Is co-coaching effective?
If so, who needs it and how can you offer it as a service?
You may have heard the term co-coaching several times. You may also have wondered about whether it is effective.
You have come to the right place because today we will discuss all about it.
Let us begin by understanding what it is all about.
What is Co-Coaching?
According to Wikipedia, co-coaching is a structured practice of coaching.
It brings together peers with the ultimate goal to gain knowledge. This can be about learning how to coach or bettering their coaching techniques. One peer works as the coach for a set time. The other peer is the coachee. Then they reverse roles.
This technique allows each peer to receive constructive criticism and praise. It also creates a better foundation to coaching. This practice of co-coaching is especially important in management and sports. This is because leadership skills are a priority in these segments.
Forms of Co-Coaching
Wikipedia also discusses the forms of co-coaching.
There are many different forms that one can do to practice co-coaching.
One form involves each individual taking turns to be the coach in half hour sessions. This means the coach coaches the coachee for a half hour. The coach practices their techniques, while the recipient gives feedback on the coaching. This can be both good and bad. After the coach finishes, she switches roles with the coachee. This process of half hour sessions uses a feedback tool for self development in coaching.
Even though this is one form, other forms with the basic technique of a coach and coachee are also there. The term co-coaching is applicable so long as each person gets their turn. Each should also get feedback on their own performance from the other individual.
Is Co-Coaching Effective?
This article in psychologytoday.com says friends can be quite helpful as co-coaches. They must follow a few rules.
According to the writer, it works well for him and a friend. Here is why it makes sense. He says:
- You and your friend, by definition, like each other. So there is less risk of incompatibility than between a coach and a paying client.
- Your friend has a head start over a professional. When the first session starts, he already knows you well.
- Getting coached can feel dis-empowering. If, half the time, you are coaching the coach, it evens out.
- Because you know each other well, you can suggest problems worth addressing. You then brainstorm solutions that might work.
- Is the coach recommending more sessions so s/he can make more money? That fear is never there.
- It’s free.
Seems like a win- win situation. Does it not?
But beware, there is one drawback.
Wikipedia says since co-coaching is a relaxed method, the coach is able to make more mistakes. This has the potential to hurt or slow down the learning method.
Why is Co-Coaching Such a Big Hit?
Co-coaching works because of social reasons.
According to Wikipedia, “learning from another person, and vice versa, has proven to show a sociological impact in the learning stages.” In a co-coaching environment, one feels comfortable about learning because of a much more relaxed environment. A situation where they opt for formal coaching may make them feel more pressure. Since the learning process is relaxed, information flows easily from one to the other. This can have a strong impact on the person when it comes to the learning process.
What the above definition means is this: Learning in a structured environment is not everyone’s cup of tea. And co-coaching offers a great alternative by allowing each coach and coachee to set up new rules.
These new rules can be as relaxed as hosting the co-coaching sessions over dinner or in the park. As long as the aim is to learn and better one’s self, the co-coaching arrangement will work!
Impact on Behaviour
Besides the sociological aspect, there are also behavior aspects to consider in a co-coaching environment.
Wikipedia says since the coach and coachee are learning coaching techniques from one another, their behavior to the matter is also changing.
This approach allows the user to showcase their technique as solutions. At the same time it helps each individual to advance their own skills and mindset. They can interpret situations as they become the coach/coachee by turns.
Do you want to opt for formal training from a reputed institute? In that case, you may also want to read my blog How to Select the Best Coaching Training Program in 2021.
Co-Coaching for Learning
Co-coaching is a fantastic opportunity for learning. As a coach, it benefits you in 3 ways:
Co-coaching Helps Coaches
- Pause to analyze an individual coaching style. Then, better it with new coaching techniques
- Provide an enriching experience and engagement with peers
- Create network of support by sharing coaching techniques, perspectives and strategies
- Observe clients while they are in the co-coaching environment
- Create a better foundation for their coaching by swapping notes with different experts
Process of Co-Coaching
In the business environment, co-coaching is a cost-effective method for learning and knowledge sharing. It also has the added advantage of tapping into existing resources for business development. Although business co-coaching is not formal coaching, it is quite effective.
The practice of co-coaching can help any coach irrespective of their niche.
What you need to keep in mind is setting up clear objectives and choosing the right partner for co-coaching.
Things to keep in mind
There are a few things you should keep in mind while co-coaching.
What do you hope to achieve as an end result? What is your coachee looking to achieve? How do you envision the learning curve expanding? What does your co-coach think about the same?
How does the learning environment look like for you? What is an ideal learning time/spot for both?
