Coaching: it's a term that most learning and development professionals are familiar with. To coach - in a workplace setting, of course - means to help others explore their goals and ambitions, and equip them with the right tools to help achieve their potential. It is a useful way of developing people's skills and abilities, and of boosting performance, which in turn delivers business benefits.
The term ‘coaching' first entered the English language in the early 19th Century when academics at Oxford University used the word to describe a tutor who ‘carried' a student. Only a few years later, the word coach became synonymous with the world of sport, and made its way into the everyday vernacular.
Sports coaching was designed to ensure victory for the team by bolstering an individual's performance. Peak performance was demanded on the track, pitch, pool - wherever the sporting event was taking place - and so the sports coach was tasked with bringing more out of the individual than the individual could achieve alone. The coach would teach sports skills - both physically and psychologically - so that the individual could reach their full potential, contribute to the team's performance and go on to win.
Today, sports coaching is big business. In fact, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Coach Award is an accolade given annually as part of the corporation's Sports Personality of the Year ceremony each December, and some past winners of the award include José Mourinho, Arsène Wenger and Alex Ferguson to name but a few.
Today, you can only become a qualified sports coach by gaining an appropriate coaching qualification, offered by the National Governing Body. As well as teaching coaching techniques, a big part of the training includes learning how to use scientific and sophisticated computer programmes that provides coaches with reams of data to help monitor and evaluate the individual sportsperson's performance.
It is through this move to professionalism and use of data that business coaching could learn a lot from its sporting counterpart. Currently, workplace coaching in the UK is unregulated, meaning anyone can profess to be a coach - no qualifications or training needed - which can make clients wary. That said, many coaches are seeking the credibility their line of work deserves. Savvy coaches know their value and are prepared to demonstrate this ROI - in terms of investing in their own development, the tools in their kit bag, and the value they bring to clients and their businesses.
Coaching is a huge part of what we do at Aspire, and being at the front line of learning and development, we understand the positive difference it makes. We're committed to sharing our expertise and are driven to not only help our clients to develop, but to also support other professionals in the field.
That's why, as well as offering learning and development professionals an opportunity to gain an industry recognised qualification in Coaching and Mentoring from the Institute of Learning Management (ILM), we've also spent months developing an online 360 Degree Profiling & Feedback Tool for coaches to use - without accreditation - in their tool bag.
Through taking advantage of these tools and qualifications, coaches can give their work the credibility it deserves. In adopting the same scientific approach to coaching as sports coaching - benchmarking, comparing, contrasting, and using solid data - coaches can demonstrate their ROI.
Coaching in the workplace is often seen as being fluffy; a soft touch way of treating people with kid gloves rather than tackling people and personal development head on. Of course, for those in the profession we know this is not the case, but as coaches and other learning and development professionals, we have a duty to demonstrate our worth.
360 Degree Profiling & Feedback is the perfect solution and should feature in every coach's tool bag. Much like the sporting scenario, through the use of good quality 360 Degree Profiling & Feedback platforms and programmes, coaches can use solid data to clearly benchmark, analyse and evaluate each individual's performance, highlighting the benefits these people are bringing to their employer's business, and ultimately demonstrating to the board the ROI of appointing a credible and qualified coach in the workplace.