Den eksterne coach

Studenteropgave: Speciale (inkl. HD afgangsprojekt)

  • Marie Isolde Müller
4. semester, Psykologi, Kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
After experiencing a conflict of interest between the employee and the sponsor during a session of external coaching, I became curious of what guidelines and ethical principles are recommended to handle these kind of situations. While analysing the relevant literature, I identified a significant lack of research about the external coaches handling of conflicts of interests and organizational coaching, which led me to ask the following question: How does the external coach handle potential conflicts of interest between the sponsors and employees?

To reply the question, a qualitative research was conducted, in which four external coaches were interviewed. The interviewees are all active as organisational coaches while their current situation differed, e.g. two of them are psychologists.

The interviews appeared to present various answers to the subject, mediated through contradictory language, and therefore two analyses were conducted separately of each other: a discourse analysis and an IPA.
In the meaning analysis, IPA, all knowledge is put aside in order to insure the necessary space for the external coach’s stories to unfold. Through this analysis especially the relationship of the external coaches with the involved parties (sponsor and employee) appeared as a central topic across all four interviews. The focus on the relations and alliances remained the thread throughout the analysis, which was structured following the steps in the coaching process. Each step is supplemented with the adequate literature, which helped bringing forward the great complexity of the field, as there were not two external coaches handling it the same way. In general there appeared two categories regarding the conflicts of interests in the triangular relationship between coach, sponsor and coachee.
One covered situations where the coachee changes the topic unrelated to the sponsors’ wishes for the coaching e.g. private issues. In this case it seemed that the coach across all four interviews would correct or mirror the coachee back to the sponsors wish for the coaching.
In second case, the client changed the topic into a direct complaint/criticism of the sponsor. In this case, the coach seemed to be putting the sponsors agenda for the coaching aside, and instead give the time and space for the coachee to explore his issues. Through the IPA, the main question of the research could be answered with a rich complexity of approaches.
The IPA analysis left me with the question of what activated the different alliances between coach, sponsor and employee to occur in organizational coaching? And what was ‘behind’ their very contradictionary stories in the interviews?
To capture some perspectives on these questions a discourse psychological analysis was conducted. Across the four interviews, three discourses appeared to be shifting and dominating the external coaches management of organizational coaching.
Unfolding these, the “neutrality discourse” seemed to originate from the systemic therapeutic approach, where being able to shift position and keeping an object-subject position was considered as the most effective intervention. The concept of being neutral, considered within organizations today, can result in a concentration of the power relations in e.g. the external coaching relationship. Michel Foucault’s concept of power and “objectivity”, showed how the external coaches desire to be neutral as a way of being professional, left a lot of pressure on the coachee. Thereby they were not neutral anymore, but could be viewed as an extension of the sponsor.
The “discourse of being a good worker” was analysed through Richard Sennett’s perspective, which seemed to have two sides. In the external coach, it seemed to be a “left over” from the old ideal of a worker, who was stable and loyal, which seems to conflict with the new ideal for the good worker; being flexible and superficial. Both parts were reflected in the external coaches interview, which seemed to leave them in a stressful situation of wanting to be good and stable in solving the task, but in a context of floating and instability. The pressure from the society of the coach being flexible can serve as an explanation to why there are no guidelines today, as it does not correlate with the way the society works – no defined tasks are alike.
The last “helping discourse” consisted of the classical founding stones of the helping relation. This originated back to the human need of close relations. This was supplemented with Carl Rogers’s concepts of empathy and unconditional positive regard and other research on which characteristics are the most efficient in the helping relationship. Furthermore, the coach’s help to the coachee could be interpreted as mercy and a reaction of “loving your next”.
To sum up, these three discourses existing in the external coaches work, due to their differences, together create a tension in which the external coach has to navigate and balance, in order to please both the sponsor’s, coachee’s and the external coaches own interests.

The two analyses, though they are different methods, helped painting a full picture as a response to my initial question. Not only does they present different ways of handling coaching, but they as well provide some advices for “best practices”. But besides the “practical” angle to the question, a theoretical view upon which are the driving forces the external coach are intervening with and what can be the reasons for not having clear guidelines on the subject was presented.
Moreover, was considered whether this common picture makes “sense” looking at, as it was drawn with two different methods and thereby philosophical standpoints. After a comparison of phenomenology and social constructism, the two analysises had very different views upon what can be considered as knowledge and how it is achieved. But as they were kept separated, as two different parallel legs throughout the whole process, both of their results were validated ensuring the quality.
Thus all together they complimented each others flaws, so the full picture contains both the depth of each interviewee meaning of external coaching and as well contextual, historical and social perspectives. Therefore, the research leaves the before empty gap of knowledge with a variation of colours, as the first seeds in the field in which many more questions are already growing and awaiting to be harvested.
Udgivelsesdato31 maj 2013
Antal sider112
ID: 76961521