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Past and Present Views of Coach-&-Coachee Relationship



Organizations, and employees alike, are recognizing the importance of coaching. New hires ask for coaching and expect it as a perk in employment contracts. This is especially true with millennials.


According to Gallup, 59% of millennials report that opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important when applying for a job, and 87% rate such opportunities important to them in their current jobs (How Millennials Want to Work and Live).


As demand for coaching gains momentum, this blog aims to reflect on past and present views of a coach and a coachee to clarify any misconceptions.


Past and Present Views of a Coach


Traditionally, a coach was a person of authority within the organization; typically, a senior manager. They were given the responsibility of “fixing poor performance” by telling the person being coached (the coachee) what to do. Coaches determined what was important, and their decisions were never assessed. People skills were not deemed critical in coaching.


Today, coaching is acknowledged as a multidirectional responsibility. A manager, a peer and direct reports can all be coaches irrespective of the organizational hierarchy. Rather than "fixing" the coachee, a coach focuses on the strengths of coachee and supports them in achieving their goals.


A coach does not (and should not) tell a coachee what to do nor offer suggestions based on how they would tackle a challenge themselves. Instead, the coach focuses on asking thought-provoking questions to help the coachee come up with a best-fit solution for themselves.


In today’s definition of coaching, both the coach and coachee learn from each other, and grow their capabilities during a coaching session. People skills are key so much so that a growing number of companies assess their managers on their coaching skills.


Past and Present Views of a Coachee


In the past, a coachee was a person lower in the organizational hierarchy. They were perceived to be performing poorly and in need of direction from their manager. The coaching session was a one-way discussion where the coach determined the content, and the coachee was given detailed instructions on what to do.


This view of a cochee has changed tremendously. Now, a coachee can be anyone in the organization, junior or senior positions alike. Coaching is not about poor performance, it is about building on current strengths to help the coachee excel in their performance. The biggest change is in the fact that the coachee determines what goals they want to achieve for themselves and steer the coaching conversation.


The coachee learns by experimentation and dialogue, rather than by example. They own the deadlines they set for themselves of which the coach holds them accountable. What’s more, the coachee is encouraged to give feedback to the coach on how their coaching session went to improve future sessions.


In Summary


Coaching has come a long way from past expectations and definitions. It is a skill that requires much practice and patience to master. The Coaching Skills workshop offers an opportunity to develop your coaching skills. Please feel free to reach out for more information.

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