istock_000000796578xsmallp.JPGWe’ve had a few calls for coaching recently. Have you noticed how coaching’s never really gone away? It’s somehow managed to survive being relegated as a ‘fad’ when ‘Life Coaches’ became popular. So why is that?

Well perhaps it’s because coaching seems to have been around in some form since before time itself…well not really, but it’s definitely been around for a while. According to Performance Coaching Int’l we can trace the roots of coaching right from days of yore when the more experienced and skilled elders would teach the young how to hunt, cook, paint pictures on cave walls and to contribute effectively to their communities in general.

Fast-forward a few hundred centuries and Performance Coaching Int’l attribute a noticeable increase in interest in coaching, to the transition of society from a collective to an ‘individual’ focus. This aligns with the changes in development –interventions which moved from the sheep-dip approach, prevalent in the 1990’s, to tailored and individualized solutions that are common today.

A major breakthrough in coaching came in the guise of the published work of a former motor racing champion, Sir John Whitmore. His publication ‘Coaching for Performance’ (2002) gave the world the now famous GROW model (Goal, Reality, Options, Will). His simple approach helped to open the floodgates for what has become a billion dollar industry in both the US and UK markets.

Over the last 15 years numerous other coaching approaches have emerged with some attempting to make it more ‘sophisticated’, and in our opinion overcomplicating it! Whichever approach you favour the underlying ethos remains the same. Coaching is essentially:

an intuitive developmental tool that facilitates the individual arriving at their own solution with learning being the ultimate outcome’.
(Monique Straughan & Felicia Linch 2008)

“But” we hear you say – “this doesn’t fit our definition of a coach”. Perhaps you are more familiar with the ‘sports coach’ who gives more instruction and there is less input from the individual, or the ‘mentor’. These classifications are used interchangeably at times and often without being defined so instead of bringing clarity to the Coaching debate they muddy the waters. So we have designed a useful model which is our attempt at distinguishing and understanding these different classifications, and the respective value of each:


The Listener: this is where instruction from the manager is low and input from the employee is low. This could be considered the most ineffectual of all the classifications as basically the employee is given the opportunity to vent but no problem solving/guidance is forthcoming.

The Sports Coach: this is where there is high instruction from the manager and low input from the employee. This relationship may be of value but we suggest is more suited to employees with limited/no work experience, or in a non-work environment such as youth clubs, educational institutions.

The Mentor: this is where there is high instruction from the manager, but also high in put from the employee. This relationship also has some value and may be the initial stages of a ‘Coaching’ relationship as the employee gains confidence and realises that they have the answers within them. Another distinguishing factor with a mentor is that their scope often extends beyond job-development and therefore it is recommended that a mentor be someone other than the direct line manager.

The Coach: this is where there is low instruction from the manager, and high input from the employee. Here the coach questions and challenges, rather than ‘tells’ the employee what to do. We believe the learning is much more effective when the employee has arrived at the answer themselves verses having it handed to them, not to mention the fact that if it all goes horribly wrong the employee has to take some responsibility rather than just pointing the finger at the coach!

So there you have it – Coaching and the classifications defined. Next week we take a look at the basic coaching process, and more importantly the value, or not, that it delivers to businesses.


Blended Learning

classroom-adults.jpgThis is Alia Vaz-Heaven’s first post on CaribHRForum.

Learning is a part of daily living; it may take place unconsciously or in a structured mode. According to Smith and Ragan (1999), learning is a relatively permanent change in a person’s behaviour due to experience based on the duration of change, the locus of the change, and the cause of the change. For learning to occur within individuals in a corporate context, HR Professionals need to use the best learning approach to engender the pervasiveness of knowledge within the organization. One unique approach to learning is blended learning. It is unique because it taps the reservoirs of different learning approaches, such as classroom-only learning and e-learning, in an effort to offer the best approach to learning.

