How does coaching work?

Chances are every health professional, chiropractor, dentist, nurse, GP, surgeon, health care assistant, or even your veterinarian went into health care because they wanted to care for and help others to make a difference in their lives. If that’s you, keep on reading…

You entered you fields as well-intended, compassionate and energetic individuals.

Unfortunately, the current climate of medicine has created an environment of burnt out, stressed and marginalised providers.

Could health care professionals burnout be a public health crisis? Sadly, I know this to be true. As the wife of a primary health care provider and clinic manager of a small multi-displinary health care clinic I see it and experience it for myself everyday.

Fortunately, in 2016 I found coaching which revolutionised our lives, and personally helped me reconnect with who I am and who I wish to be. It’s worthwhile to note, that when I first discovered coaching, I had no idea what a coach was and never envisioned that I would become a coach.

Moreover, when I began coach training, I said that the one niche I didn’t want to specialize in was health care and business development. Ironically, but not surprisingly, the majority of my current clients are health care professionals who own their own business. The irony is not lost on me.

I realise now that a large number of health care providers are hurting, but they don’t allow themselves to acknowledge or show it. They long to reconnect with what truly matters and what initially made them choose a career in medicine. That’s where I come in.

What is coaching?

Unlike in business, coaching is relatively new to the world of medicine. 

As health care professionals, you are trained in the medical model, and your reflex is that “psychological issues” are referred to talking therapies.

I know that most health care providers are unaware of what coaching is, therefore, through no fault of their own, they do not recommend coaching to their patients and are sometimes slow to open up to being coached themselves. That’s why you’re here, asking questions…

Most coaches tell you that the best way to explain coaching to someone is to coach them. In my experience, I simply ask two questions for their first taste in coaching, try it now with me:

“How satisfied are you with your life right now on a scale of 1-10?” Got your number? Great, now consider: “How satisfied do you want to be?” The majority of clients look at me like I’m utterly insane and unanimously answer, “I’m miserable,” or “I’m not satisfied at all,” or “I cannot wait to retire!” And when they answer how satisfied they wish to be, they say, “Way more satisfied than I am now!” or “Anything would be better.”

Coaching can help bridge that gap between where you are now and where you want to be (even if you don’t know what that looks like yet!), my job as your coach is to be the catalyst for positive change and to keep you on the right track, help create balance in your life or achieve something you never thought possible. So, what is the difference between coaching and counselling?

The Evidence for Coaching

recent study by V. Woodhead found ten themes to identify why coaching is effective:

Coaching provides the opportunity, time and forum for discussions.

Understanding and appreciating others, including their challenges and constraints.

Coaches are perceived as independent, impartial practitioners making it easier for the team to open up, challenge each other and address uncomfortable issues.

Provides a safe space for opening up without the perceived risk of being viewed negatively- this helps the team develop a deeper understanding and awareness of each other.

Coaching helps you see beyond the mask to show the human side of the professional, removing barriers, and revealing concerns. This can create an enormous shift in perception throughout the team.

With improved focus and clarity of shared goals, coaching helps bring issues to the forefront, highlight agendas and prioritise issues.

Cascading information through collaboration, team members are more informed about each others’ progress and ways of working.

With a deeper sense of trust, team members have firmer belief that each will act in the others’ best interests, resulting in more collaborative, interactive decision making.

There is improved communication and better relationships as the dialogue between team members shows a greater respect for each others’ perspectives.

A commitment to continued, sustainable meetings to help the team present a more united front and stronger voice to those senior to them.

The Impact of Coaching

As medicine has moved away from doctor-centered care towards patient-centered, so management has moved away from the “command and control” approach which was so damaging to engagement and motivation. Through working with a coach, you will develop certain coaching skills yourself, the impact of which can be significant.

  • Help your team manage workloads and prioritise
    Coaching can help identify the root cause of issues that may be impacting on time management and productivity, then present a solution to overcome these. Managers and practice principals can coach their team to maintain their focus on the key priorities and work on the things that matter most.

  • Improve team engagement
    Teams are made up of individuals, with their own personalities and preferred communication styles. Through coaching, you’ll learn to better identify how to connect and engage with your team members by listening, responding, and valuing their talents. These are attributes that build loyalty, motivation and engagement.

  • Build teams that unite around a shared goal
    Open, honest conversations help teams learn how to receive and respond to advice. Coaching can facilitate communication, helping your team collaborate in new and more effective ways. In addition, by becoming more aware of how you communicate as an individual, you’ll be able to make better choices in how you work and interact with others.

  • Nurture and develop talent
    Coaching helps individuals think on their own and work proactively to solve their own problems, meaning that over time they become more self-reliant. Through developing their own initiative and leadership skills the whole team can tackle challenging issues and solve problems more effectively, instead of relying on managers or practice principals. This frees up time for managers to address more strategic issues.

  • A company culture that embraces change
    When teams communicate effectively, they are better placed to collaborate and encourage each other about key habits and behaviors they want to see in each other. With managers and principals who welcome and encourage change, the mentality flows throughout the company, allowing all tiers to adopt their own insights about how to model and welcome change.

“When I turned to Rhiannon at Oakley Coaching, I was lacking a bit of “get up and go” and felt a little bit stuck and unproductive. Coaching accelerated me to where I felt prepared to step up to be the Principal Chiropractor I wanted to be. My aim was to have an associate working for me within a year or more. Incidentally, after my first coaching session a potential associate contacted me and Rhiannon supported me through this and most recently the process of finding and hiring my new CA. I’ve welcomed the development of my role as a chiropractor and mentor for my new associate and am pleased to have created a structured, supportive environment for them to work in. I’ve learn’t that whatever you want to do in life, you’ve got to work hard, smart, and put the graft in. Coaching has ignited a new momentum in me and I’ve learned if I achieve something each day, no matter how small, it becomes easier to stay motivated and stay on the path I’ve set out for myself.

I feel proud each time I walk into my clinic and see my previously unused treatment room looking smart, I see my associates busy diary, and I hear her working in the clinic with me- it’s very satisfying! Coaching has given me the work life balance that I wanted- I’m more involved in my family and less worried about work whilst at home, I’ve stopped procrastinating and no longer let my own worries overwhelm me. Since working with Rhiannon I have a better picture of my end goal and what it is I’m ultimately trying to achieve with all this hard work. Now I’m off on holiday to spend some well deserved time off knowing that my clinic and patients are well taken care of.

Incidentally, my golfing handicap has also improved!”

Simon Delany BA(Hons) M(Chiro) DC, LRCC. Chiropractor UK St Ives Chiropractic

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