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Coaches Role in Organizations

Updated February 28, 2012

Who are person centered thinking coaches?
Person centered thinking coaches are people who have been selected by their organization to

  • Lead the implementation of person centered thinking skills –
    • Demonstrate how the person centered thinking skills work and
    • Support the skills in becoming habit
  • Make changes that improve quality of life for those who use the services and those who provide the services –
    • Make the changes that can be made without permission or altering policies, procedures, or structures (level 1)
    • Identify those changes that need to be made but require permission or a change in policies, procedures, or structures (level 2)
  • Support the development of a positive organizational culture characterized by -
    • Partnership
    • Learning
    • Accountability
  • Learn what is working within the organization, needs to stay the same and be celebrated; and what is not working and needs to change.

Who should be in the first group to be selected to be person centered thinking coaches?
Person centered thinking coaches have a central role in going from training that has a limited impact to skills that are embedded in day to day practice. Selecting the right people and then supporting them in their work is crucial.  These efforts must start with success.  Begin with a small group who have –

  • Gift
  • Passion
  • Opportunity

The first group of coaches should be people who have a gift for the work.  Look for the “naturals”, people did very well in the person centered thinking skill training. Look for those who can see how they can use the skills.  When we say they need passion we mean that they see the connection between the skills and improving people’s lives and they find it doable and exciting.  They should have ordinary opportunities to use the skills. They should be able to see this as a way of making positive changes in people’s lives by changing how they do their work; they should see this as a real example of the cliché work smarter, not harder.  They need to be people whose day to day responsibilities include opportunities to use the skills. These people will be found among front line managers, interested professionals, and those who do support coordination/care management.

What about senior/middle managers and direct support professionals as coaches?
Having a few middle and/or senior managers serve as coaches is a good idea.  But only a few middle/senior managers should be among the first group of coaches.  The majority of the coaches should be people who have day to day contact with the people who use services.  On the other hand we do not recommend the selection of direct support professionals as coaches.  Experience has shown that they may find themselves in an awkward position when coaching their peers.  Direct support professionals who have management responsibilities work well as coaches.


Coaches need regular, ongoing support.
There needs to be a coaches support group that meets regularly where coaches -

  • Share what they are learning and trying
  • Share and report on what is working and not working in their efforts
  • Have opportunities to learn and practice skills
  • Learn from and support each other
  • Have opportunities for renewal

No isolated coaches.

When the first coaches begin their work it will feel awkward.  Most people need support as they build confidence and competence. 

  • Make sure that there are some people who came to the person centered thinking skills training who will be among those that are coached. 
  • Make sure that there will be other coaches that they will have contact with in the course of their day to day work.
  • The first group of coaches needs located in the areas where successful change should be easiest.

Coaches need to be comfortable with using the skills before helping others learn the skills.

Expectations for the spreading the use of the skills need to take into account the need for each coach to become competent and confident in skill use before asking them to “coach” the skill.  Coaches need safe places to learn and practice skills that they are not comfortable or confident in.  This is one of the functions of the coaches support group.

The number of coaches should grow over time.
Eventually you want all front line managers, all clinicians, all support coordinators/care managers, and all professionals to see being a person centered thinking coach as a part of their role, their every day work.  It also means that those who are leading this effort have to plan for the expansion of the coaches group over time.

Coaches make level 1 changes, but not level 2 changes.
It is important to remember that coaches can and will make level 1 changes, but once all of the available level 1 changes are made senior managers have to make the level 2 changes that create the next generation of opportunities for change from coaches. Structured ways for senior managers to hear the learning from coaches increases the likelihood that level 2 changes will be made.