Around five months ago, Gurrit Sethi, Head of Operations, Standalone Dialysis Unit, Fortis Healthcare, Delhi, was an ill-tempered single mother struggling to find time to read. Today, with the help of her ‘life coach’, she has chalked out an action plan, setting down her priorities, and now finds time to read at least one book a week. She has even taken steps to improve her relationship with her daughter.
“When Gurrit first came to me, she would talk about how she felt disconnected with the world,” says Sethi’s coach Dr Daljit Singh, President of Strategy and Organisational Development at Fortis. “But now she thinks a world of new possibilities has opened up for her. She has become more open to learning from others around her.”
Sethi is one among many corporate employees who have benefited from executive coaching. Another is Rajiv Arora, Head of Human Resources, or HR, Tata Teleservices.“Coaching saw me through a critical stage of my career,” he says.“The sessions helped me understand myself better. I could take my own decision about whether I was better suited for a business role. or to operate within the HRfaculty.” Arora, who was going through a career crisis about 10 to 12 years ago, chose the latter.
A host of companies such as Mahindra & Mahindra, or M&M, Bharti Airtel, the Tata Group, Ericsson, Vodafone, Aircel, Accenture, Hindustan Unilever and Fortis have begun executive coaching for their employees.“Coaching can help individuals expand their capacity and create the future they desire,” says R. Mahesh Iyer, Vice President, Accenture, and a certified coach.
M&M introduced coaching for select employees in 2004. Initially, only senior-level executives were coached, but over the years the programme has been expanded to include mid- and junior-level personnel as well. At any given period, around 60 to 70 Mahindra executives are undergoing coaching. “We have both external and internal coaches,” says Rajeev Dubey, President, Group HR & Aftermarket Sector, M&M. An external coach charges a corporate client around`6 lakh to `8 lakh for a sixmonth contract.
The need for coaches has in turn produced a new career opportunity, and a host of agencies have sprung up to train aspiring coaches. There are a number of global coaching collectives from which those starting such courses can seek certification, such as the International Coach Federation, or ICF, to which Indian agencies that train coaches usually turn to for certification. Certified coach training programmes can cost anywhere between `1.5 lakh and `3 lakh.“The basic idea of coaching is that an individual already has the solutions to his problems within him,”says Santhosh Babu, Managing Director of Organisation Develop- ment, or OD, Alternatives, a consultancy firm, and a certified coach. “It is the job of the coach to increase the client’s awareness of these problems and solutions by asking him questions.”
Apart from local players, there are some global coach training agencies already in India – such as Results Coaching Systems, Symbiosis Coaching and FranklinCovey – obviously drawn by the country’s potential as an emerging market.
Coaching is also one profession which has turned the gender gap on its head – it boasts more women than men.
Rachana Mukherjee, Head of HR Mobility, Aircel, says it was her own decision to pursue part-time coaching. But her company has supported her efforts. She is allowed to coach internally and have outside clients as well. For Shilpa Singh, a Masters in Psychology with nearly 15 years of HR experience, learning how to coach seemed like the next logical step. She quit her job and founded Metamorphosis Coaching and Consulting, an HR consulting firm. “Coaching is about helping a client bring thoughts and processes that hide in the subconscious to the conscious level,”she says.
So, if you are a compassionate listener and want to help people out with their problems, coaching might be just the thing for you.