This blog is authored by Makarand Patwardhan
School days connotation
Based on my School day memories, meaning of the word “Coaching” has different connotation in my mind. For the people in my age group, say who have graduated in late seventies or early eighties, they may be able to correlate my thought processes.
During our schooling, there used to be homework assigned, which, in no way comparable with the homework assigned to kids who are currently undergoing schooling. In our days, for most of the students, homework used to be days spill over activities, while for some it used to be a punishment given because of the behavioural observations by the teacher. There used to be parent, teacher meeting, which used to be a rare phenomenon. If a student’s parents were called for a meeting with teacher, it used to be looked from a different perspective. What I mean by different perspective has a correlation to different connotation, which I mentioned in the opening line. The student, who either is not performing in studies as per the expectation of teacher or is having behavioural issues, used to be called for the meeting with teacher along with parents. This meeting usually used to happen on Saturday or if the situation is very grim, then may happen any day of the week. These meetings as per me were the coaching sessions.
If a student is weak in studies, there used to be suggestion for tuition classes, where extra efforts will be taken to bring the student at par with others in class. During our final years of school, we started hearing word “Coaching Classes”, and my memory immediately recalls this, whenever I hear word Coaching. A student who is weak in studies used to be sent for coaching classes.
Another area in which we used to hear the word Coaching was Sports, and as per my understanding, the sports coach used to be the one, who is expert in that particular sport and has spent sufficient period of his life dedicated to that sport
Graduation year’s connotation
As we were graduating, as a student, we were supposed to deliver seminars, as a part of curriculum. For the seminar of 10 minutes, we used to do preparation for months, and our professors used to Guide us on how & what aspects of presentation. Even though, we may be fully prepared from content point of view, the main challenge used to be “presentation “.i.e. standing in front of entire class and speaking on the subject, which requires lot of courage. I have seen, academically top-notch students, doing a disastrous presentation, while a student who was not so bright in academics used to make presentation in very professional manner. Now looking back today, I feel, there was need for coaching, especially during Graduation day’s, which could have addressed the aspirations of the students.
Earning year’s connotation
As we entered the working arena, we started hearing the words like, guiding, supervising, counselling, mentoring, coaching etc. For most of the people, these words were interchangeable. As we progressed in the career path and various learning opportunities were explored, we could differentiate the meaning and purpose of these terminologies.
After looking back at the 34 years of experience, majorly I was either doing guiding, or mentoring for many years and counselling in very rare cases, but none of these interactions as per me, are classifiable as “coaching” per the classic definition.
Connotation while learning “Coaching”
Even today, I have a question in mind about the mental set up of coachee or Client. The coach may be well equipped with the methodology of coaching, but I am not sure whether the client will come with knowledge/understanding, what is really meant by coaching. Whether Client’s real requirement is mentoring, counselling or coaching?
If I think from coach perspective, in my opinion lot of mentoring is required for a new aspiring coach. The most important aspect is de learning. As a habit, whenever anybody approaches with a problem/issue we generally immediately jump to providing solution, or suggesting methodology to resolve the issue. This aspect need to be unlearned, whenever one wears a hat of a coach. If person is going to wear different hats like, mentor, guide, coach etc, then switching of roles should be the focus.
To summarize, the connotation of word Coaching went on changing and is still undergoing change even today. As I am taking first step of learning to become a coach, a different meaning is coming out. During the peer coaching exercises, I am learning during every session, and this learning will continue.
Makarand Patwardhan is a Senior Professional in Supply Chain with various leadership roles in his career span of 35 years. In his current assignment, he is Senior Vice President – Fragrance Operations & Business Solutions with Keva , largest Indian Fragrance, Flavour and Ingredient company.