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ATD Blog

Coaching Is a Vital Capability for TD Professionals

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Coaching is one of the 23 professional capabilities in the Talent Development Capability Model, which encapsulate personal, professional, and organizational domains. Coaching falls into the Developing Professional Capability domain.

According to the model, “coaching is a development process where an experienced person, called a coach, offers guidance and advice to a learner or group, called the client(s).” It involves a close relationship between coach and client—one that “inspires and motivates them to set higher goals and to make remarkable improvements in their personal and professional lives.”

“Coaching can take many forms in the workplace, whether focusing on leadership or executive development, skill building (especially as reinforcement of formal learning), career development, performance improvement, or team goal achievement,” explains Lisa Downs, CPTD, president of New Aspect Coaching.

In addition to the multitude of ways coaching can be used, “it can be conducted one-on-one, with intact teams or with peer employee affinity groups, for example. It’s an excellent accountability mechanism because it helps an individual employee stay on track with progress and helps the organization through achievement of targeted goals since, at its core, it’s about forward movement from a current to an ideal future state,” notes Downs.

Six Steps

While many coaching models exist, they follow similar steps that begin with clarifying an agreement and continue with creating a working partnership. The next step involves collecting and analyzing data to assess the needs and situation, after which the coach and client construct a development plan that includes setting goals.

The process is iterative, with the client gaining skills and, along with the coach, identifying new development challenges and amending the development plan. Once the client and coach agree that the goal(s) has been met, the formal coaching relationship concludes. Because of the close and supportive relationship between the two, this milestone should be celebrated.

Coaching is not mentoring nor is it training or giving advice.


Coaching’s Importance

According to the Institute of Coaching at McLean, a Harvard Medical School Affiliate, coaching in organizations encourages employees to take responsibility, increases engagement, improves individual performance, and helps identify and develop high-potential employees, among other benefits.

In “COVID-19 Leaders Need Coaching Now More Than Ever,” Laura L. Hauser asks, “How can people in organizations, especially teams, still do the work considered essential to meeting company goals that were set before COVID-19 and that are still likely important to the long-term strategy of the organization?” Coaches can provide support and guidance at this time by lending perspective.

Indeed, the description of the coaching capability in the Capability Model outlines how coaches can help through asking stimulating questions, helping the client develop an action plan, offering tools to improve the client’s self-awareness, and encouraging the client. These actions are critical in today’s environment and aren’t likely to go away any time soon since we expect the pace of change to increase in the future.

Downs continues, “The coaching capability is important because of its adaptability to learners’ (coachees’) individual needs; its ease of use in virtual environments, including currently with the coronavirus situation; and its effectiveness in getting results and improving performance, with its focus on goal achievement and personal and professional growth.”

Coaching Capabilities

To make such an impact on individuals, teams, and the organization, what do talent development professionals need to be able to do well as coaches?


According to the Talent Development Capability Model, a TD professional needs to be knowledgeable of:

  • Organizational coaching models
  • Methods and techniques to evaluate the effectiveness of coaching
  • Professional standards and ethical guidelines for coaching

Further, the TD professional must be skilled in:

  • Helping individuals or teams identify goals, develop realistic action plans, seek development opportunities, and monitor progress and accountability
  • Coaching supervisors and managers on methods for supporting employee development
  • Creating effective coaching agreements
  • Establishing an environment that fosters respect and trust with coaching clients
  • Recruiting, training, and pairing coaches with employees

The Future Is Now

The International Coaching Federation notes that “Studies show that 77 percent of human resource professionals observe that they have to battle with change constantly.” This is true with the world dealing with the many repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Because humans are naturally resistant to change, this can be a harrowing exercise,” continues ICF. “Creating a coaching culture in your organization can help your company to easily navigate the murky waters of change management.”

With the Capability Model focusing on what the future of work and organizations will be, Morgean Hirt, director of ATD Credentialing, writes in her TD article “Competency Out, Capability In,” that “capability is about integrating knowledge and skills and adapting and flexing to meet future needs. By shifting from a competency model to a capability model, ATD is helping TD professionals put their knowledge and skills to work to create, innovate, lead, manage change, and demonstrate impact.”

It’s a theme that Downs echoes: “In looking to the future, and with so much uncertainty now in how workplaces look and function going forward, coaching is an ideal solution to address the talent development needs of both the organization and its employees, whether in one-on-one or group contexts.”

About the Author

Patty Gaul is a senior writer/editor for the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

1 Comment
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I like that this article emphasizes that coaching is NOT training, mentoring nor is it giving advice. It is its own category.
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