Category: Coaching

Teams in Transition?

Tree in transition

One of the real pleasures of my work as a team coach and facilitator has been supporting teams to get back in the room together, face to face over the last few months, after in many cases well over a year of staring at each other through a computer screen.  Teams are rediscovering the joys of connecting, having informal conversations over a coffee, and allowing themselves time to ‘be’ rather than constantly ‘do’. Conversations are deeper and more insightful, and solutions to sticky issues are more easily found.

One issue that comes up repeatedly in the teams I am working with, is the issue of transition.  Teams that have formed during the pandemic are now finding that Tuckman’s observation of storming before you can get to norming is very real, and team leaders are facing ambiguity about roles, responsibilities and expectations, structural reorganisations, and the challenges of a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world.

Organisational Health has been defined as the ability of organisations to align, execute, and renew themselves faster than their competitors can to sustain exceptional performance over time.  To sustain high performance, organisations must build the capacity to learn and keep changing and this involves investment in the people-oriented aspects of leading an organisation and connecting them to performance. It comprises core organisational skills and capabilities, such as leadership, coordination, or external orientation that traditional metrics don’t often capture.

Patrick Lencioni, in his excellent book “The Advantage: Why Organisational Health trumps everything else in business” (John Wiley & Sons; 2012) highlights stories of healthy organisations as places where politics and confusion have all but been eliminated and as a result, productivity and morale soar, and good people almost never leave.  You’re now probably thinking, tell me something new and if all this is true, then why haven’t more organisations embraced and reaped the benefits of organisational health?

And of course the simple reason is it’s hard.  It requires real work and discipline, over a period of time, and it must be maintained.  It needs sustained leadership, relentless focus and absolute clarity of expectations at every level.  Lencioni talks of four key steps you can take, and encourage your peers to do the same:

1.  Build a Cohesive Leadership Team – This first step is about getting the leaders of the organisation to behave in a functional, cohesive way.  If the people responsible for running your business are behaving in dysfunctional ways, then that dysfunction will cascade into the rest of the organisation and prevent Organisational Health;

2.  Create Clarity – The second step for building a healthy organisation is ensuring that the members of that leadership team are intellectually aligned around six simple but critical questions:

  • Why do we exist?
  • How do we behave?
  • What do we do?
  • How will we succeed?
  • What is most important, right now?
  • Who must do what?

Leaders need to eliminate any gaps that may exist between them, so that people one, two or three levels below have complete clarity about what they should do to make the organisation successful.

3.  Over-Communicate Clarity – Once the behavioural and intellectual alignment is under way, leaders need to over-communicate the answers to questions above.  Leaders of a healthy organisation constantly repeat themselves and continually reinforce what is true and important.

4.  Reinforce Clarity – In addition to over-communicating, leaders must ensure that the answers to the six critical questions are reinforced repeatedly using simple human systems.  That means any process that involves people, from recruitment and disciplinary to performance management and decision-making, is designed in a custom way to intentionally support and emphasise the uniqueness of the organisation.

So as the hard work of the autumn months kicks in,

  • How Healthy is your Organisation?
  • How do you re-focus your efforts on the people-oriented aspects just as much as the strategic or operational?
  • What actions could or must you take now?

Mark Greenfield

Always take the weather with you

It’s the morning after the night before.  England have lost on penalties in the final of the Euro 2020 football tournament and it’s raining stair-rods outside, entirely in keeping with the prevailing mood.

And yet, and yet.  In my very mixed emotions this morning, ‘Weather with you’ by Crowded House is playing on the radio, and I’m already reflecting on how this young team, led with decency, vision and compassion by Gareth Southgate, has ‘made the weather’, and brought so much joy and togetherness to our national discourse over the last month.
I don’t want to try and make immediate links to leadership and brilliant team working with clunky sporting metaphors, but it seems very clear to me that watching the England team in both interviews and in action on the pitch aligns with how we can effectively collaborate at work and achieve collective successes.  Some of the observations that resonated with me:

