Coaching: Supporting You to Reach your Potential

Written by Dr Amy Birch, Research Staff Development Consultant, CRSD

When I tell people that I’m a coach, most will frown and ask “sports coach?” in an incredulous voice. I try not to take this too personally (don’t I look like someone who spends all their time in a gym?!), and in truth there are many similarities between professional coaching and sports coaching.

In sport, a coach will support individuals to improve their performance to obtain better results. They may provide theories and new exercises for the individual, and push them to reach their best performances, but ultimately, it is the individual who is doing the training. The role of the coach is to offer specific tools for success and support the individual in a way that creates experiential learning.

Professional coaching, or performance coaching as I prefer to call it, works in the same way – except without the 6am training in wet, cold conditions or hours in the gym! Performance coaching takes place as conversations between two people, the coach and coachee (or coachees if teams are being coached). The role of the coach is to create an environment and conversation that benefits the coachee by supporting their learning and progresses them towards their goals.

Why might people want to have coaching?

There are many reasons why people may consider using the services of a coach. The most important reason is to improve their situation and achieve some goals. These goals can come in the form of being more organised and efficient at work, gaining confidence in certain environments/situations, and working with certain people in a more effective way.

As a coach, I believe that everyone has the potential to succeed. My goal is to observe, question, listen, and feedback to the coachee in a way that helps them to see different perspectives, gain clarity on their own abilities (and beliefs about those abilities), and have a greater appreciation of their own circumstances. Most importantly, I provide a space for coachees to have time to think and reflect. This will help them to consider new ways to resolves issues, perform at their best, and achieve their goals more quickly.

As research staff, you may have a clear plan for succeeding and achieving your goals. However, if you are unsure about your direction or goals, coaching can help you to gain some clarity. You may feel that you know what your goals are but there are obstacles in the way of achieving these. Coaching is based on the principle that individuals are ultimately responsible for their lives and achieving their goals. However, it is often difficult to see how to achieve them – coaching can help you take a step back and find the best route to your success.

If you think that you could benefit from coaching, please contact Kay Dorelli at Please note there may be a waiting list to be allocated a coach.