• It’s coaching, but not as you know it.

    It’s coaching, but not as you know it.

    Posted 26/04/2013 By in MANAGEMENT With | No Comments

    I’ve been delivering coaching services in a variety of forms for the past 7 or 8 years and I’ve got a dirty little secret.

    CoachingMy first foray into coaching was the (then) newly emerging Life Coaching arena.  I was taught good process and met some fantastic people.  After my first few attempts at ‘Life Coaching’ some clients I started to wonder whether it was really that effective.  Well, truthfully I actually doubted my own effectiveness.  I wasn’t getting great results and the process seemed to fizzle out and die.  During this stage I was scouting around for a theme or focus for my business.  It started off as PDP+  (personal development planning and more).  It quickly morphed into Blaze Unlimited and I started to drift back towards my professional orientations (human resource management, culture, leadership and learning).  I was offering career coaching services to individuals and organisations and I was no longer either offering or pursuing life coaching.  During this time I had a dirty little secret.  I was calling my process coaching, but it wasn’t really.  After several years working in the career coaching space and taking on facilitation and coaching roles in the public sector and some private industry a new theme emerged for me.  That of employee engagement.  If you’ve known me for a while this will be no surprise.  I truly believe that our definition and experience of work in the 21st century and beyond needs to shift gears and go up a level (or two).  Engaged workers are the future for our organisations, communities and us.  As you know, I’m very interested in managers.  They have a tremendous opportunity to have an impact (both positive and negative) on the engagement of the people they lead.  They’re also a vulnerable group of employees who often need support they can’t (or don’t) ask for, who work very hard for often little reward and whom also deserve to be engaged by their work.

    Leadership and Executive coaching is nothing new.  It’s been around and very successful for a number of years.  I’ve been delivering coaching programs to managers at the team leader, supervisor and mid-level managers and have been calling it, naturally enough, Management Coaching.  Again, during this time I’ve been harbouring a dirty little secret.  Traditional coaching, irrespective of the model/s you use tends to share a few points in common.

    1. The coach does not provide advice.
    2. The coach is not a subject matter expert.
    3. The process assumes the client has the capacity to resolve their own problems.

    My dirty little secret is that in the space I’ve been working in (both as a HR Professional and in my own business) for the past 17 odd years is that the managers I work with often want advice and at the time I meet with them, don’t have the capacity to resolve the problems and I am working specifically in an area I which I have (some) expertise.  I’ve struggled with this duplicity  - calling it coaching but wading in and offering advice and solutions for years but recently I’ve had an epiphany and I’m now resolved to be clearer in what it is that I offer and not shy away from the fact that in some cases (many in fact) what I do with or for the managers I work with is actually more effective than a traditional coaching model.  I’ve started to think about my coaching approach as more like a sports coach.  A tennis coach does not say to their star athlete “What do you think?”  Well at least that’s not all they say.  They offer feedback “your backhand is loose”, they offer advice “lift your elbow higher on your serve”, they offer different approaches “perhaps try a two handed backhand in that situation for more power” and they help the athlete to carry out their tasks “how are you going with your food plan we discussed?”.  There’s a lot more that goes on but that serves to highlight the fundamental differences between coaching styles.  Both are effective, both have their place and one size does NOT fit all.  In situations where the client KNOWS what they need to do but are not doing it, a more traditional coaching model would serve well.

    So in essence, what I do is a blend between coaching and training.  It’s 1 on 1 (can be group) and I support the client to make their own decisions and to take responsibility for their situation but I will diagnose, analyse, offers models, theories, frameworks and processes for the client to assimilate and apply.  The space that I ‘coach’ in happens to be management development.  I help Managers to be more effective and successful at what they do.  This is what I do.

    Meet with client in open inquiry – what’s going on for you, what do you want?

    Listen – reflective, active listening

    Question – probing, challenging, committing

    Discuss – offer my perspective of the situation they’re dealing with

    Offer/Share – models, theories, frameworks, tools, processes

    Listen – how can they apply this to their situation?

    Question – what will you do with this?  Commit to action.

    Follow Up –  at subsequent sessions I check in.  Did you do it?  How did it go?  What worked?  What didn’t?  What can you do differently next time?

    Woven in among that are all sorts of counselling and coaching models.  I can (and do) use GROW, Skilled Helper, Solution Focused Counselling, CBT to name but a few.

    The area in which I’m most interested and most effective is in developing leadership and management skills.  The model of leadership I am most connected to is Transformational Leadership (more to come on this shortly).  One of the key outcomes I drive for with my clients is engagement…. Engaged teams + engaged managers = successful organisations.

    So, if you’re grappling with your transition into a management role, have team or individual performance or behavioural issues to deal with, want to improve engagement, or get more out of your management career AND want to be shown a range of options that work rather than having to figure it all out yourself.  Perhaps my blended approach to coaching may just be the ticket?  You can have a look at my latest coaching program here.

    Please help me to spread the word by sharing.

      Sean is an experienced coach, speaker and facilitator who is passionate about improving the relationship between people, their work and the organisations they work for. If you want to get the most out of your managers, supervisors and their teams and think that work can or should be a rewarding and enjoyable component of a productive and meaningful life it might be worth a chat.

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