  • The Clarity of Purpose, based on personal Values that Gareth Southgate outlined ahead of the tournament, in his wonderful ‘Dear England’ letter:  https://www.theplayerstribune.com/posts/dear-england-gareth-southgate-euros-soccer
  • The understated Trust that players demonstrated, knowing who was where at any one time, clear that each always had each other’s back
  • Celebrating Successes, the collective joy the players showed whenever anyone scored or delivered an incisive pass
  • Taking Responsibility for actions, and not avoiding the Accountability that comes with it – as Southgate said last night: “it’s down to me in relation to who takes the penalties”
  • Offering visible Support and Compassion.  As Luke Shaw said of his colleague Bukayo Saka when he missed the last penalty: “He is devastated. But the most important thing for us now as a team is to be there for him and give him a big hug and tell him to keep his head up. It is a penalty shootout – anything can happen.”
  • Celebrating Diversity in all its forms, acknowledging what every member of the playing and support teams brought to the England side, and the belief in Playing to Strengths, whether bringing in the creative maestro Jack Grealish to unlock the opponent defence, or holding faith in the rock-solid defence of Maguire, Stones and Shaw
  • Team ‘Huddles’ on and off the pitch, for shared problem-solving, motivational pep-talks, praising, and celebrating wins, however small

So, as we hopefully view this sporting tournament as a hugely encouraging step towards the World Cup next year, or even if we are not remotely interested in football, the team leadership questions that my experiences over the last month raise for me, are (with due thanks to Crowded House!):

  • How do you make the weather as a leader, or member of your team?
  • Would your followers and colleagues describe you as someone who ‘always took the weather with you’?
  • What do you need most now to take the sunny, uplifting weather with you?

Mark Greenfield

John, Operations Director

“I have worked with Mark a number of times over the last decade. It has been easy to develop a relationship with Mark, he makes you feel relaxed and is extremely good at listening, it feels like he knows you as a person, and remembers information from previous sessions. During my time with Mark he has used a number of diagnostic tools to aid discussion, as well as prompting questions before the session, and items to follow up on afterwards. I always look forward to meeting with Mark as it gives me an opportunity to step-out, reflect and gain alternative perspectives on life. During my coaching time with Mark my career has developed from a middle manager to board level across three different NHS Trusts in a variety of posts. My work with Mark has broadly focussed on three different areas; interacting with others, career choices and personal resilience. In all areas working with Mark has helped develop my perspective, thinking and action. It has developed my appreciation for other points of view and therefore my interactions with them, I have developed in my career to executive positions in the NHS and I am a more content, confident and relaxed professional. Thanks”

Look after yourself

As winter draws in and the daylight hours get shorter there is a tendency to hunker down and hibernate a bit. Christmas can be a time of great joy and for some great difficulty. For those struggling to make ends meet or those who are living on the streets, Christmas is just another added pressure to deal with.

It’s at this time of year that my thoughts often turn to those working on the front line in our hospitals – the “Winter” that was once a seasonal variation in demand for care now seems to be a year-round impact. As leaders in this kind of stressful environment we often give time to everyone else to make sure that they are coping and often to the detriment of our own health needs.

As a coach I have lost count of the times I have raised awareness for clients who can’t seem to see the personal impact of change or the pace of living/working that they are dealing with. Yet despite that I often find I put myself last. I know that I am affected by the lack of sunlight (Seasonal Affected Disorder) and I have been trying to get out with the dogs more as the benefit of fresh and exercise is well documented. The doctor advised me recently that I was vitamin D deficient and that was down to where I live – we just don’t get enough sunshine! So a concerted effort plus a maximum dose of Vit D is now part of my everyday routine.

The one thing I need to do more of is paying attention. Noticing what is happening for me as well as those around me. As the air steward says put your own oxygen mask on before you put one on someone else and it’s so true for our own resilience and self-care. As a leader, if we fail to look after us first and foremost what will be the impact on our team, our objectives and most of all our own performance.

Building new habits and ditching old ones is the arena I coach in and yet I have been around the Change Cycle umpteen times. I am an absolute maestro at making a change; it’s maintaining the change that causes the most difficulty. Sustaining long term changes in relation to personal habits or leadership behaviour is always going to be the crux of the matter. We all have a choice to be different and act differently and we have to ask ourselves “What happens if I don’t change…?”

