Coaching at work - a method of facilitating self-directed learning or controlling it?

Fillery-Travis, Annette and Cavicchia, Simon (2013) Coaching at work - a method of facilitating self-directed learning or controlling it? In: Researching Work and Learning: The visible and invisible in work and learning, June 2013, Sterling University. . [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Work place coaching can no longer be considered a passing management fad. It is now a common method for senior leader development within public, private and third sector organisations and responsible for a significant proportion of the training and development budgetary spend (Jarvis, Lane, & Fillery-Travis, 2006).

It has moved from being the rescue-remedy for the poorly performing executive to being an accepted part of the learning & development strategy with an increasing emphasis on moving away from delivery by external coaches to developing coaching cultures where coaching is considered an appropriate leadership and managerial style (McComb, 2012; Megginson & Clutterbuck, 2005). This investment has led to a focus proving efficacy through outcomes research and there is now the development of a significant evidence base concentrating upon impact and return on investment (Fillery-Travis & Passmore, 2011). It has proven efficacy as a vehicle for embedding learning across all employee levels and as a method of team development (Brockbank & McGill, 2006). In sectors such as education, health and manufacturing over 70% of organisations are using it as a main development tool for their employees (CIPD, 2008).

The model of coaching used, its delivery, scope and duration differs according to the overt identified purpose of the intervention. The practice of coaching encompasses the relative linear process of skills development to the complexity of developmental coaching (Passmore, 2007) where the coachee can explore their concept of self, identity and practice within the workplace through improvement in the ‘quality of their perception of the work environment’, their awareness of their own conditioning and self-deception and how they synthesise their various models of self (Bachkirova, 2011).

In this paper we uncover and explore some of the assumptions implicit in the use of coaching within organisations. Most coaches would identify much of their role to be the facilitation of the critical reflection by the coachee on what they are seeking from their work role in terms of achievement, impact and professional development. Specifically this form of coaching is driven by the coachee’s own agenda for learning and the organisation’s role is simply that of the containing environment. The coaching literature is currently grappling with two distinct voices on this issue – one from the business coaches closely aligned to a ‘managerialist’ perspective where impacts upon performance are the only criteria for effectiveness of the learning achieved (Dagley, 2006) and the second from executive coaches who see themselves as holding a difficult balance between the personal agenda of the coachee and the implicit/explicit agendas of the sponsoring organisation. Using a critical review of the literature and offering a short vignette from practice we explore how holding this tension can result in implicit compromises in the learning agreement between coaches, clients and stakeholders. Often these compromises inhibit challenge to organisational norms that is the hallmark of deeper learning. We shall offer an example of where holding and exploring the tension between individual and organisational requirements can result in a more generative resolution where new knowledge and practice might emerge.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Areas: A. > Work and Learning Research Centre
Item ID: 13147
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Depositing User: Annette Fillery-Travis
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2014 10:12
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2022 00:17

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