Coaching Skills

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Learning how to become an effective coach can help you feel happy and satisfied in your current work situation. It can also prepare you for a career change and move you into an area which may have always interested you, but where you just never thought it possible that there might be an opening. This course provides information about coaching skills so that we are all clear what coaches actually do. You will discover the characteristics of effective coaches, and learn how to develop your own coaching style so that you can use it with confidence in many different situations. Developing a coaching style means becoming aware of your existing personality traits and choosing which ones you want to keep and which ones you’d prefer not to use in working with others.

What do coaches do?

Coaches find out about their clients’ goals and dreams in order to help them achieve those goals. Coaches encourage, support and challenge people to take action towards the achievement of their chosen goal.

Coaches do not provide the answers, but they can help their clients to find the answers within themselves. Coaches listen and ask questions in order to understand what is important for people.

Coaching Characteristics & Competencies:

Being a coach means that you have chosen an interesting career where you will never be bored. In addition to being interested in the development of other people, you need to be flexible and adaptable. A coach cannot know all the answers; therefore it is essential that a good coach takes time to listen carefully and make sure they understand what their client wants to achieve. Coaches should have strong interpersonal skills as well as being able to build rapport quickly with others.

Understanding the differences between training, mentoring and coaching is crucial for the development of your own coaching skills.


Training involves learning about a subject and being taught how to do something in a more formal manner. An example of this would be learning how to operate a machine which is used on the production line at work or studying different types of operating systems at a college course.

Training is often more generic, as it provides knowledge and skills which will be beneficial to many people in the workplace or other areas of life.


Mentoring provides people with support and guidance from somebody who has already experienced success in an area similar to that being explored by the mentee. The mentor can give the mentee invaluable advice about how to achieve success.

Mentoring usually lasts for a shorter period of time than coaching, as the mentor’s knowledge and skills are less directly relevant to the mentee’s current situation. This means that a new coach can also become a mentor when further experience is gained.


A coach helps others to discover and achieve their own goals. The coach will listen carefully to the needs of the individual client. A coach provides support, challenge and encouragement in order to help people move forwards with their lives.

Coaching is less formal than training or mentoring as it involves a personal development programme which is tailored specifically for each individual client.

How do I find out if I would make a good coach?

Think about the last time you were asked for advice by somebody. You may have been in a situation where somebody was struggling with an issue and you had to think quickly about how best to help them move forwards; or maybe it was a close friend who just needed somebody to listen attentively and provide support.

You may also be a parent, who finds that you are constantly offering guidance to your children about how to deal with difficult situations and decisions they have to make at school or within their social circles.

These are just two examples of the many times when we can all find ourselves in a position where somebody is looking for our help and guidance. Perhaps this is why it is so easy for us to transfer these skills to becoming a coach, helping others in a genuine and caring manner.

If you can recall times when somebody has asked you for your help or you have been able to offer advice which has helped them, then perhaps coaching would be a rewarding career choice for you.

By receiving coaching training you will be able to build on these skills and enable yourself to make a difference in somebody else’s life.

What is the role of a coach?

Coaches help people and teams: A coach listens carefully to what their client wants to achieve. They provide challenge and support, assisting others in identifying blind spots which may be holding them back.

Coaches are not managers: They do not give orders or direct people as to how they should be performing in their roles at work. This can often lead to conflict, which is why it is essential that there are clear boundaries between the two roles. When coaching within an organisation, coaches will discuss these boundaries with the manager and agree on what coaching can and cannot achieve.

Coaches support their clients in making positive changes: By enabling people to reach their full potential, coaches help teams and organisations perform better. This is particularly apparent in the field of sports coaching, where improved performance can have a direct impact on success at national or international levels.

What skills are needed to become a coach?

Some of the key skills needed by coaches are: The ability to listen and empathise with others; A desire to help, support and encourage individuals; Self-confidence in order to build up the trust of those being coached; Flexibility, patience and optimism so that difficult situations can be tackled effectively; A positive and professional attitude towards working with people; Good time-management, organisational and administrative skills.

What qualifications do I need?

To become a coach you will typically require coaching qualifications which provide the knowledge and techniques that underpin effective coaching practice. This is an area where there is no requirement to complete formal academic study as many of the courses available are vocational and ensure that you learn through experience. A number of different coaching qualifications are available, these include:

Certificate in Coaching Practice (CCP)   – This program is provided by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), it consists of a combination of on-line learning materials which can be accessed from anywhere at any time. It is completed in 3 months, with an ILM assessment at the end of the program.

