The process of Coaching bypasses the rational, reasoning and analytical conscious mind. One of the most fundamental premises of coaching is that the answer always lies within the individual; they just might not be aware of it yet. It isn’t so much about the answer itself; it’s the subconscious process and where it takes the participant being coached. The Coaching process cycle can be divided into 4 distinct phases, known as the Learning Cycle. This best describes how learning takes place:
- Unconscious Incompetence (UI) – This is the starting phase for the Coaching Process, where the Client doesn’t know what they don’t know. They are simply not aware that they are not able to do something. (Consider a young child – he or she does not know that they cannot drive a car because they haven’t even considered the process of driving a car.)
- Conscious Incompetence (CI) – This is where the Client is aware of their current inabilities and are aware of their flaws. The Client knows what they don’t know and can recognize their weaknesses. This is key as visibility has been achieved and the foundation is now set for growth. (The young child now realizes that he or she cannot drive a car after watching mom and dad drive.)
- Conscious Competence (CC) – This is where performance begins to improve. The Client has started the process of direct improvement, but it is still very much a conscious activity. The client must think about what they are doing in order to be successful. (The young child has matured into a young adult and passed they DMV driving test, but must concentrate heavily in order to drive the car.)
- Unconscious Competence (UC) – In the final stage, the client doesn’t know what they know. They can now naturally achieve higher levels without having to contemplate issues – everything is performed naturally. (The adult drives home on “autopilot” – making it from the office to home while thinking of the weekend).
The coaching process has the ultimate goal of reaching the Unconscious Competence stage. The key to this outcome is forming strong habits, and a coaching relationship is a powerful way to attain that goal.