Are both of you trained at least in the basic techniques of coaching another person? This is essential for the development of both. Ideally, co-coaching works best with peers. The give-and-take has to be among equals. The assessment of coaching at the end should be free of bias/awe on behalf of both.
Each group dynamic will be different but these three pointers will help you focus on the end result that you want to achieve.
The Effective Co-Coaching Partner
While choosing a peer, what are the qualities you should look out for?
Firstly, I would like to explain why my choice of adjective for describing a partner is “effective” and not “right”.
There is no right or wrong about choosing a partner for co-coaching. Each person will teach you something. But, in order for you to get the most value out of this partnership, you should keep certain things in mind.
Allow me to explain further.
Traits for Co-Coaching Success
Here is a list of questions that will help you evaluate the kind of partner who will be an effective ally for co-coaching.
Remember that your partner will also be looking for the same traits in you!
- Is your partner attentive? Does she listen to respond or to understand? When in doubt choose someone with a kind heart. She will have an open mind towards your struggles, pain, joy and successes. Cultural differences will also play a key role!
- Can you trust the partner that you are co-coaching with? Learning happens best when the environment feels safe and positive. If there are any niggling concerns, voice them.
- Do you identify with your partner’s journey? While it is not important to have walked in their shoes, it is important to have a basic understanding. Validate yourself and your partner’s struggles and successes for a rewarding co-coaching experience.
- Have you worked with the co-coaching partner before? If not, be sensitive to their sensitivities. Know when to offer suggestions and when to step back. Analyze whether certain emotions make either of you uncomfortable. It also helps if you agree in the beginning on how you will handle sensitive moments while co-coaching.
- Are you both optimistic and keen about finding solutions? There is no right and wrong personality to work with. Sometimes it helps if your co-coaching partner challenges you in ways that help you in the long run. But commitment towards first and small steps always helps.
- Can your partner keep you accountable? This is crucial for meeting objectives laid out initially in your co-coaching journey.
My last word of advice would be to consider your own objective and underlying dreams.
- What was the purpose of this co-coaching?
- What do you hope to learn?
- What do you hope to teach/give away?
Chart this out clearly at the beginning. Ask your co-coaching partner to do the same.
The end result then will be easy to measure.
Network for Co-Coaching
You may be wondering where you will find partners for co-coaching.
Perhaps you are just beginning your career as a coach. With global economies in crises you may not have the funds to take up a formal training or additional coaching degree.
There are several online platforms for finding a co-coaching peer. One is mentioned here.
But the beauty of co-coaching is that anyone can be your peer.
Best Platforms for Co-Coaching
Co-coaching is a hit in every sphere, whether it is personal or professional. I have broken down each of these spheres and given only two examples where it can be useful.
Co-coaching can be a perfect solution in a small organization where lateral learning would help everyone. Finding partners from different teams would help everyone appreciate and understand the nature of the business better. In such a case, co-coaching can be a great HR move to promote employee loyalty within a company.
Co-coaching also works great for women, who find it particularly difficult to manage time to undertake training. This can be an ideal situation as co-coaching helps with an upgrade of skills and the opportunity to learn. Since the environment is familiar, it also boosts employee engagement. In the context of coaching for women, I have listed some thoughts in an earlier blog on how coaching women is different from coaching men. You may also find my blog How to Become a Women Empowerment Coach (2021) helpful.
Have you reached a plateau as far as your coaching career is concerned? Given the current economic scenario, are you wondering if you can earn enough money to survive? It does not matter if you are an executive, spiritual or success coach. Everyone has the same concerns about winning clients in a tough market. All coaches are constantly being challenged to get noticed and advertise their services. If you can relate to some of these concerns, then co-coaching may be a good solution for you. Whether it is your personal life or career, finding a partner to learn new skills from is a boost like no other! Go for it.
Are you worried about how to take your career online? Well, this is a concern for many coaches. However, help is at hand. Here and here are some of the blogs I have written that will work as a great resource to get started. You may also want to expand your coaching business in many ways. Perhaps you want to discover a new niche. Or see how you can blend some skills from other niches into your own coaching practice.
Can you relate to these scenarios?
If so, have I convinced you to try co-coaching?
As coaches, we need to introspect and face our own inhibitions, weaknesses and self esteem and self love issues. The faster we understand and do this, the better we get at coaching itself!
But this is not all.
Co-Coaching for Clients
Remember, we said co-coaching can be done with anyone?
How about exploring the practice of doing it for your clients as it is a fantastic learning platform?
In his book Relationship Co‑Coaching: A New Approach to Deeper Love, Less Conflict!, the author Timothy J. Mccarthy explored this concept. After several decades as a marriage therapist, Dr. Mccarthy decided to let partners engage in co-coaching. This led to more engagement during the therapy and saved quite a few relationships!
