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Coaching FAQ's
Coaching FAQ's

Here are the most frequently asked questions on coaching:

What’s the difference between coaching and mentoring?

Coaching is primarily about performance and the development of specific skills. Mentoring is much more broadly based and intuitive. It focuses on developing capability and includes, for example, helping someone establish a viable career plan.

Do good coaches only ask questions?

No. Good coaches recognise when to tell, show, suggest or ask questions — depending on the learner’s need at the time. Coaches who stick to questioning style can be very irritating.

How long should a coaching session last?

Informal, ad-hoc coaching can take just a few minutes and may occur anywhere – say at the coffee machine. Formal coaching, where there is a clear agenda and deeper discussion is needed, typically takes a minimum of 30 minutes and sometimes as long as 90 minutes.

What’s the responsibility of the learner?

Learners get the best out of the relationship when they prepare for formal coaching sessions. In particular, they should be clear about what their learning need is and what thinking they have already done around it.

Who makes the best coach?

Many experts make lousy coaches, because they can’t empathise with the learner’s problems. Good coaches are people who have the insight to understand how they learned skills and the patience to help other people develop their own route to learning.

Is there a difference between sports coaching and coaching in business?

Yes:  sports coaching focus on physical skills and on mental attitude. Business coaching focuses on a mixture of technical and behavioural skills. Both, however, have improved performance as their goal.

Can you really coach a team?

Yes, but to succeed you also need to coach the individuals at the same time. Team coaching focuses on the interaction between people. The coach acts to foster instinctive understanding and positive regard between members of the team, so that their efforts can be better co-ordinated.

Does the line manager have to be a coach?

Coaching is one of the core skills of a line manager. However, truly effective team leaders concentrate less on giving coaching themselves, than creating the environment where coaching behaviours occur naturally between members of the team.

Is there a difference between internal and external coaches?

Where the internal coach is also the line manager, coaching is often seen as a means of increasing motivation within the team. External coaches typically have a much more short-term involvement, focusing on specific areas of developmental need or performance management.