Level 5 Certificate in Coaching (QCF) – This is a Level 5 qualification on the QCF and is also provided by ILM. Completion time varies depending upon which options are taken, however this looks to be between 12 – 18 months.

Diploma in Leadership and Management (DipLM) – This qualification is awarded by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) and is a highly respected coaching qualification which satisfies many of the pre-requisites for potential coaches within professional football clubs.

The FA Coach Award: this can be completed in just 4 days and consists of a mixture of face-face workshops and online learning. It is aimed at those working within community football, however there are no pre-requisites for entry.

Short Online Courses

What are the main functions of coaching? 

There is no definitive list of the functions of coaching, however some areas which are commonly covered in coaching include:

Is it compatible with my current role?

Coaching can be done as a stand alone activity or alongside an existing work role. It’s essential to first discuss coachin g within your organisation with your manager who will determine if it is compatible with your current work responsibilities.

If you are coaching within a team that you also manage, this may mean having to identify which role takes priority should there be a conflict of interest. It’s vital that clear boundaries and agreements are set in order to avoid any confusion or misunderstandings later on.

Is the coach experienced?

Make sure the coach has experience in coaching and not just project management or counselling for example. A good coach will be able to challenge you to think about your current work situation by asking effective questions to help you identify the root issues. It is important though that they do not take over your role by trying to fix things for you.

Will the coach have a positive impact on my work?

It’s important that any coaching relationship has an ending so as to ensure that the coach does not have undue influence over your day-to-day work situation. This can be achieved by setting clear objectives and aims of coaching from the start and by ensuring regular reviews are conducted.

Who else can I speak to about my current role?

You are not alone in your work role, a number of colleagues may be able to offer additional support and alternatives. Coaching is just one of the many routes you can travel when dealing with work problems.

Is coaching something that I have control over?

Although it’s important to be open to the advice and guidance of your coach, ultimately it is your choice as to how you implement coaching suggestions in your work role. The decision must always remain with you!

Additional notes.  Please note that coaching is not something which can typically be set up with someone within a day or so, it can take weeks or months to set up depending on the availability of a suitable coach. It may also be necessary for you to wait some time before receiving a coaching appointment.

You are in the best position to decide whether coaching is right for you and your organisation, so consider carefully both the positive and negative aspects and seek as much information as possible. Speak to colleagues who may have received coaching to hear their views and experiences as well as talk to the coach themselves. You may also find it beneficial to read some of the available literature so you can make an accurate decision about coaching.

Why is there a current interest in coaching – some examples?

Today’s employers are more conscious than ever about their legal, moral and financial responsibilities towards their employees. Coaching can therefore be a positive support tool for organisations to remain competitive whilst helping the welfare of staff.

If you feel like your career is stagnating, coaching may help you explore why this is and what you can do about it. Many managers use coaching to help them in their work roles as it can be a way of developing faster than other forms.

In today’s booming economy, many people are ‘in transition’ throughout their working life and need support. When what you have been doing is no longer fulfilling or you feel that your career has stalled, coaching offers another perspective and choice that you can make. Coaching can help you move on more positively from past experiences or regretful mistakes, as well as helping you to get a new perspective on how to approach your career goals.

Like everything else coaching is not the ‘answer’ and will not solve every problem but it may offer another choice for you to consider.

What are the benefits of coaching?

Coaching is a great way to motivate and inspire people to perform at their best. After being coached, individuals will be able to achieve more of what they want in life.

– Research has shown that coaching is one of the fastest ways for a person to reach his or her goals and change habits. Professional coaches help people set goals, think positively and motivate them to do better. A coach can help individuals develop their ideas and leadership skills, raise self-awareness and increase motivation. By following coaches’ advice, people can make smart decisions about the future and live a happy life.

What are the benefits of coaching for employees?

Coaching can be a great tool for both employers and employees. Managers can coach their team members to maximize their work performance, while the employees themselves can achieve more in just a short period of time.

– Employees who have been coached are happier

and perform better at work than others. Studies have shown that people who receive coaching from their managers raise their self-awareness, which leads to them achieving more at work. Professional coaches are also able to help employees set goals and develop their ideas and leadership skills. By following the advice of a coach, employees will be able to make smart decisions about themselves and achieve what they want in life.

