value of coaching: 63 percent of the responding organizations
reported that they planned to increase their use of coaching
over the next five years, and 92 percent of the 86 leaders who
were coached said they expected to use a coach again.
Effective coaching can be valuable to organizations and
individuals, but clear expectations about the scope of assignments and coaching styles are keys to success. Beyond agreed-upon expectations, clients must be committed to the process
and be willing to leave their comfort zones. Both coaches and
clients need to recognize that there are no one-size-fits-all
solutions, and trial and error is often involved in developing
strategies. Openness, trust, and a willingness to hear and share
observations are critical to successful coaching relationships.
It is important to note that coaching is not appropriate for
all situations. If a manager or director has a particular skill
deficiency, training may be more effective. Coaching is better
suited to situations that are unique to clients and require a
strong ability to understand other “players” and the environment. No laws govern coaching confidentiality, and the supervisor may expect reports from either the coach or the client to
validate the return on investment. The required scope of the
report may be clearly articulated in the case of performance
improvement coaching, or take the form of a loose request for
occasional updates. When updates are voluntary, it is helpful
for the coach and client to agree on what will be shared so
that a strong sense of trust remains. Feedback to a manager
provides an excellent opportunity to talk about career goals,
professional development, and management expectations. The
likelihood that an investment in coaching will continue is
directly linked to the perception of value.
A Win-Win Solution
Up to 90 percent of a student affairs budget is devoted to
employee salary and benefits. In addition, turnover, poor
morale, and performance issues all have significant time and
cost implications. It makes good economic sense, therefore, to
address problems before they arise.
Anecdotal information in academia indicates that coaching is a win-win for employees and their institutions. Staff
members respond well to suggestions for change that take into
consideration their styles, backgrounds, and environments.
Their supervisors appreciate immediate results targeted to
areas that most benefit employee performance. During times
of significant change, coaching has the advantage of timeliness
Student affairs is ideally situated to lead the way in developing coaching as an effective training method for its employees.
In the process, it will benefit from a workforce that is skilled,
motivated, and ready to accept the challenges of a new era
in academia. LE
Sheila J. Curran is a professional coach, specializing in academia. She
holds the highest qualification in human resources, the SPHR, and is
the former executive director of the Duke University Career Center. She
held a similar position at Brown University before starting Curran Career
Consulting in 2008. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephanie Helms, EdD
Director, Assessment & Professional
Division of Student Affairs, Duke University
Type of coaching received?
When did the coaching relationship start?
How often do you receive coaching?
Once a month, with occasional homework assignments
How long are the sessions?
45 to 60 minutes
What have you learned from coaching?
I have strengthened my skills to be strategic in planning
and deliberate in my actions. The opportunity to process
every step, from inception to implementation, away from
my work environment has been incredibly helpful.
What are the advantages of coaching versus other forms
of professional development?
Coaching is uniquely designed for the individual. It allows
the ability to measure growth and development over time
against pre-identified variables.
What qualifications or experiences does your coach have
that make him or her particularly useful to you?
I appreciate the coach being skilled in listening and dem-
onstrating appreciative inquiry—asking the right ques-
tions. Having an understanding of the environments and
cultures I need to explore is essential.
Would you recommend coaching to your peers?
I would absolutely recommend coaching to my peers, and
I have. Coaching has helped me be more reflective about
experiences, as opposed to complaining or feeling stuck.
Why is this a good use of your budget?
Coaching provides a return on investment that is immeasurable because it has a direct impact. It is individually
designed and tailored to fit the client’s specific needs.