Cycle of Change diagram. Reference: Prochaska, James O, DiClemente, Carlo C. (2005). "The transtheoretical approach".

Reference: Prochaska, James O, DiClemente, Carlo C. (2005). “The transtheoretical approach”.

 

So my advice to myself for the rest of the year is threefold:

  1. Get out into the light each day – remember it’s good for you.
  2. Say no more often – the need to say yes to please other people will bite you back at some point.
  3. Do less and do it well – spreading yourself too thinly doesn’t cover the important stuff enough.

Wishing you a happy healthy and peaceful time at Christmas or however you celebrate.

Get motivated!

Getting and staying motivated and positive needs our regular attention and energy. Investing in our own resilience, and helping others to foster theirs, is well worth the rewards. Here are a few tips and questions to help you to keep motivated:

  • Clear purpose: what is REALLY important to you? How can you focus more time and attention on what you see as your purpose? Having a clear purpose offers direction and something to aim for.
  • Emotional control: seek to understand those situations and people that may trigger an over-reaction or negative emotion. Seek out ways to respond differently and to resist getting hooked into that negative cycle. Remember – only YOU have the power to control your thoughts and feelings.
  • Self belief: remind yourself that you are unique and important. Believe in yourself, celebrate what you are good at and identify what others value in you.
  • Optimise your strengths: keep focusing on what motivates and energises you. Find ways to use your strengths more and in different situations.
  • Build your support network: we all need people who care for us and help us to take a different perspective on some issues.

Don’t stand still – keep reviewing where you are and what you are doing. And smile every day – it makes a real difference to how we feel and to the way others respond to us.

All these can help you be strong and flexible. Where can you start for yourself?

What can you do for people you work alongside? After reading this, why not aim to do one thing for yourself and one thing for some-one else before the end of this week. Then do something again next week – habits are only developed by practising the behaviours.

Listening: How often do we truly listen?

In an environment where our senses are constantly stimulated I am faced with the realisation that we may be losing our ability to listen properly.  At one level, we listen to the things we want to hear or feel the need to respond to, for example: our alarm clock, the beep of emails or questions aimed directly at us.  All of these things demand some type of response and we are effectively “listening” so we can take action.

Reflecting over the last couple of days I’m becoming more aware of how much I am not listening to.  In my job as a coach, I know I really listen to my clients because it is a critical part of my job.  It is important to actively listen and do this well because I know how incredibly powerful it is.  I recognise I am more than capable to free my mind and truly listen.  So what is different in other areas of my life?  The reality is I don’t listen as well.  I feel too busy, too rushed and my mind is often preoccupied with all the “things I must do”.  After work, typically I’m dashing to pick the children up from school and trawling through my emails en-route.  Of course I can hear noises in the background but I dismiss them.  They don’t require my attention.

Having recently listened to Julian Treasure’s Ted talk where he suggests listening quietly for 3 minutes a day, I made the pledge to try it.  On my journey home, I put down my phone, dismissed Metro and just sat quietly.  I noticed things.  I could hear a quiet conversation in the background, the train “humming” and people laughing….3 different people to be exact.  The noise of laughter made me smile and appreciate the moment.  If I had been on my phone, I wouldn’t have noticed what was happening with such acuteness.  In addition, listening made me observant.  I was aware of a man and woman, anxious about whether they were on the right train but sharing a sense of comfort that they “were in it together”.  The man smiled at me as he opened a packet of biscuits and then quickly apologized for making a noise.  The noise didn’t matter but I wonder what he was thinking?  This event highlighted that in that moment, I connected with another because I was present: listening and watching the whole picture.

Julian Treasure suggests we recalibrate and sit quietly to “just listen” for 3 minutes per day.  This is definitely something I am going to do.  Just listening made me smile, connect and appreciate things I might normally miss.  By not listening properly it makes me wonder how much more I am missing out on.  I’ve raised my awareness of the importance of truly listening.

Questions you can consider that can help build your own awareness include:

  • What distracts you from listening?
  • When someone is talking, do you listen to respond?
  • Do you find yourself preparing answers in your mind whilst someone else is still talking?
  • What does it feel like when someone really listens to you?
  • When do you find yourself truly listening?  How could you do more of it?

