Coaching is support that happens through ongoing conversation and collaboration. Coaching can happen prior to a challenging event, in the midst of action, after a triumph or defeat, or during a pause between assignments.
Coaching is not just for new volunteer leaders; it should be an ongoing part of your relationship with the volunteer. The key elements of successful coaching are:
- A trusting, honest, respectful relationship between the coach and project leader
- Time for preparation and reflection
- Clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and expectations
- Effective listening skills
- Strategic questions that promote thinking
- Data collection and thoughtful feedback
Active listening is an important part of coaching. To be an active listener, remember these tips:
- Be calm and patient.
- Don’t assume you understand what the speaker thinks and feels.
- Ask clarifying questions.
- Summarize or paraphrase what you are hearing.
- Avoid crafting a response while the other person is speaking.
- Don’t try to solve the project leader's problems immediately through giving advice.
Coaching questions are used to help people clarify and develop their thinking. Some examples of helpful coaching questions include:
- What do you hope to accomplish?
- How did it go?
- What happened?
- What did you think?
- What worked?
- How do you know?
- What have you learned so far?
- What would you like to do differently next time?