Exploring career mentoring and coaching
Exploring career mentoring and coaching

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Exploring career mentoring and coaching

5.1 Building your skills

If you’re interested in becoming a coach, you will probably already have many relevant skills and attributes, such as empathy and the ability to establish rapport. But you may need to work on developing some of the others, for example listening and summarising.

Watch coaching expert Dr Julia Yates explain how to build relevant coaching skills in the following video.

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Van Nieuwerburgh has an interesting model which sums up the whole coaching process. And he divides it into coaching skills, and the coaching process, and the way of being. And I think there are different approaches that you can adopt for each of those three if you would like to increase your skills. So thinking about the coaching process-- and that could be the approach that you choose, or the model that you use, the way you structure your conversation-- and I think probably the best way to engage with improving your skills in that field is just reading. There are thousands of fabulous books published around all sorts of different kinds of approaches to coaching. And the more you read, the more you'll feel comfortable with which one's going to see you and how to become a bit more confident about using it in practise. So the second, thing, then is the coaching skills. So those would be things like using open questions, summarising, how to challenge, how to build rapport. And I think the best way to enhance your skills in those sorts of areas is probably just practise. Just think about, how do I use open questions? What are they? What impact do they have when I use them? And just try them out. And the third area that Van Nieuwerburgh talks about is the way of being. So that's a bit more of an intangible thing to unpack, but it's kind of about being non-judgmental, about having unconditional positive regard, being self-aware, being non-directive. And I think probably the best way to approach improving your ability in that arena is just by noticing what you do. So perhaps writing a reflective log, having a think about what sorts of judgments and assumptions went through your mind when you were having that conversation, when you were having that coaching process, and just noticing how you feel and respond to things.
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To build your coaching skills, you might look for opportunities to listen to and support your colleagues. Practice asking them challenging questions and ask them for feedback regarding whether they were helpful.

You can practise building rapport by talking to strangers (in an appropriate setting!) and trying to find some common ground.

Benefits to your own career

Becoming a coach can bring advantages to an individual in many areas of life.

Van Nieuwerburgh (2017, p. 182) describes six things that you can start to do every day:

  • Listen to others
  • Allow for choices
  • Show an interest in others
  • Provide helpful feedback
  • Believe in others
  • Encourage others to identify meaningful goals.

Apply these rules to every day conversations with your family, at work etc. and you’ll see a difference in the quality of your interactions with other people.

If you currently lead a team, adopting a coaching approach can enhance team relationships and allow you to communicate more effectively with them.

Julia Yates shares what she has gained personally from becoming a coach in the next video.

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I think, for me, the main impact that being a coach has had on my career is to do with development of relationships. So we know that so much of how effective people are in their careers and how much job satisfaction they get from their careers is based on the relationships that they can develop. And there's an almost magic alchemy in the power of some of the coaching skills, in terms of developing relationships. So the idea of the unconditional positive regard, and trying not to make assumptions about people, and being very aware of your own impact, I think really fosters good relationships. And then the listening skills have quite a remarkable power, I think, in terms of developing rapport and building good relationships.
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One other reason why many people consider coaching as a potential career is the opportunity to set up your own business. If you crave autonomy and flexibility alongside all the other elements listed – coaching could be the career for you!


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