Performance coaching has been utilised in business for decades, but has become more visible. It’s a form of one-to-one learning: a coach supports the client’s self-development in a way that benefits themselves and their organisation. Its aim is to unlock potential and increase performance.
“One-to-one coaching has definitely been one of the biggest growth areas in the world of training and development over the last few years,” says Barry Lynch, founder and managing director of Insight Coaching Ireland.
“When I was initially involved in coaching, back in the 1990s, it was quite common for the client to keep everything low-key, and not tell many people that they had a coach. There was almost a sense that people would think there was something wrong, if you had a coach. Now, the opposite is true: people almost feel there is something wrong, if you don’t have a coach. Nowadays, coaching is seen as an integral part of personal and professional development,” says Mr Lynch.
Having graduated from UCC with a degree in civil engineering and a post-graduate diploma in mechanical engineering, Barry worked as a process engineer in the electronics industry, initially with NEC Semiconductors, and Alps Electric.
Eventually transitioning from engineering into training and development, he began to identify training needs and deliver some of his own programmes. Having worked full-time as an independent training consultant and coach since 1998, with clients in Ireland, the UK, and South Africa, his range of training and development programmes includes presentation and communication skills, time and stress management, problem-solving, team-building, and meeting management.
As a certified Myers-Briggs type indicator practitioner, his methods incorporate Edward de Bono’s ‘Six Thinking Hats’ and lateral thinking programmes. “In recent years, I have specialised in one-to-one performance coaching, and, to date, I have coached over 200 people, from a variety of organisations, in both the private and public sectors,” Mr Lynch says.
“Clients come from all levels: CEOs, leadership team members, middle managers, supervisors and frontline staff.” He has also coached non-profit organisations, charities, and in education.
“I also work with private clients, who are looking for personal, one-to-one coaching on a variety of topics. Irrespective of where the client is coming from, I always encourage them to set both work and non-work goals to focus on during the coaching programme, as the two areas are so closely interlinked. Goal-setting ensures that we are working towards some tangible, concrete outcomes, rather than just exploring topics in a general way.
“Perhaps it’s because of my engineering background, but I always like to have a clear structure for each coaching session, and also for the overall coaching programme,” Mr Lynch says.
Public speaking is an essential skill, and a task that many people fear the most. “One-to-one coaching in this area is very beneficial, as it targets the specific needs of the client. They can see real changes and improvements from reviewing recordings of themselves delivering presentations, and also from getting feedback from the coach,” Mr Lynch says.
One of the prerequisites for a successful coaching programme is the development of a strong bond between client and coach, he says: “Coaching, by its nature, involves a great degree of self-analysis and self-disclosure, and the client needs to feel very comfortable discussing these areas with the coach. Before taking on a new client, I would always arrange an informal chat over coffee, so as to ensure that we are both happy to work together.
“And once the programme begins, confidentiality is key to maintaining that sense of trust, as all areas of the client’s life are discussed: work life, home life, and personal topics.”