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Gabriela Narcue started her career with Reading College as head of modern languages before moving into a talent management role. Putting her coaching skills to good use as European Learning and Development Manager with Microchip Technology, Gabriela completed her Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching with the AoEC in 2020.
You have had an interesting career path beginning working life as head of modern languages before moving into talent management at Reading College and then going on to work at Microchip Technology. Who or what introduced you to coaching and led to you signing up for coach training with the AoEC?
Coaching has been growing in me in different forms. As a teacher I had “pastoral” duties which involved supporting learners with their challenges at college. In Microchip, I started to coach employees informally. Although I had taken certifications with other providers, I decided to embark on the diploma because I wanted an ICF recognised qualification, and a programme that would help me deepen my theoretical knowledge of coaching and give me plenty of opportunities for coaching practice and feedback. I found the diploma robust on both fronts.
What were some of the positives and challenges you experienced while doing the diploma?
The opportunity to explore the theory at a deeper level, applying it to coaching conversations, having plenty of practice in each session, getting feedback from experts and colleagues, being coached, watch other people coach, and learn from them as well. This helped me identify and address the gaps I had in my coaching practice, elevating my coaching, integrating the theory, embedding it in my practice and using it to define my coaching model moving forwards
Managing my full-time role with the demands of the programme. But “when there’s a will there’s a way”, so I was ruthless with my time management and proactively blocked time during the week to ensure I could do all the necessary pre-work and make the most of the excellent videos, readings, and resources to maximise my learning.
What is your top advice to others considering coach training?
Decide if coaching is actually what you want to do, or is it something else, such as counselling or mentoring. Look for an ICF accredited qualification as the programme will cover the core skills required to coach and ensure there will be plenty of coaching practice and feedback.
Looking back at doing your diploma, what has been its lasting impact on you as a person and you as a people development professional?
There were plenty of opportunities in the programme to be coached, reflect on who I am, what I want at 45, and what is my purpose. Having the space to reflect was quite powerful. I feel I have become a better coach with more resources and techniques.
As a people development professional, the programme helped me redefine my boundaries in the coaching conversations I have. I wear a lot of hats daily: coach, mentor, trainer. As a result of the diploma, when I coach, I’ve learnt to work with what the person brings to the session, tap into their potential, and help them turn their potential into performance.
Can you tell us more about your personal coaching model and how this has evolved since doing the diploma?
The diploma helped me define my model and I’ve been putting it to the test since last June. My model uses elements of GROWME, Solutions focused, and Gestalt in the way I will approach the conversation.
The To-GROW-ME element gives the client a clear beginning (contracting, identify topic and goal), middle (explore reality, raise awareness, explore options) and End: responsibility (commitment to taking action), and ME- monitoring and evaluating during the coaching project or sessions.
The value of the Solutions-focused approach invites the coachee to think in a solutions-oriented way and explore through insightful and forward-moving questions what they can and will do, leading to positive change.
As part of the Beginning, establishing the platform, fine-tuning the goal of the session, benefits of moving forward. During the Middle, facilitating awareness, working in the in-between, the interaction between coach and client, what is there: all the resources that the coachee can tap into will lead to the solution or way forward. As for the end, as in GROW, identifying and committing to small actions to make progress.
As regards the Gestalt elements: exploring what is going on both cognitively and emotionally, not only for the coachee, but also for me as the coach. Also working with what is, in the here and now, not what should be, engaging with what is happening, and responding to what I see, hear, sense, and feel, create awareness of the possible choices the coachee has, and help the client take responsibility and ownership for the decisions they make.
How are you using your coaching skills in your current role of European Learning and Development manager at Microchip Technology?
The programme helped me design a regional coaching programme for managers to increase the impact of the conversations they have and develop employees’ talent through coaching. I am helping them move from the “mentor”, “expert” role to the empowering coach who is there to ask the right questions and tap into employees’ potential, unleash their capabilities, and increase their performance. I enjoy seeing the transformation: from having great answers to asking great questions that help employees realise their potential and turn it into performance.
What are some of the issues and opportunities you coach around?
Some common issues include time management, working on the transition to a leadership role, learning to let go and trusting the team, career paths: aligning personal and professional development, effectively managing emotional responses, and team specific topics related such as bridging intercultural gaps, enhancing communication, and increasing understanding while working globally.
How are you measuring the effectiveness of the coaching within your organisation?
In the leadership development programme we have, coachees complete surveys that assess the value of the coaching received and the impact on their leadership development. We also measure coaching effectiveness through 360s, and by looking at employee satisfaction surveys.
Whilst respecting confidentiality, can you tell us about a coaching situation that has had an impact on you?
Once I was working with a manager who had an underperforming employee. She wanted to find a way to deal with it. However, session after session I could notice that even though she was coming up with ideas to overcome this problem, the actions she’d committed to wouldn’t materialise.
I shared my observations and perceptions with her. Focusing so much on how to achieve the goal wasn’t working; something deeper was happening and needed attention. This led us to “reroute” and explore the space where she was, in which she was feeling somewhat stuck and anxious. Walking that space, verbalising what was happening within herself, helped her built up the strength to move forwards. Sometimes we focus too much on the concrete action or the future step to take, neglecting what is happening within. This experience taught me how important it is to work from the inside out.
How have you seen the need for coaching change as we have gone through the coronavirus pandemic?
I noticed that during the pandemic some of the business topics moved to one side and gave way to more personal topics around facing disruption by working from home, loneliness, anxiety, and mental health.
Coaching continues to provide a much needed a space to consider the new ways in which we’ll work post-Covid while staying agile, working with and through the clouds of uncertainty that are still lingering.
What do you find most rewarding about your work as a coach?
I enjoy the shift that takes place from the beginning of the conversation to the end, the discovery, the increased awareness, and realisations that emerge when coach and coachee connect through the conversation, embarking on a curious, exploratory journey.
Our deepest thanks to Gabriela for sharing her experience of coach training with the AoEC.
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