Book Review – Coaching at Work: Powering Your Team With Awareness, Responsibility and Trust by Matt Somers

Coaching at WorkCoaching at Work subtitled, Powering Your Team With Awareness, Responsibility And Trust was written by Matt Somers to emphasize the importance of coaching at work particularly for managers and to help those who want to use coaching learn basic skills that can help them apply coaching to their day-to-day work.

The book is divided into four parts which I have briefly summarised below. This is a sizable book with 333 pages but one that is worth reading because of the quality of information in it.

PART ONE – HOW TO COACH

This part focuses on providing us with the basic skills to undertake coaching on a formal or informal basis. It has five chapters.

Chapter One – Peak Coaching Model PT 1 – Potential & Interference

This chapter defines what coaching is and also explores potential. Coaching is a tool that can help to release people’s potential, so Matt spends time in this chapter exploring the things that may be holding people back from reaching their potential.

Chapter Two – Peak Coaching Model PT2 – Performance, Learning and Enjoyment

This chapter is about getting ready for performance and the core focus is on understanding how to access motivation to bring about high performance.

Chapter Three – Peak Coaching Model PT3 – Coaching and Communication

Deals with the importance of coaching and communication. In fact, coaching is referred to as communication. Different levels of communication are explored. Also the principles of trust, awareness, focus and responsibility as they apply to coaching are discussed.

Chapter Four – Peak Coaching Model PT4 – The Coaching ARROW

Ultimately great coaching is about asking the right questions and in this chapter, there are lots of advice about asking good coaching questions. We are also introduced to the ARROW framework for structuring coaching conversations. ARROW stands for:

  • Aims
  • Reality
  • Reflection
  • Options
  • Way Forward

Chapter Five – The Model in Practice

This chapter starts out comparing coaching with other types of interventions such as training, mentoring and counselling. What Matt refers to as the ‘inner game of coaching’ is discussed. The inner game of coaching’ is about what goes on in the head of the coach as they attempt to do their best at coaching someone. Other areas touched on here are common mistakes that work-based coaches make, typical coaching qualities, listening and a brief introduction to running a coaching session.

PART 2 – HOW TO APPLY COACHING

This part of the book is more practical and it looks at specific areas where Matt has been asked to provide coaching support. Each chapter focuses on a particular discipline where Matt provided support through coaching.

Chapter 6 – This chapter focuses on coaching to support sales.

Chapter 7 – This chapter focuses on coaching to support delivering presentations.

Chapter 8 – This chapter focuses on coaching to support personal organisation.

Chapter 9 – This chapter focuses on coaching to support performance reviews.

Chapter 10 – This chapter focuses on coaching to support career development.

PART 3 – HOW TO IMPLEMENT COACHING

This is the final part of the book with four chapters that deal with using coaching as an overall management approach.

Chapter 11 – Towards a Coaching Culture

In this chapter culture is defined and a number of cultural indicators which can be used to define current culture and create a desirable culture are outlined and explained. These indicators are important if an organisation wants to identify its current culture and work towards a more coaching focused culture.

Chapter 12 – Implementing a Coaching Programme

This chapter provides some practical ideas for creating a coaching culture. Some of the topics discussed are coaching training, training providers, success criteria, contracting and running coaching sessions.

Chapter 13 – Evaluating the Programme

The premise of this chapter is straightforward, how do you prove the value of coaching. It looks at how to evaluate a coaching programme.

Chapter 14 – Making the Business Case For Coaching

This is the last chapter and a fitting one too.  The question really in this chapter is whether there is a justification for investing in coaching? Are the resources invested in developing managers as coaches worth it? Matt believes it’s worth it and highlights some key areas where coaching can have positive impacts. These areas are, dealing with people problems, dealing with change, resource problems and pressure problems.

Overall this is an in-depth book on coaching and one that is great especially for managers wanting to develop their coaching skills. Though a large book, I recommend it to be part of the reading involved in any leadership or/and management development programme.

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