You may laugh at how coaching is popular nowadays; you may think that coaches are those who failed at their psychology exams, you may find the talk of needing a coach ridiculous, you may even associate this field of study with all those motivational quotes we find online, but you cannot deny the fact that working with a coach while you are feeling unhappy with your current job or looking for a new one actually works. Research shows that it helps, especially in the IT sector. How, you may wonder?
Coaching was first used around 1830 at Oxford University. Coaching then did not mean what it means today, it was related to a tutor helping his students pass an exam or a sports coach guiding his team. It took us more than 150 years to develop this area of science into an independent discipline that helps not only individuals, but whole businesses develop. To see how investigating and guiding one person can influence the whole company might be surprising, that is why we provide an explanation.
Being a coach is being a mirror for your client, who we prefer to call a learner or a ‘coachee’, who can understand himself and his current situation clearly by simply looking in the mirror. Providing this view, we can work on improving the picture. What differentiates coaching from other forms of development is that by improving the picture we do not mean solving problems, but finding new goals. The way we transfer negativity (problem) into positivity (goal) is the very first step coachees take.
Another thing that makes coaching special and is crucial at the same time is the fact that a coach does not give us answers, he simply helps us find them ourselves, guiding us in the right direction. How does he do that? Not by talking, as you may have thought, but by listening and asking questions. We are the ones that answer the questions because it is believed that a coachee knows everything he is to find out, he is just not aware of that fact yet.
There are two fields of businesses that find coaching effective. The first one is Human Resources (HR), which does not surprise us at all as their goal is clear – taking good care of their employees and understanding them better. Another one, perhaps more surprising, is Information Technology (IT). To understand the reason why, we need to understand the way IT sectors work.
Business can be a tricky when our experience of technology is that it changes constantly, although buying the newest version of your favourite smartphone or installing the most talked about app is not exactly what IT professionals deal with. Try to imagine that what you invent today may be in the past tomorrow, that the language you are applying now may be outdated the very next day. The way technology changes forces IT professionals to adapt to the unknown as smoothly and quickly as possible. Another thing they have to consider is keeping in constant touch with the client. We all know that he who pays the piper calls the tune, we all get annoyed when something we need, let us say our software, does not work properly and that is when we blame our IT specialists. Having the ability to work with the client, to talk to them and, what is more important, to reach them is crucial in this job.
Not all of us are comfortable with uncertainty, not all of us are patient, and not all of us can get used to working in groups. After all, IT professionals are a group of individuals. That is the point when a coach takes over, developing both our agile and hard skills. What are they, you may ask? The term agile skills or soft skills refers to our abilities to manage time properly, to learn new things easily, to communicate with others better, to control our emotions. All of this leads to developing our hard skills more effectively and by hard skills we mean learning languages, programming, coding, etc. Those two combined make a perfect IT professional, who can have a great impact on the whole company.
No matter how irritating motivational quotes we find all over the Internet may get, do not let yourself identify them with coaching. This method of development is without a doubt crucial not only for the health and prosperity of many companies, but also of our own.
Izabela Kostrzewska is our Junior HR Specialist. She is responsible for soft and hard HRM activities, conducting business coaching for our team and recruiting new employees. Being interested in Asian culture, she loves learning Japanese and reading about newest trends in psychology.