Business coaching has become an essential practice in today’s organisations, as leaders have come to understand how valuable the results can be. Personal involvement in your own development is an essential activity for improving your performance – and it is something that we very much encourage at the School.
Our Coaching Programme offered by the Student Development Team, with inputs from Procter and Gamble, is currently offered to all students as part of a Professional Development certificate, The Edinburgh Award for Professional Development.
I had a chat with Nghia Nghuyen, MSc HRM student from Vietnam, who has flourished under the sessions he spent with one of our in-house coaches, Ros Claase.
What did you want to get out of the coaching programme?
It was a great opportunity to develop myself. I found that the way people study in the UK is very different from the way people study in my country and I was facing challenges which were affecting my coursework.
The coaching programme presented itself as a way of addressing these problems and it’s been hugely beneficial. It gives you space and time to focus on the issues concerning you. The sessions have enhanced my confidence and I’ve seen an improvement in my performance in the second semester.
Tell us about your first session, how does it work?
At the beginning of the programme you take a test to provide a benchmark that you can review your progress against. So, you answer questions such as “What skill are you most confident about”, and you rank your responses on a scale of 1 to 5. At the end of the coaching you take the test again to see the difference in the result, the progress you have made. In our first meeting we also set some goals – weaknesses or issues that I wanted to address – and set out a plan for doing that.
What issues should students focus on with their coach?
The idea is that you set the agenda, so you need to go with a good understanding of your concerns, what you want to improve. I find it hard to say no to people, whether in a business context or in my social life. If someone has invited me out for a drink but I’m not in the mood, I’ll usually say yes anyway. I also find it difficult to ask for help, personally and professionally. But we live in a society where we have to rely on other people sometimes. And I’m always happy to offer help! You can talk about your career plans, interpersonal skills you want to develop, it will vary hugely for each person.
The coach doesn’t provide the solutions, but they’ll ask open ended questions that trigger you to think about the situation and find a solution. So they’ll ask, what do you think about that situation, how could you manage it differently. The surprise is that you often know the answers already, you just don’t know it yet!
So do you find it easier to say “no” now?
Yes, and I’m more comfortable asking for help! At the end of each coaching session, I received a summary of what we had discussed which is really useful to look back on. After a period of time we would meet up again to discuss my progress. If I haven’t made progress we talk about that, what were the challenges that hindered progress? It’s good ptice for measuring your own development.
Our students are here to boost their career prospects. How has it helped you to plan for your future?
Before I came to the School I had a career plan but no time think about progressing it during my studies. By talking my plans through with the coach, I was able to refine my ambitions. This benefited me a lot, gave me focus. I was able to attend the right events, seek out the right forums and network in the right places. If I didn’t have that clear vision I would have missed out on those opportunities.
What’s the key to a successful coaching programme?
You have to be honest with yourself and you need to admit where you’re going wrong. The coaching environment is comfortable and confidential so you can be open. It’s not seen as weak to share your concerns, it means you are ready to solve them.
Would you use this development approach again?
Definitely. I know how it works now and have set up group coaching sessions with friends. It works really well. We take turns to be the coach which I really enjoy. I’ve learnt a lot by listening to other people explore their issues. It’s a useful opportunity to reflect. And it reminds you that everyone is overcoming challenges and even facing similar issues.
In a nutshell I have become a better person because of the coaching sessions. I’m still young, I have a lot of concerns, I don’t have solid plans, but I know much more about myself now and have a process for addressing concerns as they arise.