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Title: Coaching for soft-skill development : an action research study with project managers
Author: Thompson, Shirley
ISNI:       0000 0004 8507 9271
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2018
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Inspired by the limited literature regarding the benefits of coaching to the coach and prompted by personal experience as a project manager and coach, this participatory action research study takes the situation of professional project managers, who need soft skills, to explore the usefulness of coaching practice as a development approach. There is confusion around soft skills but coaching uses clearer personal and interpersonal skills, and associates philosophical aims including negotiation of a collaborative relationship. Development of soft skills is similarly unclear though real practice, feedback and reflection are essential components, which are often used in the development of novice coaches. Coaching practice is explored for its relevance to project managers. The action research included typical introductory coach training for managers, then facilitation of six coaching practice sessions with a previously unknown coachee (also a project manager). A pragmatist philosophy supported a focus on the practical learning from this coaching practice. Interviews elicited the soft skills noticed while coaching and then any changed use of soft skills at work. Data analysis used induction to identify project managers’ descriptions of learned and applied soft skills, deduction to group themes according to recognisable soft-skill groupings, and abduction led to a rationale for the application of learned skills. Findings show project managers benefit in respect of skills, personal confidence and can feel more like leaders, which contributes to the limited work on benefits to novice coaches. After coaching practice, project managers aim to support colleagues and to encourage them to contribute more, showing elements of managers’ coaching in the workplace. A general soft-skills framework of personal skills, effective communication and role-related skills is proposed for project managers. Keywords: project managers, soft skills, soft-skills development, benefits of coaching to the coach, managerial coaching, manager as coach.
Supervisor: Cox, Elaine ; Myers, Adrian Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.C.M.) Qualification Level: Doctoral