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Skill: Coaching

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Coaching means that you help an employee, colleague or team - coachee or coachees - to achieve work-related goals and to develop further. As a coach you help others learn. Not by teaching, but by inspiring and supporting. This allows you to optimally stimulate the self-reflective and self-directing capacity of the coachee (s).

When to coach?

Coaching can be desirable in different situations:

  • Increasing self-knowledge and self-confidence. When an employee gets to know himself better and knows what his weaknesses and strengths are, he can consciously perform his duties.
  • Learning or sharpening skills, for example delegating tasks, conducting bad news conversations or giving presentations .
  • Bringing structure to (new) responsibilities, for example getting familiar with a new position with new tasks and responsibilities: where do you start? how do you set priorities ?
  • When someone needs a sounding board, because he has a solo function or is at a 'lonely height'.

When not to coach?

Sometimes it is better to refrain from coaching because it is not useful or not desirable. Coaching, for example, makes no sense if the prospective coachee is not motivated at all. This also applies when the coachee has no influence on his problem. After all, coaching involves the development of qualities. If the coached person cannot do anything with that at work, it makes no sense and even increases his powerlessness. When an employee performs insufficiently, coaching is often used as a medicine. And although coaching is an effective tool, it is not the best solution for every problem. Coaching, for example, is not desirable if the employee's malfunction is solely in the private spherelies. This also applies when there are serious psychological problems ; therapy is then a better and more effective alternative.

Conducting a coaching conversation

To prevent the coaching conversation from ending up in a 'coffee machine talk', it is important to work in a structured and orderly manner. This doesn't apply to the coaching conversation alone, but certainly also to the entire coaching process. There are different phasing models that you can use. The T-GROW model by John Whitmore is a proven and popular model to structure your coaching conversations. T-GROW stands for T OPIC, G oal, R eality, O ptions, Wrap up (in Dutch: theme, goal, reality, options and action plan). The strength of the T-GROW model is that it leads to a clear end result in a number of clear steps. The coached person actively clarifies his problem, devises solutions himself and therefore changes with pleasure. You can compare the model with planning a trip. First you start with the map: where are we going (Goal)? Then you look at the current situation: where are we now (Reality)? Then you view the different routes that lead to the destination (Options). Finally, choose one and ensure that the motivation to undertake the journey is in order and that you are prepared for all the obstacles that you may encounter along the way.


In the starting phase you determine the theme - the subject - of the coaching process together with the person being coached. Examples of themes are: effectively conducting bad news conversations or effectively chairing meetings .


You then formulate the goals (the goals) together for the short and long term. Set these goals SMART. To clarify the goals of the coachee, you can ask the following questions:

  • What is important for you in terms of (theme)?
  • What is important about that for you?
  • What do you want to achieve in terms of (theme)?
  • How do you know that you have achieved that goal?
  • How do you know the problem has been solved?


Then you explore the current situation together with the coached person. In this phase it is important to understand and sharpen the discussion theme. Your role is to stimulate the coached person to self-evaluation and to analyze concrete examples. In this phase it is important that you keep an eye on the common thread. To investigate the current situation, you can ask the following questions:

  • What happens now?
  • What, when, who, how often?
  • What is the result?
  • Why is the submitted topic a problem?
  • What are concrete examples?
  • What went wrong so far?
  • How do you like it to fail ?
  • What went well?
  • Is it always a problem or are there situations where things went well or better?
  • What are important factors?
  • What have you already done to solve the problem?


In this phase you try to generate ideas that can contribute to solving the problem of the person being coached. The art is to initiate a creative thinking process and to brainstorm freely. In this phase, as a coach you promote the creative thinking process with the coached and you structure the output (for example by writing things down). Of course you can also submit your own ideas. To come up with options you can ask the following questions:

  • What could you do?
  • What are possible alternatives?
  • What are the pros and cons of the options (for yourself, others and context?)
  • What would you do if nothing stopped you?


The final step of the T-GROW model is to make an action plan in which the coachee describes which choices he makes and what he will do within which time frame. The following questions can help you prepare the action plan:

  • What can you do to reach your goal, and when?
  • Which of the above ideas will you implement?
  • What are the success criteria?
  • What is the first concrete step that you can now take?
  • What are the next steps?
  • What are any obstacles?
  • How can you anticipate this?
  • How motivated are you to implement this option?
  • What do you need to be even more motivated?
  • What do you need to put your ideas into practice?
  • How can I or your environment help you with this?
  • Will you achieve your goal with this action plan?

