The third wave of coaching – a coaching way of being

Professor Anthony Grant, Director of the Coaching Psychology Unit at University of Sydney, is a leading international researcher and writer in the field of coaching. His presentation at the conference, “The Third generation of Workplace Coaching” elaborated on the concept of a “coaching way of being” and was helpful in clearly articulating the evolving nature of the field of coaching.

The first generation of coaching, common around the time when coaching was first being introduced in organisations, was commonly implemented in the context of performance management, particularly with poor performance. The second generation, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, was associated with the offering of “Leader as Coach” training. Managers learned how to have formal, structured coaching conversations, typically for over 30 minutes in length. In the third generation, from around 2010 onwards, coaching conversations were becoming more ‘agile’, more flexible and more integrated with day-to-day work. The focus here is on a quality conversation which may take different forms, depending on the need and opportunity, and may be viewed as a continuum from informal to formal, as per Professor Grant’s diagram below:

At the far left hand side of the model are the more informal collaborative conversations, and then moving to slightly more structure are ‘corridor conversations’, those short, on-the-run coaching opportunities that arise in the workplace. Next is the longer but unplanned coaching conversation, for instance when we only have a limited time left in a meeting and want to clarify the goal for the end of the meeting, then go through a simple GROW type structure. On the right are the more lengthy and formal pre-planned coaching conversations.

It is useful to take a closer look at ‘corridor coaching’ and how a simple structure can be introduced to this spontaneous, brief conversation to make it more effective. Professor Grant outlined his recommended method, which recognises the important of the manager or leader recognising the coaching moment, asking the right questions, responding in a way that moves the conversation forwards and finally, agreeing on some specific action steps. This method uses the acronym R-A-R-A and you can watch Professor Grant describe it below.

Professor Grant has also made available one of his latest research papers which addresses one of the hot topics from the conference: how can we show that coaching works? Link to Professor Grant's article - What can Sydney tell us about coaching? research with implications for practice from Down Under.

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