Imagine both at work and at home the impact you might have by just enhancing your own listening skills.  I noticed a change in only three minutes and it made my day even better.

Melanie

Top 10 tips for creating a career strategy/plan

Many of us are so caught up with our day to day work that we rarely get a chance to stop and think “where is my career going?” If you do not have a career strategy or plan, how do you know whether or not your career is heading in the right direction?

Go on, spoil yourself – give a bit of time for yourself by taking the straight forward steps suggested below.

  1. Start with the end point first
    • This process is all about where you want to be at a point in time. This could be 3, 5, or even 10 years down the line.
    • If you start at the present there can be lots of reasons to delay the process in the months ahead.
    • By having a clear end point you can mark out your step changes and are more likely to achieve your goals.
  2. Mark out when the step changes should occur
    • Using the same approach, there will be step changes which by example could mark the anticipated end of a role, or a period of working abroad.
    • You may also in your strategy have given yourself a fixed time in a position with the expectation of moving by a fixed date.
    • Step changes may also coincide with gaining a qualification or reaching the end of a training period.
  3. List additional skills/competencies required
    • Each step change could mark a point where you have developed one or a number of new competencies.
    • Certainly as you develop you should be enhancing existing or creating new competencies.
    • Create a list of what you believe them to be.
    • Discuss the list with senior colleagues and/or the Learning & Development department.
    • Apart from letting these people see that you are serious about your Career Development you should also get advice and confirmation that you are going down the right track.
  4. How will the job’s scope need to change
    • Quite often the scope of a job changes in line with changes in the organisation itself. This can mean additional skills and competencies will be required.
    • If you can see what is happening to your ideal future role then you can begin to plan the additional skills and competencies you will have to learn/train for to meet changing scope.
  5. What interventions will you need from others?
    • As mentioned above it is a positive move for others to see that you are taking charge of your career.
    • Initially identify who you consider can be a sounding board or mentor for you.
    • If the atmosphere in your organisation is not supportive here, consider getting advice from someone who you are close to who may well have left the organisation, so understands the culture.
    • Provided that you are not too demanding – normally a quarterly chat and catch up is enough – this should be acceptable to most people.
    • It is important to get unbiased feedback from selected others in this process which usually plays a valuable part in making sure you are following the right direction.
  6. Consider what might go wrong
    • The best laid plans can go wrong often for reasons outside your control. In fact it is almost better to accept upfront that something will go wrong on potentially several occasions.
    • Creating Strategy is a bit like planning a long journey. It’s bad luck if you didn’t hear the traffic news announcing that the road 20 miles ahead is blocked. Most of us on a road journey do listen to the traffic news so that we can divert our route should this happen.
    • This of course means we might be a bit late in arriving at our destination but we will get there.
    • Use this analogy to try to foresee where “road blocks” might arise on your career journey. Plan to keep an eye and ear open to any changes in the organisation that might lead to you creating a diversion plan.
  7. Does your “career” road map make sense?
    • Following on from above how is your strategy plan looking? Does it have some resilience built in to cope with diversions?
    • Is your strategy realistic, are the time changes sensible?
  8. Use our career strategy tools
    • We have a number of tools to help you create your strategy – see these in the book.
    • This chapter is all about creating the “big picture” not the detail or minutia.
  9. Check out the strategy with others
    • Throughout this section we have mentioned the involvement of others. Clearly you have to make your own mind up about the strategy you are creating.
    • If others – inside or outside your organisation – have expressed an interest in what you are doing, continue to involve them at least quarterly.
    • You may have had an influence on their desire to create their own strategy. Offer to be a sounding board for them. Apart from feeling good about helping someone else, they have a different slant on activities which you might want to utilise yourself – with their agreement of course!
  10. Finalise the strategy
    • Now we have made this point to get you thinking. Do you think your strategy should be cast in stone or should it be cast in putty?
    • The answer lies somewhere in between. You are creating a strategy about how to get from A to B in x years.
    • The principle stands, but there might be a few diversions down the road which will require flexibility on your part. If you are too inflexible the strategy might snap. If it is too flexible you might get lost down some side road.
    • The answer is to keep the strategy to broad principles and let the detail be part of the “flexible” plan.

