Home Concepts Best Practices Coaching in Organizations: A Status Report (Past, Present and Future)

Coaching in Organizations: A Status Report (Past, Present and Future)

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Personal vs. Organizational Focus

First, do Rachel and Sam focus on the mess through the lens of Sam’s personal life and issues? Do they attend to his stress and his inability to craft a life where the priorities of home and work are in balance? Sam believes that his wife, Marnie, encouraged him to find a coach because she feels that he is devoted too little time to their two pre-teen children and, frankly, to their own marital relationship. He works most weekends, always is writing or editing an email when the family sits down to watch a DVD, and hasn’t been involved in a family vacation for more than three years. Marnie and Sam own a cottage on one of the lovely lakes in Minnesota but rarely spend any time there.

On the other hand, Sam wants to confront several of the immediate organizational problems that are helping to create the stress and are pushing him to work overtime. These problems include the inability of his subordinates to take on full responsibility for the tasks they are assigned (meaning that Sam himself ends up doing the work) and the failure of his President, Kurt, to remain consistent in his expectations regarding priorities for Sam’s department. Are we pushing decreased costs and efficiency, or increased quality of service with a significant reduction in administrative errors? Sam also is quite frustrated with the role he plays at the hospital in relationship to Kurt.

It seems that Kurt is something of a “visionary” and, as a result, Sam must be the “practical” one. Furthermore, Kurt often goes visionary precisely at the point when the hospital is faced with a crisis that needs to be resolved in short order. While Kurt points to and talks endlessly about “the bigger picture” and about taking a “long view,” Sam is saddled with solving the immediate problems that seem to land on his desk every day. “Why can’t I [Sam] sometime be the one who offers a dream?” “Why does Kurt always have to be the one with the ‘big’ [but often impractical] idea?” While these organizational issues impact on Sam’s personal life, they must be addressed at an organizational rather than personal level.

Somewhere around the early 1990s, the field of professional coaching began to split apart—for good or ill. Many of the early practitioners of professional coaching came out of a personal growth background. They had conducted encounter or sensitivity training groups, or had done career counseling or served as a marital counselor or therapist. These experienced practitioners saw professional coaching as a new way to “package” what they were already delivering or as a way to move beyond the intensive, small group format (which yielded impressive but short-term impact). They saw sustained work with a “client” on a one-on-one basis as a perfect venue for unrestricted exploration of issues in their client’s life—whether these issues are about marriage, friendships, finances, emotional life or even spiritual life.

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