The experience of Muna Abdu Al Safari, Director of Thati Programme, in the human resources and career development sector involved interacting with staff and university graduates. However, it was only after many years at work that she realised she needed to get formal training.
“My challenge was to learn how to communicate effectively with the multi-generation employees at my workplace,” she said, explaining the reason she enrolled in the first Certified Coach programme organised by Sharjah for Capability Development (SCD) – Tatweer, in 2018.
By taking the programme, Al Safari was able to pinpoint what she had been doing wrong. “I realised that I needed to work on managing myself while talking with the employees”. “I tended to assume an employee’s concern and propose solutions right away; which may not necessarily be correct. But now, I am more engaged and concentrate on the issue at hand when I am in a conversation with a staff. This will improve even more as I build my strength by following a co-active coaching style I learnt at the programme, whether communicating with my colleagues or my family.”
Al Safari advised those who enroll in the programme not to miss any of the sessions as each one covered a different set of core competencies, followed by a practical exercise to master it. “You must keep practicing because the more you coach the better you get,” she said.
Wafa Taymour, Chief Operating Officer at Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre, who took the same course is emphatic about what it taught her. She said: “Being qualified to coach doesn’t mean you know more than those you are coaching. Being a coach requires effective listening skills. So, we have to pay full attention to our students to be able to guide them in seeing what they had been missing and rectify the issue.”
Taking the programme helped Taymour perceive things differently. “Not judging or abruptly advising the person in front of you while listening to their problems was too challenging in the beginning,” she said. “However, I was able to master this skill through many practice sessions and exercises the SCD trainer provided.”
For Manal Al Harmoodi, Senior HR Business Partner at Emirates Islamic Bank, taking the Certified Coach programme was a transforming experience. “I did not expect coaching to be like anything like this,” she said. “The programme is focused on transparency, so be prepared to overcome your own fears and weakness, and to share them with others. Unless you face up to your own insecurities, you won’t fully benefit from this programme.”
It helped Al Harmoodi overcome her challenges and ended up being an eye-opener for her. “I learnt that sometimes the real problem can go back to your childhood. I also learnt that talking about the problem, even if it is difficult to, can solve a majority of it. You have to work up the courage to make an action plan for the solution you set your mind to, and keep at it. The programme is really enlightening and can influence lifelong changes.”
Challenging oneself is a large part of what the Certified Coach programme demands of its participants, as Mey Alhajri, Quality & Organizational Planning Manager at Sharjah Airport, discovered.
She said: “I would advise those who take the programme to open their minds and challenge the self-created life paths they have chosen. You sometimes need to do that to succeed. And for that, you have to trust your coach and participate with your teammates.”
Alhajri went the whole nine yards before she felt she could do that. “Being a certified coach, I am now able to work on my weaknesses, and turn them into my strengths.”
The programme also teaches the participants to work as a team. Alya Al Shamsi, Marketing and Corporate Communications Director at Sharjah Airport, who successfully completed the course last year, said: “We learnt that dialogue and discussion are fundamental to success at work and in one’s personal life, and that they contribute significantly to increasing efficiency. They help us come up with the best solutions to challenges and turn them into opportunities.”
She recommended the Certified Coach programme ardently, saying it had “the capacity to radically change one’s professional as well as personal lives, enhance one’s ability to handle challenges and stimulate creativity by combining theoretical training and practical application.”
The second edition of the Certified Coach programme was launched on September 9, 2019 and will run till November 13 over a period of nine days (three days per month). It will train and certify individuals who wish to practise as professional coaches and is the first step in the journey to become a professional coach certified by the International Coach Federation (ICF), the largest and leading global body representing the profession with over 32,000 members worldwide. Last year, 20 professionals were certified after successfully completing the course.