” My team needs coaching. How do I go about it? Is there a structured basis for coaching my team. Is there any model you can suggest ?” asked a senior executive the other day.
I told him my take on what makes coaching effective:
- Mutual respect
- Clarity of goals
- Action orientation
- Holding the gains
Without mutual respect, coaching doesn’t work. Period. There should be a clear understanding of the motivations and capabilities of the participant ( I prefer to use “participant” in the coaching process rather than “coachee” etc.) and the coach. Confidentiality is of the essence. Just as you cannot command your team to respect you, in coaching too, respect must be earned based on your competence.
Without goal clarity, we go nowhere. We need to mutually agree upon realistic expectations on what the coaching will achieve. I have found it useful to quickly cover in the conversation what it will not do as well.
Without an action orientation, you will not get the best out of this investment. To me, an action orientation means time-bound actions which the participant commits to achieve. Action orientation moves the coaching from the discussion venue to the workplace. What eventually matters is not what you talk about but what you actually do.
Without holding the gains, we tend to regress back to our old ways and earlier comfort levels. In my experience, holding the gains is key to coaching success. Participants need to incorporate new skills, new techniques that they have gained into their daily repertoire of managerial skills.
Your success as a coach depends on the accuracy of your assessment of the coaching situation. This assessment comes from gathering information. A model that is frequently used in getting information is the GROW model.
In this, questions are sequenced covering:
- Goal: We get the participants to firm up where they want to be, or what they want to achieve. Working together we then define the goals as clearly as possible
- Reality: We check the goals in the backdrop of the prevailing environment. We identify what is going on, what has been tried, what are the possible obstacles to success etc.
- Options: We help participants draw up possible options to achieve the agreed goals. Can these be prioritized, we ask. What has the best chance of success?
- Will: The participant must commit to, and take responsibility for, carrying out the agreed actions. I have found it useful here to get the participant to “visualise” success such that he/she knows the benefits of achieveing the improvement goals.
Coaching is not about merely listening to the participants woes, being encouraging and hoping for the best!
It involves, as I have tried to bring out in simple terms, clear objectives, mutual effort, choosing actions which have the biggest impact on the participant’s performance and practice with feedback.
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Mike Chitty said:
Great post Prem.
I hope I can add something from my experience in training managers to coach.
I think that often there are much more effective and efficient ways to help people learn than coaching and these should always be tried before coaching is used.
I try to get all the managers I work with to coach all team members on goal based coaching contracts all the time! This builds the ability of the team to be way more productive and more efficient. But coaching is only used when other simple techniques like feedback have failed to produce the desired results.
Helping managers to be specific about the behaviours they are trying to develop is always the starting point for me. I ask what kind of things they wish they could develop people on. Typical responses are things like to…’Show more initiative’ or ‘Be more of a team player’ or ‘Be more confident/assertive’ etc.
I then encourage them to think through what specific behaviours they have seen that lead them to think that this is an area that an individual needs to develop? Many managers struggle with this step. They have to spend some time watching people to figure out what it is that they are doing, or not doing, that leads to the diagnosis.
Once they are clear on the behaviours that are to be the focus of development I ask managers whether they have ever given feedback about them to the indiviudal concerned. Usually the answer is no! This is a real missed oppportunity because the simple use of consistent adjusting feedback (by a manager who is good at using both adjusting and affirming feedback) will often get results much more quickly and cost effectively than coaching.
If feedback does not work we then move onto goal based coaching.
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