This article is an extract from Ian’s book “100 Top Tips for Developing your Career” .

Development Required: What Lies Beneath?

Many Competency or Leadership frameworks give us a list of behaviours which are considered to be the examples of how to be good, great even, at our roles. What these lists often don’t do is help break down the underpinning development areas needed to change and ‘bring out’ new behaviours and habits; often the key to this development can lie quite deep within us.

In my work with Leaders in a wide variety of sectors, organisations & cultures, both as a facilitator and coach, there are a small number of themes that come up repeatedly.

One of these is the matter of Resilience or ‘Mental Toughness’ and it is concerned with the multiple challenges faced on a daily basis as leaders deal with delivering performance and growth in their organisations against a backdrop of an ever uncertain and unpredictable future.

In his book ‘The Inner Game of Tennis’ by Tim Gallwey there is a focus on this topic and outlined by this quote from the book:

“In every human endeavour there are two arenas of engagement: the outer and the inner. The outer game is played on an external arena to overcome external obstacles to reach an external goal. The inner game takes place within the mind of the player and is played against such obstacles as fear, self-doubt, lapses in focus, and limiting concepts or assumptions. The inner game is played to overcome the self-imposed obstacles that prevent an individual or team from accessing their full potential.”

Within the relative ‘safety’ of confidential coaching conversations many individuals open up with the realisation that they are usually ‘coping’ with the pressure of their role rather than building their competence to literally ‘get on top’ of how they react and deal with these pressures and in turn, support their teams to do the same.

So how do we go about changing our ability to be more resilient, whilst keeping all of our other plates spinning?

Again from experience and many conversations in this area with leaders, one of the first things we all should do is to create time and space for ourselves to think and reflect what our needs might be. We could also talk with a ‘buddy’, mentor, coach or critical friend so as to marshal our thoughts and get some real clarity about how resilient we are, how we are ‘coping’ with the demands of our jobs and life roles and start to reflect and think about what we might need to change.

There are frameworks to help with this analysis; for example in their book “Mental Toughness”, Adrian Moorhouse and Professor Graham Jones outline 4 key areas that, from research, make up the resilient individual.

These areas are our ability to:

  • Keep focused on the job in hand
  • Maintain an inner motivation about what we are trying to achieve
  • Develop our Self-Belief to be strong in the face of setbacks and
  • Manage the way we react to and deal with pressure

Developing one or more of these can build resilience with confidence and the ability to perform effectively despite what the world or our organisation throws at us.

Coaching teams

In this article Mark Greenfield, our MD, outlines some methods and benefits of using coaching as part of your leadership style to manage teams, ensuring that they are fully functioning, effective and self-motivating.

 

Coaching to improve Trust and Relationships in Teams

  • Good team coaches connect with everyone in the team – moving beyond the superficial to understand individual strengths and weaknesses. For your team to respond well to you as a coach, they must trust you especially as you’re asking them to be introspective, and open or ‘vulnerable’ enough to discuss how they can maximise their potential.
  • A good way to gain trust is to demonstrate that you are actively listening. This means really concentrating on what is being said, and actively stating that you understand their perspective, by playing back what you have heard. Empathy, eye contact and making the environment comfortable for the team member is crucial.
  • Share something not many people know about you? Where did you grow up? What was your first job?  How can people get the best out of me?  Disclosure, whilst slightly uncomfortable at first is a cornerstone to build trust.

 

Coaching for Motivation and Team Resilience

  • In ‘The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership’ (Kouzes and Posner; The Leadership Challenge; 3rd Ed 2002; Jossey-Bass), Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner describe Enabling Others to Act, and Encouraging the Heart as critical to empowering individuals to find their own motivations.
  • Enabling Others to Act means using the word ‘We’ rather than ‘I’ and adopting a collaborative approach, focusing on the means not the ends. Collaboration is the master skill that enable teams, alliances and partnerships to ‘self-manage’ and function effectively. It means developing cooperative relationships with those you work with, actively listening to diverse points of view, promoting cooperative goals and above all, taking time to build trust.
  • Encouraging the Heart is in my experience, the most difficult team coaching behaviour to sustain, as it is often sacrificed when the pressure is on the team, and the organisation is challenged. It means recognising individual and team contributions by showing appreciation for extra effort and performance and praising people for a job well done

