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Coaching Index: A way of finding out your coaching readiness

When working with a potential coachee to decide if coaching is something that would be of benefit to them, it is useful to have a tool with a series of indicators that can help someone identify their own and other’s ‘readiness’. In part this is important because a coach who works with a client who is not ready can experience a negative impact on their confidence and skills as a coach. The Coachability Index (CI) is one such tool.

A CI questionnaire requires a person considering coaching to provide and ‘either / or’ forced choice response to a number of questions, where their answer helps signal if they are ‘coachable’. According to Krishna (2015) Four categories that indicate a person’s willingness learn and willingness to change (i.e. what are they willing to to give up or do differently in order to learn and develop professionally - Cheslow, 2013) are:

  • Learnability: A person’s willingness to learn, un-learn and re-learn.

  • Changeability: A person’s willingness to shift their mindset and change habits

  • Believability: A person’s belief in their own strengths and abilities, as well as belief in the potential of a coach to support them through change

  • Flexibility: A person’s ability to create and work with an alternative solutions if an initial approach is not working.

(Adapted from Krishna, 2015)

These categories are used to form the basis of questions, which differ from version to version. Each response has a score, and the questionnaire provides feedback around a person’s score, which includes whether they are ready for coaching. Two examples are:

The ideal coachee will have a score that reflects a high willingness to learn and a high willingness to work for and within change. However, a person’s CI is not a static state (Cheslow, 2013), and it will go through cycles depending on factors such as motivation, and change over time. They might also be really open to learn something, but at the same time not be willing to apply what they have learned and as such the person’s desired outcome won’t be achieved (Cheslow, 2013). Again, this can change, and, therefore it is well worth revisiting a person to have the readiness discussion.

Ten example indicators that help add detail to the four categories above are (adapted from Southern Institute of Technology, 2015, Module D, CBC101). (Please note that item 9 is specifically for contexts where a manager would work with a person in their team as coach and coachee.):

  1. I understand what coaching is and how I can benefit from working with a coach;

  2. I believe that coaching could help me realise my potential, especially by supporting me to develop skills to work ‘smarter’

  3. I am happy to, over several months. commit time and energy specifically to my professional learning and development

  4. I believe that my future is bright, and that I can change professionally to influence my future positively

  5. I can, and already do, use my mistakes to help me shape my professional practice going forward

  6. I feel that I can influence, through my own actions, the direction of my professional career

  7. I would like to learn more about myself, as well as improving my communication, cooperation, and collaboration skills

  8. I already take responsibility for my actions, and am ready to develop this further, while also doing my best to succeed

  9. I trust that my manager and I can work together effectively as coach and coachee, and I am comfortable with my manager’s integrity and experience

  10. I am interested in discussing myself, my job and my professional performance, and in receiving feedback

To help a person work through a CI it can be useful to have a discussion with a specific CI questionnaire in mind. The advantage here is that you can check for shared understandings and areas the person may have concerns about, as well ask questions to identify gaps. Alternatively, a potential coachee can work through a CI questionnaire alone. The benefit of this in a larger organisation would be efficiency. However, a drawback could be that a person may not fully understand the implications of the indicators in the questionnaire. With further clarification of the CI an ambivalent person might, through discussion, see clearly how coaching could work for them.

The real power of a CI is that it provides a clear indication as to whether someone is ready to participate in a coaching relationship. On a practical front a CI provides concrete statements about what coaching comprises, which in turn can challenge some people’s opinion that coaching is only for the executives of a company. It might also help other people explore their opinion that it is “something pink and fluffy that you’ll never do again after the training” (Bob Dixon, in Weekes, 2008, p. 29.

A CI may also help a person consciously see some of their own strengths (such as the ability to communicate well in a variety of circumstances), and areas to work on (for example, strategies that help them work ‘smarter’). However, some people may not currently be reflective practitioners. As such, a CI can help them identify that an openness to self-exploration and unpacking of (positive and negative) experiences in their practice is going to be necessary for their professional learning. This is particularly important for deep learning and to challenge “those aspects of the status quo ... that need to change” (Robertson, 2015, p. 11). It is also important that a coachee understands some of the expectations of participating in a professional coaching relationship. As such, a CI helps highlight some aspects of what they will need to bring to the relationship.

For coaching to be effective the potential coachee has to be open to their own change, which can be uncomfortable and disorienting (Owen, & Dunham, 2015). It is only at the point we begin to change where “we begin to see the new possibilities for practice. Our thinking changes and our mindsets change. Our cognitive framework changes, our belief system changes, and we personally move into the transformative stage of the change process” (Robertson, 2015, p. 12). A CI can help signal that they will need to be part of their own change during the coaching process.

Ideally a coachee will undertake coaching voluntarily, and therefore needs to have the conversation beforehand that will help the understand what coaching is within their current context. Where this isn’t the case the coachee is likely to not see the benefits, not be open to discussions, and may actively prioritise other commitments (i.e. they won’t put in the time and energy required for coaching to really be effective).

Image: 25 Oct - Pipiwai Road & sign to Purua. views on 40m cycle and pics. CC ( BY NC SA ) licensed Flickr image by hazelowendmc:


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