Having trailed along on the business sidelines for a number of years, coaching is suddenly enjoying a major surge of popularity. But what's it all about? Tennis in the Boardroom? Golf swings by the water cooler?
Myles Downey's book, despite its relative brevity, makes an excellent job of introducing some of the key considerations involved in training or hiring business coaches. At 135 pages (including the Introduction) you obviously aren't going to get an in-depth explanation of what coaching can do for you and/or your company. What I think you WILL get is a pretty good feeling for whether coaching is something you want to get involved with.
If that makes the book sound a bit airy-fairy, I apologise. Mr Downey also does an excellent job of laying the groundwork for becoming an "effective coach" - if that's what you're after. There are plenty of very practical tips, including useful models, such as the "Spectrum of Coaching Skills" and the "GROW" (or "TO GROW") outline for any coaching session.
One of the highlights of the book as far, as I was concerned, was the inclusion of snippets of dialogue (ranging from a few lines to several pages in length) used to actually demonstrate how to handle various elements of the coaching function.
The one element of the book I felt a little uneasy about was Mr Downey's hypothesis that a manager can also function as coach to one of his/her subordinates. As Mr Downey himself points out, facts and thoughts might emerge during a coaching session that could potentially be somewhat damaging when it comes to appraisal time. There seems to be an assumption that a "good" manager could somehow separate the two functions and ignore in 'manager mode' the things s/he has learnt whilst in 'coaching mode'.
I'd suggest that this is a piece of impractical idealism, which places an unrealistic and unfair burden upon the manager and the coachee alike.
Rather than sweeping such considerations under the rug, it seems to me that coaching is likely to remain a fad until issues such as this have been fully addressed and resolved.