What is Performance Coaching?
Fundamental to coaching is the idea that it is a process of supporting someone to move from a normal level of performance to 'high performance'. This is the case for all kinds of Coaching: the client is assumed to be fundamentally 'OK' and resourceful and to aspire to being 'top of their field'. In this focus, you can see how Coaching's origins in sport coming through - helping athletes become a champion in their field.
If you understand performance, or functioning as existing on a scale, where 0 is 'dysfunctional' and 10 is 'high performance', 5 is literally 'the norm', or the middle of the bell curve.
When someone is below 5, they are in a place where they are not resourceful enough to engage in the 'normal' functioning that is expected, it is the role of counselling or therapy to support them to return to 'normal'. When someone is already OK, and needs help to be their best, this is where Coaching comes in.
Even though Coaching as a process can support someone to arrive at their best thinking on any topic, the reality is, for a Coach to actually make a living, she/he need to choose an area/topic in which many people are seeking help, and focus on that. This means that they can become experts in understanding the following key things:
- what normal looks like in this field
- what high performance looks like (or best practice)
- what are the common challenges that people experience in moving from 'normal' to 'high performance'
For example, if a Coach works with Managers and Leaders, they are expected to have some understanding of the role of a Manager and Leader and what 'high performance' or 'really good leadership' looks like as behaviours. They are also expected to understand some of the common challenges that leaders face, and the context in which leaders work in, e.g. small to medium sized businesses vs large corporates have quite different 'systems' that create different common challenges for leaders.
And it is this level of expertise on a specific topic that can cause coaching to have some borderline with mentoring. It seems easy for clients to simply ask the Coach 'what should I do?' and 'what do you think?' and this short-circuits something that is fundamental to coaching - that the client can be held accountable for his or her decisions because he/she genuinely made the decision.
Performance Coaching must still involve learning and development and still requires that a Coach does not tell their client what to do.
The value of a Coaching session is fundamentally based on the quality of change and learning that the coaching supports - because it is change and learning that helps people unfold their potential.
If this article has been interesting and you would like more information on this topic, I discuss this topic and more in Lesson 1 of my Free Online Course, ‘Introduction to Coaching’ - click through here to learn more.