Coaching is the fastest-growing training practice, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. In its survey Training and Development 2005, 88% of respondents say they now use coaching in the workplace.
With coaching such a hot skill, the Association of Coaching says it is worth it for HR professionals to go on a coaching training course if they want to get ahead.
Gladeana McMahon, head of coaching at Fairplace Consulting and spokeswoman for the Association for Coaching, says: “Employers are increasingly recognising that it is very useful for people working in HR to have coaching skills. HR professionals have to be facilitators, negotiators and mediators. Coaching skills can help in all of these roles.”
Paul Turner, general manager (people) at West Bromwich Building Society, believes coaching has helped him in his HR role, so much so that he is currently studying for a coaching PhD.
“My whole working philosophy is built around coaching. Company cultures are influenced by management behaviour, and coaching offers a fantastic way to influence this. It is critical that HR functions are up to speed with coaching. This does not just mean having the skills to conduct one-to-one mentoring, but to strategically introduce a coaching scheme into an organisation,” he says.
McMahon says most HR managers would benefit from taking a basic coaching course. “I’m not suggesting all HR professionals should become full-blown coaches. However, two-day courses can provide essential, basic skills that will enable people in HR to work more effectively.”
If you want to develop your coaching skills, there are three levels of training to consider. The first is a short non-accredited course, which may last just a few days. The second level is to enrol on an accredited modular programme. The third is to take a postgraduate course at a university in a business discipline. “There are a number of postgraduate courses emerging that focus on coaching,” says Turner.
Before deciding on a level of training, think about how you want to use the skills, advises McMahon.
“If group facilitating and one-to-one mentoring are a big part of your job, it may pay to get qualified by taking a more in-depth course. For most HR professionals, this could be overkill. If you learn basic coaching skills, you can better understand how to deploy coaches within your organisation without having to become a coach yourself,” she says.
However, if you want to stay ahead of the game, Turner predicts coaching skills will become increasingly important.
“In future, it will not be a case of asking which HR professionals have coaching skills, as everyone will have them,” he says. “Instead, the question will be: who is doing it really well?”
Why do HR professionals need coaching skills?
- Even if you do not want to become a coach, learning basic skills can help you implement coaching programmes more effectively.
- Coaching skills can help HR professionals improve their performance in areas including mentoring, mediation and negotiation.
- As coaching becomes more widespread in organisations, employers are increasingly recognising the value of coaching skills.
- You don’t need to commit to a lengthy training course. There is a wide choice of short courses available.