Sailors want professional feedback. They want to learn and grow throughout their career. That’s why the Navy is now laying the groundwork to develop and encourage coaching across the service, specifically on the deckplates, weaving it into service culture as another tool in the leadership toolbag.
“We want to improve the quality of feedback that Sailors get,” said MyNavy HR’s Fleet Master Chief Wes Koshoffer. “Coaching is something we can do right now and should be doing constantly.”
The Navy’s own MyNavy Coaching initiative is a Chief of Naval Personnel-led effort to build and sustain a navy-wide coaching culture. Now, thanks to a Department of Defense pilot program, the service will get a jump start on seeding their initial cadre of trained coaches in the fleet.
Twenty-four Sailors are being sought to participate in an upcoming Defense Inter-Service Internal Coaching Training Program, announced in NAVADMIN 213/21 released on Sept. 28.
To apply, officers must be permanent grades of O-3 through O-5, active-duty or in the reserve, Full-Time support, unrestricted line, restricted line or staff corps. Enlisted Sailors must be E-6 or above. In any case, all must have three years remaining on their current term of service.
Volunteers should have self-awareness, good listening skills, respectfulness and trustworthiness. They must show sensitivity and discretion towards the issues of others and routinely express encouragement and optimism regardless of the situation. Also, they must be accountable and hold others to that standard.
Sailors selected will attend a rigorous multi-service, 16-week virtual training program called the Coaching Culture Facilitator Course (CCFC). The training starts Nov. 30 and runs through March 31, 2022.
The goal is to seed the Navy with deckplate savvy coaches who can educate, promote, and foster a coaching culture within the Navy. Coaching will enhance the performance of every Sailor while also raising the level warfighter readiness and lethality.
The Navy doesn’t consider developing a culture of coaching in the service as a “program.” Instead it is an effort to teach coaching techniques throughout the Navy and at every level. Done properly, regular coaching is a tool that helps leaders enhance Sailor performance through personal and professional goal setting and through constant and constructive feedback.
“The research shows us that in any organization, only about 33% of personnel feel ‘engaged,’ and coaching can help increase this,” said LCDR Erica Harris, certified coach and research psychologist at Navy Personnel Command, who is charged with developing this initiative.
Coaching is a communication and leadership skill that improves Sailor engagement by developing coaching partnerships focused on creating success, Harris said.
A coaching partnership is a commitment by the coach and coaching partner who are devoted to a successful relationship. The goals are to facilitate learning, improve performance and move toward desired results. Partnering in coaching creates a level of trust and commitment between the coach and the coaching partner.
In this partnership, the coaching partner is in the driver’s seat. They determine the agenda and provide the content for the conversation. In a coaching partnership, the partner owns their own personal and professional development and commits to being coached and engaged in the process.
The coach provides a framework to guide conversations while supporting the coaching partner’s goals. The coach actively listens, shows empathy, and asks powerful, open-ended questions focused on the “what” and the “how.” The result is new knowledge gained on behalf of the coaching partner while empowering them to achieve their goals.
“Coaching is not mid-term counseling,” Koshoffer said. “Mid-term counseling is tied to performance evaluations. It is indirect feedback and happens only once per evaluation cycle. I would like every leader in the Navy to understand coaching techniques and be able to apply them constantly.”
“All Sailors need counseling, coaching, and mentoring and each is different,” Harris said.
While involved in piloting the MyNavy Coaching initiative in the fleet, Harris said Sailors felt they did not see coaching as something to replace mid-term counseling. Instead, they see it as what to work toward after receiving performance feedback as a way to continue professional development and growth.
“Effective coaching sessions are checking where we are at, setting goals, and determining what are some possible opportunities and paths to get there -- then committing to some kind of course of action to do that with regular follow-ups,” said Koshoffer.
In coaching conversations, Harris said, the coach is not deciding what the topic of conversation is – the coaching partner is. Where the skill comes in is asking them questions and allowing them to come up with their own answers.
“Too often we try to “fix” someone’s problem, issue, or challenge, but in coaching, you’re allowing the coaching partner to come up with the solution.”
Information on the upcoming training can find all the details, requirements and application procedures the NAVADMIN.
As the Navy develops the MyNavy Coaching initiative, Sailors can find more information by emailing MyNavyCoaching@navy.mil or by visiting the Coaching page on the MyNavy HR Webpage at: https://www.mynavyhr.navy.mil/Career-Management/Talent-Management/Coaching.
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