Coaching: an Effective Methodology for Performance Improvement

by Iris Grimm, The Balanced Physician

Champions get coached. Sports athletes, actors, and high-level executives in the corporate world typically thrive and succeed with a coach by their side. In today’s world, coaching has become a powerful and effective tool in all areas of business.

According to a recent study by the Ken Blanchard Institute, 93% of executives who have worked with a coach report a positive, often life-changing experience. It impacts how they lead. Others see performance changes. In the health care industry, however, coaching is still a fairly undiscovered methodology for performance improvement, particularly for physicians.

What is coaching?
There are a variety of definitions floating around, but the essence of coaching is about creating a committed partnership to accomplish specific results. It activates available resources and opens doors to personal solutions and effective change. Coaching is especially beneficial for someone who:

  • lacks performance;
  • has a problem and doesn’t know what to do about it;
  •  wants to start something newwants to find his / her personal rhythms in order to live a more fulfilling life;
  • wants to accomplish a certain goal;
  • is dedicated to personal and professional growth and looks for outside support to grow even faster;
  • is in the midst of change;

Successful coaching uncovers barriers to high performance by helping the person being coached see different and varied approaches from which they can choose. Coaching is a blend of business, personal development, psychology, spirituality, consulting and transformation. In a world where changes happen so rapidly, coaching is the concept that offers empowering support toward continuous learning and personal flexibility – two necessary instruments to stay competitive.

How might coaching positively impact the health care profession?
Most physicians focus the majority of their time, energy and money on the development and continuation of their clinical skills in order to leverage their career. Many of them fail to realize that clinical skills are only one of three crucial skills that determine their success, performance and fulfillment. Highly developed interpersonal and self-management skills are also essential.

Consequently, many physicians have adopted these skills from observing colleagues, teachers, mentors and parents without objectively questioning whether they are effective or suitable methods. As a result, they often struggle or under-perform when dealing with

  • maintaining valuable staff members;
  • effectively balancing work life with personal life;
  • being an effective leader for patients, staff and community;
  • preventing burnout and overwhelm;
  • maximizing professional effectiveness.

This is why coaching is such an effective and efficient tool for physicians striving to improve performance and results.

What makes coaching so effective?
Coaching focuses on thought processes, habits and actions and is primarily aimed at boosting individual performance. It is also very time efficient; coaching can be done via telephone or in person. The focus is on the present and future and determining appropriate goals. It is assisted self-help; rather than the coach prescribing solutions, the physician voices goals and suggestions first. Other perspectives and recommendations may then be offered by the coach. A coach provides the “outside-in” perspective to help clarify what might need to happen next. When the physician is able to identify the challenge and clearly define their success, the coaching process becomes easy and improvements happen quickly.
Effective coaching can lead to:

  • Smarter decisions. When the objective and direction are clear, decisions come easy. Talking though actions before they are implemented improves the chances for efficiency and success.
  • Clarity on goals and roles. Step back from daily operations to evaluate the current situation and determine a meaningful course of action.
  • Greater amount of ideas and options. Mutual partnership allows ideas and suggestions from both parties, yet sessions are focused completely on the agenda of the person being coached.
  • Increased self-awareness. Enter a safe place to discover strengths, weaknesses, values, needs, behavioral patterns, beliefs and ambitions. Determine where growth is needed and reflect on life experiences, clarify future goals, and plan for continuous development.
  • A happier, more successful and fulfilling life. Coaching opens new opportunities to acknowledge one’s own power and to consciously utilize it.

Helping people achieve bigger, better goals is what coaching is all about. Coaching goes beyond most training, teaching and instruction. A skilled coach helps create an environment where the person being coached can focus on personal and professional development, is motivated and involved, and receives the support needed, making the most of his or her unique abilities. Simply put, coaching is about bringing out the best in people.

Iris Grimm is the creator of the Balanced Physician coaching and training programs designed to improve physicians’ leadership, performance, and work-life balance. She can be reached at 770-428-2334 or at

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