This article appreared in People Matters – November 1, 2011 issue. It carries my views on the field of coaching in India at present and the future trends which may be seen in the industry. Would be happy to recieve your comments.
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Nov 1st 2011
By Shalini Verma
How matured is the concept of ‘executive coaching’ in India?
I would say it is still in a very nascent stage. Though there has been substantial growth in the last 2 years and while there are no ready figures, my guess is that we have seen a growth of 30-40 percent. Culturally, given the family and social structure in India, a person naturally tends to fall back on family and friends for any advice or feedback in life. This non-judgmental and professional help and support has never been a trend in India. Further, at present, the number of coaches in India is far less – a few hundred to cater to a population of one billion. There are also no specializations in India as yet, unlike in Australia or the UK, where there are different categories of coaches for different requirements – parenting coaches, wealth management coaches, relationship coaches, weight loss coaches, etc. In India, everything is under the broad banner of ‘life/executive coaching’. Coaching in India is on the growing curve. The growing number of MNCs in India is redefining the work culture here and the change in the social fabric due to the emergence of nuclear families will propel the need for coaching.
What is the role of a coach? How does it contribute to business productivity? When is coaching useful/required?
Coaching is a dynamic, creative and systematic process, where the coach enables the coached to get useful insights by the power of asking high-gain questions. It enables the coached to become self-aware especially about his/her strengths and weaknesses, unhelpful patterns, aspirations and challenges. It is a highly valuable tool that can enhance employee engagement in the organization and build a culture of support and encouragement. The role of a coach is to bring coherence between the efforts of the individual and the company. This in turn will lead to increased productivity, reduced cost, lowered rate of attrition and higher motivation. Coaching can be applied at multiple occasions. At the organizational level, a coaching intervention may be especially useful during times of quantum change, for example, mergers, acquisitions, and significant changes in market conditions. At the executive level, it maybe useful in times of role transitions (change in role), in case of performance issues and even to fast track the high performers.
What is the ‘coaching style’ that you have adopted and why does it work best for you?
I use the ‘facilitative’ style of coaching where I take the ‘whole person approach’. While it is possible to focus on just one area, life cannot be put into water tight compartments. A change in any one area of one’s life is bound to have an impact on the other aspects of his/her life.
In the short run, at times, this approach may not seem to be impacting the business goals directly, but in the long run, I am very positive that it is bound to benefit the business.
We use the LEAP (Leadership Enhancing & Acceleration Program) framework, which works towards bringing coherence between individual and organizational goals.
What are the other methodologies in coaching? And how do organizations know which methodology will work best for their purpose?
Other methodologies could be more direct and at times, a combination of prescriptive and facilitative methods may be used. It usually depends on the organizational culture. In a free culture, which fosters growth and development and the focus is on the long run perspective, the facilitative method of coaching works best. However, it is important that the organization supports a safe learning environment to ensure its success. Whereas, in the case where there is restriction on time and the organization expects results or outcomes in a short run, the direct or prescriptive method may be adopted. Every organization has its process of studying the need and the philosophy before deciding or screening for the appropriate coach.
What are the challenges in ensuring success of a coaching exercise?
It is essential to ensure that the outcome expected by all three parties – coach, coached and the organization, is the same. One must also consider the willingness and keenness of the candidate. Often, sustaining the coaching journey becomes a challenge as the coaching exercise is quite demanding at times. There is also a need to check the Coachability Index to gauge the eligibility of the candidate as we are not coachable at all times. It is also crucial to gain the right support and endorsement from the stakeholders to ensure that coaching is effective. The organization must provide a safe learning platform to allow employees the time and space to grow and evolve. Coaching should never be remedial in nature or considered as a ‘fix-it’ exercise.
What is the future of coaching in India?
With the changing social fabric and the ever stressful work culture, I foresee the demand for coaching to go up exponentially in the coming years. From life coaching, spiritual coaching, career coaching to executive coaching, newer specializations will emerge. Also I expect that coaching in India will combine the eastern philosophy into the whole coaching concept and then it will emerge as a powerful tool for the growth and development of the human resource.
Shalini Verma is Founder & Director, The Sky Scrapers Academy