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Performance Coaching

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image Coaching Qualities

Coaching is unlike training, consultancy, advising, or providing a professional service whereby work is completed on behalf of a client. Our coaching is aimed at accelerating self-directed improvements and change, proven for decades to be highly successful, whether in sport or in business. A coach cannot do the work for you, however a good one can bring out the best in you! A manager or supervisor who is adept at coaching will find that improvements more readily occur than one still immersed in the less flexible command and control style. Adopting a coaching style allows managers and supervisors to get "below the surface" of things, more readily understanding deeper root causes to problems, and so able to collectively find solutions. We aim to support embedding Operational Excellence (OE) through developing coaching capability in key managers, supervisors as well as in-house change agents and performance champions. The qualities required for good coaching are different to those found in these other other disciplines too and there is no doubt that good coaches are invaluable for success - just ask any elite sports person!:

Active Listening

In coaching, listening is more important than talking. By active listening, both parties are able to become more fully aware of the difficulties being experience, and in being fully heard, the speaker will feel more understood and more engaged in finding solutions. This form of listening also leads to deeper and more intuitive questioning that allows the parties to explore more fully what is going on.

Communication skills

Good communicators generally build far stronger, deeper relationships. While listening is important, so is being able to interpret and reflect back, in ways that remove barriers, addresses preconceptions, bias, and resistance. Communicating well fundamentally demonstrates respect for the other party, permits disagreement and builds trust and improved understanding and so cooperation and enhanced team work. Coaches are able to communicate the big picture, including the feelings and meanings associated with it, as well as immediate content and needs. Communicating in a way that can keep personal agendas at bay, and without judging or manipulating, are essential parts of communicating well, especially when dealing with stress and anxieties, hopes and dreams - often impacted by changes requiring improved performance. Good coaching uses communication not to give the other party the answers, but to help them explore finding answers for themselves, in a way that feels achievable and meaningful.


A manager and supervisor's ability to build rapport with people is vital. It sounds obvious, but often managers and supervisors are so focused on what they need to deliver, that they forget that they must achieve the goals through their people. A natural ability to build rapport stems from a desire to help people, which good managers and supervisors as well as coaches tend to possess. In order for progress to be made and resistance minimised, managers and supervisors must be prepared to invest in getting to know their people and quickly build this rapport, even when going through uncertain, transitional change themselves. Rapport-building is made far easier when coaching compared to other activities because the coach's only focus is the person being coached. When a manager or supervisor supports a person in this way, rapport builds seemlessly and change is accelerated.

Presence, Flexibility And Courage

The pace of change will vary according to others' willingness and availability, and so it's essential that we appreciate that other people's needs will be different, that circumstances and timings can be unpredictable for instance. As such, coaching should not follow a single set formula. This is particularly true in the more industrial and fluid environments, such as those of the oilfield. Good coaches take human emotions and feelings into account and are able to quickly tap into them - they are "present" themselves, more conscious of their own emotional state, as well as that of others. Having the flexibility to adapt to others' emotions, along with the curiosity to understand fundamental issues in others' lives but at the same time capable of being appropriately challenging, are crucial in accelerating the page of change. Without this, we often fall prey to simply pushing others to go faster - as we all know, when we are pushed we tend to push back, a counter-productive dynamic when seeking change. With curiosity ever-present, the results can be more far-reaching - all parties are often surprised at how expectations are exceeded, and rewarded by how much the team grows and strengthens. All this takes courage, including a willingness to have difficult and deeper conversations, which without sufficient training can be risky. Coaches generally have a healthy self-awareness, coupled with a belief that most people are capable of reaching goals themselves and naturally possess a strong motivation to do so. Holding this positive belief from the outset makes interactions more meaningful and productive and provides the basis for curiosity, flexibility and courage to prevail. Where the natural motivations of others seems to be lacking, a coach is curious about what is blocking this, rather than assuming they are simply uninterested (this is rarely the case!).

Motivating And Inspiring

Coaches possess the skills needed to motivate and inspire others. There is a natural ability to do this within us all however it's usually more in evidence when we have sufficient time and energy to devote to others. Being formally trained in these skills means that even when under pressure ourselves, we are still able to motivate and inspire, identifying others' motivations and inspiring them to achieve new as yet unrealised goals that they may not yet be fully aligned with. This entails being capable of using examples and stories to motivate and inspire, in particular making these stories meaningful to the recipients (as opposed to stories that motivate us!). Additionally, being able to challenge in a motivational rather than an overwhelming manner is key. We teach this motivational style of communicating as part of our training and it will quickly become a much-valued tool amongst your key managers and supervisors, used to good effect for addressing entrenched, likely more culturally-based challenges, in a positive and appropriately motivational way.

Our Coaching Principles

We adhere to the following principles in our own coaching practice:

Listening is more important than talking

We seek to understand what motivates and inspires others

We are all capable of achieving more (ourselves included), given the appropriate pace, sufficient guidance and support

A person's or team's past is no indication of their future, but can be a useful indication of why certain erroneous or contrary beliefs exist

We seek to understand others' beliefs about what is possible and then help them to become more aware of other, new possibilities

We always seek to provide full support

We help individuals and teams find answers for themselves

Coaching involves reflecting current attitudes, behaviours and beliefs (+/-) in a non-judgemental way

Some people's needs cannot be met by coaching, and we are able to identify with clients the limits of coaching

Why not check out our other pages on Become a Performance Coaching Manager to learn more about what this training entails.

Some Recommended Reading:
Coaching for Performance, Sir John Whitmore.
Effective Coaching, Miles Downey.
The Art of Coaching: a handbook of tips and tools, Jenny Bird.