Collaborative Coaching: Collaborative Coaching Overview

What is Collaborative Coaching?

Collaborative Coaching is a vehicle for the continuous growth, encouragement, and development of AFS employees. It focuses on the relationship between the supervisor and employee and fosters open dialogue and the exchange of information.

Unlike a training course, collaborative coaching is flexible in its timing and an integral part of the day, providing exactly what is wanted, where and when it is wanted. At its best, it is a partnership where both sides gain satisfaction. For this to work, both parties need to be motivated to participate in the collaborative coaching process by being open and trusting, as well as by setting the ground rules for coaching to take place.

A good definition of coaching is “the art or science of someone helping another reach higher effectiveness by creating a dialogue that leads to self-awareness and action.”

Purposes of a coaching conversation

  • To focus attention on key issues affecting performance of employees.
  • To develop employee skills and prepare them for greater responsibility.
  • To focus on the detail and content of the conversation as it relates to the key issues.
  • To promote personal responsibility for the problems or resolve issues they identify as part of the coaching conversation.
  • To encourage supervisor-employee cooperation to discover what obstacles stand in the way of success and what both can do to help remove them.
  • To create a positive feedback loop between the supervisor and team member through listening and engaging.
  • To disseminate information at the unit, office, division and agency levels.

Supervisors possess greater experience and program knowledge than their subordinates, which means that they are able see more potential solutions or alternatives to issues than employees. The urge to “correct” is strong, but most employees find more motivation to change if they come to their own conclusion that a different approach is necessary.

In addition, one theory of business management suggests that employees behave the way they do because they pick the best alternatives from their pool of options in a given situation. Collaborative Coaching allows supervisors to provide the tools and situations to accelerate how quickly employees accumulate additional options and aims to help the coached discover answers for themselves rather than accept those forced upon them.

Collaborative coaching is also about recognizing what staff do correctly and building on their strengths. Recognition and achievement are powerful motivators for employees to perform higher. Yet one study found that managers recognize their employees less than one-fourth of the time that they make achievements. Since Collaborative Coaching helps foster deeper relationships, supervisors learn more about employees’ natural interests and inclinations, and can use this information to increase employee development.

Collaborative Coaching can also act as a vehicle for distributing information and gaining feedback. As supervisors coach their employees at all levels, information will be able to travel in a top-down and bottom-up fashion. This will result in a decreased gap between those in leadership position and those on the front lines. Having everyone on the same page will in turn allow AFS to strategically move forward in one direction while always striving to provide the best customer service possible.

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