It is important that the coach knows their limitations and recognises situations that are better addressed by another route. For example, someone may have issues better addressed by a therapist, or their underperformance at work may be better addressed by a capability approach.
Coaching is often referred to as being ‘for the worried well’. The focus on coaching is on the future – what do you want to achieve? It is suitable for people who have the inner resources and willingness to move forward, it is not suitable for those people who do not have the inner resources or the willingness to change.
Julie Starr (2008) suggests that a coach with no relevant counselling skills should avoid the following issues:
- where someone has (or the issue relates to) on-going dependency on alcohol or drugs.
- where someone has experienced abuse of any type.
- where someone is abusing others.
- where someone suffers from mental illness (extreme mood swings, on-going depression etc).
It is important to remember that there are some individuals for whom coaching may not work. This may be because their ‘problems’ are best dealt with by another type of intervention (e.g. counselling, occupational therapy, capability or disciplinary) or, it may be because their attitude may interfere with the effectiveness of coaching.
Examples of when using coaching tools and techniques may be suitable include:
- helping a competent technical expert develop better interpersonal or managerial skills.
- developing an individuals potential and providing career support.
- developing a more strategic perspective after a promotion to a more senior role.
- handling conflict situations so that they are resolved effectively.
Always carefully consider whether coaching is the right approach. The good news is, more often than not coaching will be a valid and useful techinique!