There are several alternative names for blended learning such as integrated learning, balanced learning, hybrid learning, magic-in-a-mix, the perfect solution, and the best of both worlds. It is clear from these alternative names and even the word “blended” that blended learning seeks to put an end to the divide between traditional and online instruction, promising the best of both worlds by offering some of the conveniences of online courses without the complete loss of face-to-face contact.

So, is blending different learning modalities more effective for human resource training and development than the traditional approach to learning? Some companies are using a 50-50 combination of classroom-only and e-learning to form blended learning, while others are trying to move all learning out of the classroom and into the digital world. Either strategy moves away from having a classroom-only approach.

While face-to-face classes allow for interaction, it is done in a constrained synchronous mode where the instructor and a few participants often dominate the opportunity to interact. With its varied delivery options, blended learning takes interaction beyond the classroom and allows those who were limited in the classroom to obtain yet another opportunity to get knowledge from other subject-matter experts, such as supervisors, managers, or assigned mentors.

HR Professionals must remember that varied options do not mean blended. Instead learning becomes truly blended when a learner embraces the availability of these options, such as breaking away from the traditional views of learning (thinking that learning can only happen in a classroom setting) to see learning as a perpetual process, unbounded by the walls of a classroom environment.

When this mental paradigm shift takes places within learners then they will find it easier to solicit knowledge from peers, mentors, or experts, where they see this strategy as a continuing learning process solidifying or expounding on what has been taught in the classroom or through other learning options.


Caribbean Executive Salary Survey

This is very valuable information, taken straight from the newspapers this week in Jamaica.

See the PWC website for more details. Click on the graphic below to see the details.



Balanced Scorecard Implementation

balancedscorecard.gif This is Denise Ali’s first post on CaribHRForum.

This article seeks to document and share my experience and knowledge with designing and implementing scorecard systems in organisations.

The first order of business before embarking on a scorecard implementation is to conduct a thorough literature review regardless of how much you think you know about the BSC.

The literature review will inform or validate the choice to implement the BSC. The organisation should be very clear on if they are using the BSC as performance management tool or as a strategic management tool and they must understand the difference and its implications.

The BSC implementation is not the whole responsibility of the Human Resource department. One organisation actually placed this responsibility initially within HR and the results were disastrous especially since the entire leadership team were not in full support of the BSC. An Executive Sponsor should be appointed to drive the implementation. Many case studies cited the formation of a steering committee as being very helpful to dislodge obstacles and to drive acceptance and buy-in.

Continue reading “Balanced Scorecard Implementation”

Employee Engagement … A Moving Target

istock_000000340142xsmall.jpgWelcome to the first of 12 weeks of blurb from the desk of Monique and Felicia. We’d firstly like to thank Francis for giving us the opportunity to contribute to this blog and we shall certainly do our best to keep the topics provocative and interesting ‘a la’ the brief we’ve been provided!

This week we decided to look at that area of Human Resources that has become a hot topic on the lips of many …..Employee Engagement.

What is employee engagement? Is it another fad? Is it the perfect marriage between employer and employee?

As with many other areas within our field, mention employee engagement to the average worker and you will see a blank face, eyes glazing over, a shift to the left then right and well….you know the rest.

So we take a stab at defining employee engagement so that at a minimum we provide you with our frame of reference. But why reinvent the wheel, we liked the definition provided by the customer experience consultants McDaniels and Partners. You make up your own mind:

Employee engagement:

is commitment to the organization; job ownership and pride; passion and excitement; and commitment to execution and the bottom line”.


Sounds simple enough but is in fact easier said than done, let’s break it down, there seems to be 4 key themes here:
Continue reading “Employee Engagement … A Moving Target”

Escaping the Cubicle

cubicles.jpgI have this conversation frequently with HR professionals — it starts with them saying “I’d love to go out on my own.”

I tend to encourage the thought, and I also sometimes remember to refer them to an excellent blog that focuses on making the transition from cubicle-dweller to entrepreneur.

I made the transition 15 years ago and while it hasn’t been easy, it has been tremendously rewarding. This blog focuses best on the parts of the journey that I have found to be the most challenging.

Click here to be taken to the blog — “Escape from Cubicle Nation.”