Is leadership and coaching possible?

When an employee has to master new skills, in many organizations the immediate supervisor takes on the role of coach. After all, as a manager you know the employee well, you speak the same language and you can properly estimate the culture and structure of the employee. Despite the many advantages, there is one major disadvantage, because if there is a functional working relationship or a hierarchical relationship between the coach and the coachee, it will be very difficult in the coaching sessions of equality reach. Fearing that the information in the coaching sessions is taken into account in the assessment of daily functioning, the employee will not show the back of his tongue. In such cases it is better to choose a coach who has no hierarchical relationship with the coachee, such as a manager from another department or team. If that is not an option, you could consider hiring an external coach.

Which competencies are involved?

  • Self-knowledge. A coach knows his possibilities and limitations, has self-confidence and an authentic and transparent way of working.
  • Vision. As a coach you work from a strong personal vision of coaching and learning.
  • Conversation skills. As a coach you are very good at actively listening, summarizing, asking questions and asking questions .
  • Give feedback and receive feedback. You identify behavioral and thinking patterns and themes and you confront the coached person with that.
  • Empathy. You show compassion and you have empathy, so that you can quickly form a picture of the coachee, his work and the work context.
  • Integrity. You handle information carefully and confidentially.
  • Result orientation. You are result and development oriented and you have a clear goal in mind.

In which professions do you need this competence?

This competence is of course a must for coaches. This also applies to professions such as that of career counselor or corporate training trainer. Coaching skills can also be an important requirement in managerial positions, such as manager or manager, or in senior positions.

Can this competence be developed?

Coaching is a competence that can be developed very well, if you are open to it. If you are instructed from above to coach others and you don't like this, it will have a counterproductive effect on the functioning of the person (s) you coach.

You can follow a course or course to become familiar with the basic principles of coaching, but you really learn the real coaching by doing it a lot. Coaching is custom work and you can hardly plan your actions in advance. How you do something often arises in the (coaching) moment itself. Turn your experiences into learning experiences by looking back on them. Do this also with others, including the person (s) you coach now or have coached in the past. Ask for this feedback and learn from it.

How do you demonstrate this competence when applying?

When applying for a position where coaching is an important competence, you can be sure that the selector will ask about your coaching skills during the interview. For example, he may ask:

What do you mean by coaching? How do you apply this? Can you give an example? Can you give an example of how you approached someone's coaching? What do you find most difficult about coaching? Why? How do you approach this? How much time do you spend on the development of your employees on average? Give an example of how you spend your time on this development.

At such a moment you naturally want to show your best side and demonstrate that you are the most suitable candidate for the position. But how do you do that concretely and without presenting yourself as a huge bladder jaw? By answering the question with a STAR.

Example: you apply for a management position and the selector asks you for an example of how you approached someone's coaching. You answer:

First, you outline the situation (what was going on?): I lead a team of four developers of training materials. In addition to our team, there are three other development teams, each with their own target group. As a developer you collect information from experts and convert it into 'bite-sized' chunks. The work has deadlines for which new course material must be delivered. One of the employees of another team of developers - a 40-year-old man - could not cope well with the stress caused by the deadlines. He always postponed his work until the last moment, which put him under great pressure as he approached the deadline. Eventually he met the deadlines, but this was accompanied by a few nights of work and a lot of stress. His boss had once sent him on a time management course, but that didn't help.

Then you outline your tasks: My task is to help him change his procrastination behavior into more effective behavior.

Then you outline the activities (What did you specifically say or do?): In the first interview I had with him, I asked him what he wanted to discuss with me and what his goals were. We thought extensively about what led him to postpone his work. Then it emerged that he was always uncertain about everything he made. He indicated that he was afraid of the negative criticism of others. Avoiding criticism proved to be the driving force behind his procrastination. In the subsequent session we evaluated his competencies based on the job description. We went through the competencies one by one, comparing his own performance with that of colleagues. This clearly demonstrated that he did not do anything for his colleagues. He soon realized that there was really no reason to doubt his own abilities. That was nice to see. To make the transfer to the new behavior, I asked him to keep track of his new behavior, as well as a self-evaluation. We discussed this in the subsequent sessions.

Finally, you sketch the result (What happened next?): After the coaching sessions, he was better able to handle the deadlines. The training material came about with much less stress and that made him feel much better.

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