The University of Sydney’s strategic plan 2011-2015 sets a course of objectives for the University. To assist the University in achieving these strategic objectives, Learning Solutions offers coaching to both its academic and professional staff.
What is coaching?
What coaching is not
What is the difference between coaching and mentoring?
A typical coaching process
Interested in coaching?
There are many different types and definitions of coaching. In general, it is a collaborative endeavour between a coach and an individual (or group) to facilitate the attainment of the coachee’s goals in the coachee’s context. The purpose of this endeavour is to enhance skills, performance and capability.
The University engages a combination of developmental, performance coaching (for the individual), team coaching, transitional coaching and onboarding coaching.
Coaching aimed at enhancing a coachee’s ability to meet current and future challenges more effectively via the development of increasingly complex understanding of the self, others and the systems in which the coachee is involved. This is sometimes called transformational coaching.
Coaching that is aimed at improving the coachee’s ability to achieve work-related goals. It is not so much interested in the acquisition or establishment of skills as it is in assisting the coachee to use established skills more effectively.
Performance coaching typically involves the articulation of desired levels of performance and pathways to achieve those goals. It may also involve the identification of current and potential cognitive,
behavioural and environmental blocks to performance. Coaches engaged in performance coaching can be expected to have knowledge and skills associated with goal-setting, motivation and change management.
In team coaching the coaching client is the whole team as a system rather than one person. In team coaching sessions, the team works on group goals. The focus of the team coaching process is usually on
improving the working connections between team members while they strive to achieve their objectives, rather than focusing on developing people individually.
This is specifically to help a staff member transition from one role to another. Transitional coaching supports individuals to achieve quick effectiveness and success in a new role. It helps to make clear the purpose and most immediate needs of a new role. and develop strategies for rapid transition. Transitions may be a change in job, a promotion, a relocation or a return to work.
The organisational culture can make or break a new employee especially at a senior level where the decisions they are taking may not be well received.
This coaching approach increases the chances of a staff member’s success and gets them up to speed and productive as quickly as possible. An onboarding coach primarily helps a new staff member understand the new culture, identify potential challenges, and assists in identifying any changes which need to be made in their leadership style to be effective in the new role and environment. An on-boarding coach who has an inside awareness of the University, can offer clarity to the new employee.
Source: Coaching in Organisations Handbook, Standards Australia 2011
Coaching is not therapy or counselling. Therapy tends to focus on the past and often delves into the root cause of the problem, and counselling is more focused on personal life matters and the psychological well being of a person only. Coaching on the other hand, is more focused on the future and creating solutions and sits within a certain context (such as work, your career or the task at hand).
Mentoring is generally provided by someone who is a subject matter expert in a specific discipline or industry. In the University context, for example, this may involve an early career researcher (level B) being mentored by a professor in their field. Coaching relies on the coachee being prompted by the coach to develop their own solutions. It focuses on skill and capability, not necessarily knowledge (like mentoring does).
Typically, a coachee will meet with their suggested coach for a ‘chemistry’ meeting first. At this stage, there is no obligation to continue the coaching relationship. The aim of the ‘chemistry’ meeting is to see if you are the right fit for each other and to discuss the coaching process and each other’s expectations throughout.
Next, both parties agree to continue (or not – this outcome can be discussed with your Learning Advisor) and the coach will send through a proposal for the potential coachee to discuss with their supervisor. If the supervisor agrees to the coaching engagement, it becomes their responsibility to communicate their expectations of the coaching process to the coach and coachee and to arrange paperwork and payment.
A useful complement to working with a coach may be provided by the use of a diagnostic tool. A diagnostic tool helps in identifying your behavioural strengths and the areas on which you wish to focus in the coaching engagement.
There are a wide range of tools in use within organisations for this purpose; most require the coach to be accredited in their use, and the results remain confidential to the individual and the coach and are not held by anyone in the University. Some are based solely on the feedback of the individual concerned, whilst others are designed to synthesise confidential input from a number of sources to provide a more comprehensive picture, and are known as 360 assessments or tools. Learning Advisors and external coaches are accredited in a number of these, and can advise on which are most appropriate for your individual circumstances.
If you would like to find out if you are suitable for coaching, have a conversation with your supervisor and encourage them to contact your Learning Advisor to see if it would be the right development choice for you.