Untangle and grow

A blog by Alison Maxwell

Friday, 28 June 2013

Signs of burnout in coaches

Like many others in 'helping by talking' professions, coaches are prone to 'burnout'. However, some of the coaches I supervise seem think this is something that their clients will suffer from (which it is), and are unaware of the symptoms in themselves.

I posted a recent blog talking about a general model of burnout - here's what it might look like when applied to coaches:

  • Phase of big illusions - believing that as coach you can change your clients and through them, the world. Coaching becomes a mission.
  • Phase of frustration - placing too high expectations on ourselves and on clients. We start to feel disappointment and frustration with the amount of change that seems to be possible
  • Phase of decreased vitality - client' start to feel like a burden, 'do I really have to talk to them again?'.
  • Phase of apathy - the work with clients starts to lose its meaning, 'what was the point after all?'.

So if we take 'self-as-instrument' seriously, we also have to make sure we do what it takes to look after that instrument. Down time is for coaches as well as their clients. 

Friday, 21 June 2013

'Getting' supervision

I attended the 3rd International coaching supervision conferences at Oxford Brookes University yesterday - and very good it was too. There was a real range of speakers from all over the world, and it struck me  that coaching supervision was now becoming much more of an mainstream activity instead of an peripheral add-on. Coaches now get that having supervision is part of the deal if you expect to practice and there is now much more of a pull for services.

However, I also think there is a way to go to help coaches understand how to use a supervisor effectively - a bit like there is often a journey to help coachees understand how to use a coach. Here I don't think the word 'supervision' helps us - it smacks too much of the autocrat overseeing and inspecting a minion's work. The trouble is nobody seems able to come up with a better word. As Prof Peter Hawkins quipped  - there is a case of champagne waiting for someone who can think of a better descriptor.

Coach supervision is of course, in part about quality control, but it is also about support and development for the coach. Great supervision should be about helping the coach to see more and be able to do more in service of their clients. Now why wouldn't you want that?