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Coaching to the power of two

Business coaching is a solution many organisations have turned to when trying to improve the way staff work and the effectiveness of the business. Traditionally, the focus has been on one-to-one sessions, with a coach dealing with a client. But now dual coaching is emerging as a productive and cost-effective alternative.

Dual coaching brings two people who work together into a joint coaching session. The aim is to create a more dynamic and successful business relationship. The process provides greater clarity and a shared, solid understanding of direction and priorities. Ideally, staff will leave the session with greater awareness and knowledge of how to implement new behaviour and actions to better serve the business – and each other.

The one-to-one coaching model means a client can only act on insights gained once they have left the session. With dual coaching, the creative problem solving starts immediately, which means the session starts to become effective almost immediately.

The approach was first used in the NHS to enable health trust leaders to resolve difficulties that remained unaired at board level. Its benefits included creating more effective working relationships faster.

Since then dual coaching has been used with joint business partners, project leaders from different departments and senior managers who job share.

Research indicates that it works well with line managers and direct reports as well as staff at a similar level in their organisation. Each dual coaching situation is, of course, unique depending on the issues involved. Yet common challenges arise. The following situations illustrate where the approach has worked well.

Influencing upwards

This is an extract from the Finance & Management Magazine, Issue 196, February 2012.

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