– Coaching benefits managers as well

By increasing the team’s morale, employees will be motivated to improve their work performance and therefore, create more positive work relationships with each other. Coaching is also a great way for managers to motivate employees and encourage them do better.

– A coach can help support the development of employees in all areas, such as leadership skills, problem solving and decision-making. They can encourage employees to express their concerns and thoughts without fear of judgement.

Types of questions or prompts used in Coaching:

Types of questions and prompts that can be used are infinite. The following list contains some of the more common types:

Open-ended question:

– an open-ended question is one that can’t be answered in a few words or a simple phrase. It usually requires a narrative answer, such as “tell me about what you did this weekend”.

Closed-ended question:

– a closed-ended question is a request for specific information. It can typically be answered in one or two words, such as “yes” or “no”.

Leading questions – A leading question tries to directly influence the answer of the person asked the question. An example would be: “You do agree that Tom is a good worker, don’t you?”

Loaded question:

– this type of question attempts to attach either an implied or hidden meaning to the question. A few examples: “When did you stop beating your wife?”.


– this is repeating back what someone said in their own words. It is particularly helpful if you don’t understand or didn’t hear what the person said. Examples might be: “So are you saying that your car wouldn’t start this morning?” or “I’m sorry. What did you say your new phone number is?”.  Reflecting statements – these are general statements about emotions, without pointing fingers at anyone. An example would be: “It sounds like you’re feeling pretty frustrated about this”.


– a summary is a brief restatement of what has been said that includes the main points. It can be useful to confirm that your understanding is correct, as in “So let me see if I’ve got this right….”.

Probing questions:

– a probing question is another way of asking for more information. It can be used to ask about vague comments, and may be short or open-ended. Example: “Can you tell me a little more about your concerns?”

Helpful Hints for your Coaching Skills:

Take time to listen:

– Active listening is your greatest tool. Before you say anything, make sure you’ve heard what the other person has said.

Show respect for others:

– all participants in a coaching session are adults and should be treated as equals. Set ground rules for behaviour so that everyone knows how to participate in a productive and effective discussion.

Remain neutral:

– Avoid taking a side as soon as you hear an opinion or idea that conflicts with your own personal beliefs. It may be necessary to reflect back what someone has said in order for them to realize that their thoughts are not necessarily the same as yours, but this can be done without showing partiality.

Use “I” statements:

– This will help avoid defensiveness on the part of participants. Rather than saying, “You did not include me when you told everyone about the new project”, try to rephrase it as “I felt left out when you told everyone about the new project”.

Accentuate the positive:

– It’s not always necessary to point out the problems that arise in a coaching session. Try instead to draw attention to what has gone well and where participants have done something right.

Be genuine:

– There is nothing more unconvincing than someone who smiles when they are angry or tells someone “I understand how you feel” when they really don’t. If you have no intention of following through on what you say, it is better not to say anything at all.

Be prepared:

– Just as participants should be well prepared for a coaching session, so should the coach. Make sure that you know your objectives before a session begins and know what steps need to be taken to achieve them.

Take notes:

– Not only will this ensure that you remember everything discussed in a session, but your participants will feel respected and valued. Make sure everyone sees you writing things down so they know you are taking their concerns seriously.

Provide feedback and reinforcement:

– how people perform is not always apparent to them and they may not be aware that they are doing something right. A bit of positive feedback along the way will help people feel good about their abilities and give them confidence in themselves.

Allow time for silence:

– don’t expect participants to respond immediately to everything you say. If you ask a question, wait for a few moments before you move on to the next point. You might also encourage participants to take a turn at speaking without interruption.

Be observant:

– watch non-verbal signals as much as listening to the actual words being said. Facial expressions, body language and tone of voice can all tell you if people are agreeing with what is being said or if they are not sure about something.

Avoid jargon:

– most people do not understand abbreviations and technical terms and will be confused by them, so it is best to avoid using them in coaching sessions. Remember that you are talking to other human beings, not machines or computers.

Don’t expect immediate results:

– don’t set objectives that are too ambitious. Coaching is a gradual process and it may take time before people really understand what you want them to do.

Develop strategies for resolving conflict:

– the ability to resolve disagreement and confrontation will be imperative if participants are not to walk away feeling alienated or discouraged.