The Seafood Market—Caveat Emptor—Buyer Beware

This metaphor is useful for acknowledging the dynamics of a ‘market place’. Pedrosa-Guitierrez and Hernandez (2017) conducted research into the activities of a seafood/fish market in central Mexico. They concluded that there were some interacting factors that allowed the fish market to prosper.

[The market’s] responses to fish market dynamics [which resulted in the market] organizing a complex network of buyers and suppliers whose relationships can be explained in the form of strong and weak ties. At the same time, reputation has been the central resource to build this social capital and also gives place to market transactions.

Our PPs identified that not knowing who to buy from in a crowded market may create the demand to buy on reputation and familiarity; the

The Global Business of Coaching 75 customer therefore will mainly buy on references from trusted professionals in the buyers network. However, in the case of commercial procurement the process adds a degree of scrutiny and possible protection from criticism, rather than through a relational process that places the emphasis on knowing whom you are buying from. In the Mexican example (Pedrosa-Guitierrez and Hernandez, 2017), the networks of buyers and sellers are created over time, some strong relationships and some weaker ones, that come together in a dynamic system to develop the social capital creating whole market transactions. As another of our PPS describes,

‘The seafood metaphor is an example of market development—first, people sell sea fishes. Then they extend into other sea creatures like shell, shrimp ... etc., and then even to fresh water creatures. Just like in the coaching market, what ‘coaching’ means become wider and wider . . . Thus potentially confusing to the practitioners, users and buyers. The buyer, in the coaching market is placed in a difficult position. Making choices about individual contributors to the coaching system based on reputation, appearance, and the stories being told about their success.’

The risk in buying fish when you do not know the market very well and do not necessarily trust the stallholders is considerable. You may get poisoned. In coaching you might not know if the client will benefit or not, whether they will be ‘poisoned’ or nourished by the process. It is difficult to ascertain the health and benefits of a particular coach’s approach, style, or embedded suggestions through talking to them. Resolving the issue of performance is the priority, not necessarily the outcome in terms of individual responsibility, autonomy, or dependence (Heron 1989: 149-166). The point about the health and freshness of the fish, or the freshness of the coaching process, is one that is not necessarily written about in any detail. In our research for this book, we have not found any references to the health and wellbeing of the practitioner as being paramount in the choice of a coach. An extensive internet search of Google Scholar did not reveal any articles or books that discuss the health and wellbeing of the coach and the importance of the coach having regular supervision. However, Clutterbuck, Whitaker and Lucas (2016: 7-9) discuss the purpose of supervision and include the idea of supervision being ‘restorative.’ They continue with the point that,

‘[there might be an assumption] that the need for “restorative work in general might be less as . . . the coaching work will be less emotionally laden . . . [however] it is . . . likely that some of our clients issues will resonate with our own experiences. On occasion, these similarities may provoke some unfinished business . . . and also the need for restorative work remains important.

If the coach is not in supervision it might be less likely that they will notice when the overlap of the client’s internal processes interrupts and triggers them. This is not necessarily accurate as some coaches we interacted with during the research for our book did recognise the need for supervision or deep discussions with fellow coaches when they felt something was not right with their practice. However, they did not receive regular supervision. We consider that the health and wellbeing of the coach is important as they interact with and develop their clients. Clutterbuck, et al. (2016) identify the possibilities for coaches to be stimulated by their clients emotional and professional journey, and therefore a potential need for coaches to seriously consider their requirements of and for supervision.

 
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