Wikipedia has raised an interesting point about how it can also be used as a tool to study people. The set-up itself is interesting from the point of view of social study as it involves peers, the learning process and a working environment.
“Social scientists can use co-coaching to study the sociological impact that it has to a person, or a group as a whole…The entire learning process between coaching and learning is what social scientists deem the most important to further advance the learning of human beings on a social status.”
Wikipedia suggests that experiments will determine the best method when dealing with co-coaching. “The coach and coachee are valuable resources in understanding the correlation between the two and how each one advances each other. As one would usually prove this to be the case as in a face to face altercation, another way this technique could be distributed and tested could be that of the phone and internet. This way would furthermore advance the social science of learning in a modern-day way and could potentially create a futuristic way in the way people learn.”
This last bit was what I found very interesting. As countries shut down borders and recommended citizens to stay home, learning online became the new norm. And this trend may well become the new normal for the years that follow.
Resources for Co-Coaching
While co-coaching itself is a knowledge exchange, there is no harm preparing for the same. This will help you understand the basics of how to coach coaches or clients and get the most benefit out of the process.
I always recommend that as a coach you keep reading and staying updated on the latest trends.
Books to Read for Co-Coaching
There are several books written which may be helpful for you.
Look through some of the titles and see which one is a good read for you.
- Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives by Henry Kimsey-House, Karen Kimsey-House, Phillip Sandahl, Laura Whitworth
- Relationship Co‑Coaching: A New Approach to Deeper Love, Less Conflict! by Timothy J. Mccarthy
- Band of Guides: Base Camp for the Co-Coaching Revolution! by Catherine Schmidt and Jackie Corlin
- Co‑active Coaching: New Skills for Coaching People Toward Success in Work by Henry Kimsey-House, Laura A Whitworth, and Phillip Sandahl
- Co-Active Coaching, Fourth Edition: The Proven Framework for Transformative Conversations at Work and in Life by Karen Kimsey-House (Author), Henry Kimsey-House (Author), Phillip Sandhal (Author), Laura Whitworth (Author)
- COBB and CO. Coaching in Queensland Paperback – January 1, 1999 by Deborah Tranter (Author)
- Co-active Coaching: Changing Business by Henry Kimsey-House and Karen Kimsey-House
- Co-Active Coaching by Laura Whitworth
Besides this list you may also want to look up related coaching books on Goodreads. Some of the books that are relevant for you as coaches are:
- The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier
- Bowerman and the Men of Oregon: The Story of Oregon’s Legendary Coach and Nike’s Co-founder by Kenny Moore, Phil Knight
- The Coaching Hours (How to Date a Douchebag, #4) by Sara Ney
- The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods by Hank Haney
- Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition by Lyssa Adkins
- Coaching for Performance: GROWing Human Potential and Purpose – the Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership by John Whitmore
- Chalked Up: Inside Elite Gymnastics’ Merciless Coaching, Overzealous Parents, Eating Disorders, and Elusive Olympic Dreams by Jennifer Sey
- Unlocking Potential: 7 Coaching Skills That Transform Individuals, Teams, and Organizations by Michael Simpson
- Agile Coaching by Rachel Davies, Liz Sedley
- Coaching Questions: A Coach’s Guide to Powerful Asking Skills by Tony Stoltzfus (Goodreads Author)
- The Disorganized Mind: Coaching Your ADHD Brain to Take Control of Your Time, Tasks, and Talents by Nancy A. Ratey
- Mindfulness: The Most Effective Techniques: Connect With Your Inner Self To Reach Your Goals Easily and Peacefully (Positive Psychology Coaching Series Book 0) by Ian Tuhovsky
- Communication Skills Training: A Practical Guide to Improving Your Social Intelligence, Presentation, Persuasion and Public Speaking (Positive Psychology Coaching Series Book 9) by Ian Tuhovsky, Wendell Wadsworth (Editor)
- The Coaching Mindset: 8 Ways to Think Like a Coach by Chad Hall
- FYI: For Your Improvement, A Guide for Development and Coaching by Michael M. Lombardo, Robert W. Eichinger
- Conscious Coaching: The Art and Science of Building Buy-In by Brett Bartholomew
- The Art of Coaching: Effective Strategies for School Transformation by Elena Aguilar
- Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People by Bradford D. Smart
Another list is available here.
Some common life coaching books clients look up are listed here.
Podcasts and Videos on Co-Coaching
There are several YouTube videos and podcasts relevant for you to find out more about this practice.