Preparedness for Coaching (1): BSC Research

5 minute read

In this first blog, we will tell you why and how we carried out this research, and present some of the key findings and conclusions. The second blog will recap the information from this blog and present the remainder of the key findings and conclusions, then bring together the overall key messages of the research.

Why did BSC carry out this research?

We were aware of the impact of Covid-19 – the past 12 months has been increasingly difficult, with restrictions on social and economic activities, reduced income, loss of livelihood for some and most distressing of all, serious ill-health or bereavement for some. Whilst for others this has created more time and space, the opportunity to explore new hobbies and interest and for some explore what is really important to them.  We knew that these stressors would impact coaches personally and that opportunities for face-to-face coaching were severely restricted so we were interested to find out what the impact these factors might be to coaching practice.

Are coaches preparing for coaching differently in the Covid-19 environment?

BSC wanted to understand what difference, if any, the restrictions and concerns arising from the Covid-19 pandemic has made to the approaches coaches are using to their coaching practice.  We chose as our focus, to ask whether coaches were preparing themselves for coaching any differently since the pandemic restrictions were implemented and their reasons for changing or not changing their approach.

How did we go about answering our question?

We sent a questionnaire to 322 of our active learners who were registered with ILM to study for and work towards coaching qualifications. We stressed to the learners that they could answer as much or as little as they were comfortable with. Although we had asked tutor to forward on this questionnaire to their learners we made it clear that the project is totally independent of their tutor/supervisor and of any assessment. We stressed that their responses will be treated in confidence and will be presented in anonymous form.

We offered learners the opportunity to have their name published as having contributed to the project and helped the coaching profession to develop to meet the challenges posed by the consequences of this pandemic, if they wished and gave  us permission to do so.  The names of those who did give permission are added to this blog.

27% (86) learners responded fully and no concerns/criticisms about the survey or the questionnaire raised. We were pleased with these responses.

How are we disseminating the results of our research?

The responses to this survey were presented to the BSC coaching network on 20 March 2021. We are publishing these two blogs with the findings and key messages from the survey.  We will be using the findings to contribute to our coaching training – both for formal ILM qualifications and for our own coaching programmes.

What did we ask the learners?

First, we asked the learners whether they had or had not made any changes to the way in which they prepared themselves for coaching practice.

We offered a list of possible ways in which learners might have changed their preparation, with the option to say for each item whether they had increased or reduced their focus, or that they had made no change.

We then asked learners to indicate their reasons for making changes or for not making changes.  Again, we offered a list of possible reasons from which learners could choose with an option to add ‘other’ reasons.

Key findings

Were learners preparing themselves for coaching differently?

The great majority of our leaners are preparing themselves for coaching differently in the Covid-19 environment. This indicates that they are experiencing the need to do things differently.

Supporting evidence

Four-fifths of our learners reported that they were indeed preparing themselves for coaching differently in the Covid-19 environment.

What changes were learners making?

The changes learners were making come under two headings – ‘specific coaching-related’ (supervision; practice use of technology; support from other learners/coaches; online support; reading; and managing thoughts and emotions); and ‘well-being’ (mindfulness; exercise; spending time in nature; making time for oneself; healthy eating; keeping hydrated; support from family/friends; getting enough sleep; meditation; time for having fun.

Overall, just over half the changes made related to wellbeing; and just under half related to specific coaching-related strategies.

  1. Specific coaching related: learners have:
  • focussed on practising their use of technology – this reflects the need for coaches to be able to use technology as a primary mechanism for coaching as face-to-face has become out-of-bounds in most instances; and indicates that our learners were aware of the need to be fluent, professional and confident in their use of technology for coaching;
  • increased their use of online sources of information and reading in preparing for their coaching sessions;
  • had accessed increased support from supervision, and
  • had increased their focus on managing thoughts and emotions – demonstrating that they were making space in their heads to prepare for working with clients.

Supporting evidence

Nearly three-quarters of learners were spending more time and effort practicing their use of technology; over half the learners told us that they had used online sources of information (podcasts, blogs, vlogs) and reading; and over half were focussing on managing their thoughts and emotions; learners turned to more support from their peers and other coaches and from supervision.

  1. Wellbeing: as part of their preparation for coaching, learners have:
  • devoted more time to mindfulness;
  • spent more time exercising
  • made more time for themselves
  • spent more time in nature
  • ensured they were eating healthily, keeping hydrated and getting enough sleep
  • made more time for themselves
  • accessed more support from friends and family.

Supporting evidence

Over half the learners increased their focus on mindfulness as part of their preparation for coaching; nearly half spent more time exercising, on making more time for themselves and spending more time in nature. About a third of the learners also spent more time on healthy eating and keeping hydrated, on getting enough sleep and making use of support from their friends and family.

What changes are coaches making in their preparation for coaching? – key messages

  • Our learners are using wellbeing techniques and coaching specific approaches to prepare for coaching in the current Covid-19 environment.
  • In particular, our learners had identified a need to practise the use of technology which will develop their skills and lead to increased professionalism and confidence.
  • It is clear that our learners are using wellbeing techniques to enhance themselves as a personal resource for their coaching.
  • Managing emotions and thoughts was a key factor for our learners – this indicates that they were focussed on managing their own head space to facilitate and enable their work with others.
  • Our learners were clearly making appropriate use of self- reflection in practice.
  • Our learners report the importance of connectedness – seeking support from others and using coaching supervision.

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