 

Coaching to encourage Accountability

  • Accountability in teams means the willingness of team members to remind one another when they are not living up to the agreed performance standards and behaviours of the group. This shouldn’t always require the participation of the team leader, and in high-performing teams the team coach’s role is often to encourage direct, peer-to-peer accountability. This is based on the principle that peer pressure and the desire not to let a colleague down will motivate a team member more than any concern over sanctions or rebuke.
  • How do we encourage teams where people hold one another accountable? The key is coaching team members to be comfortable in giving each other appreciative and critical   This can often be encouraged by helping people to realise that when they fail to provide peers with constructive feedback, they are letting them down personally.
  • One way of encouraging a culture of peer-to-peer accountability is to carry out a simple Team Effectiveness Exercise as described by Lencioni in ‘Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Field Guide (2005, Jossey-Bass). This should only be used with teams that have worked together for at least a few months and where there is a degree of trust. During a timeout or away day, ask everyone on the team to write down the answers to two simple questions about every member of the team, excluding themselves:

‘What is the single most important behavioural characteristic or quality demonstrated by this person that contributes to the strength of the team?’, and ‘What is the single most important behavioural characteristic or quality demonstrated by this person that can sometimes derail the team?’

The team coach then starts with the leader and asks each team member to read out their positive qualities about the leader, then their constructive feedback about their potential ‘derailing’ qualities.  This provides direct, honest and unequivocal feedback, and the same process is then repeated for each team member.  The outcome is a sharing of positive qualities and development opportunities in a short period of time and can be motivating, constructive and cathartic … and often all at the same time!

 

Coaching for Team Performance

As a Team Coach, your top priority may be to facilitate the team to improve their performance.  Key interventions that work in addition to the enabling and encouraging behaviours described earlier include:

  • Provide frequent, regular feedback and recognition. Annual performance reviews don’t give team members all the encouragement they need. At least once a week, team coaches should give their team members informal feedback about areas they need to work on, and recognition for things they’re doing well.
  • Align employee behaviours to long-term business objectives of the organisation. All teams are trying to achieve something greater than themselves and reach big, long-term goals by working together.

Great managers understand that and use this overarching goal to motivate people and get the best performance by ensuring every team member can see how their performance contributes to the overall growth of the organisation.

  • Give team members autonomy and room for personal growth. Managers often struggle with this, but autonomy is one of the most valuable things you can give employees. Don’t micromanage your team by telling them how to do things; allow them the freedom to make mistakes that can help them learn and grow.

 

 

If you want to see the full version of this article then take a look at our book 100+ Top Tips on Managing Your Coaching Needs.

How to choose a coach for your organisation

In this article Mike Nelson, one of our partners,  shares his views on how to find the right coach or coaching organisation for you and your business. Preparation before coaching commences can prevent costly mistakes in time and money.

 

The Chemistry Conversation

  • Bob Baker shared his tips for effective chemistry meetings and how to identify how you know if its there (or not!)  in a previous article. As a quick reminder its an opportunity for the coachee and one (or more) potential coaches to speak with each other. The aim is to establish the early relationship and for both parties to get some ‘measure’ of each other. They may meet face to face, by phone or perhaps via electronic media (such as Skype). Such a session should at least contain personal introductions and sharing of backgrounds, an exchange of views of how the coach works (including style/approach) and the expectations and past experiences of coaching from the coachee. There would also normally be a discussion on the initial aims of the work and an opportunity for the coachee to ask any questions they have on their mind.

 

Coach Matching

  • This is a process that will vary in size and scale depending on the size and scale of the organisation and budget etc., indeed in small scale projects may not take place at all. At the very least the organisation may issue a specification for the coaching requirement including experience and/or accreditation required.
  • Typically, this would include some background on the organisation, the organisational need for coaching, the specification and requirements for the coaches; giving enough information for the coaches and/or their organisations to be able to decide the appropriateness of providing coaching at the size/scale required and to be able to meet the organisational needs. Often, there would be assessment of the potential coaching ‘pool’ which could include structured interviewing or even observed demonstrations of coaches at work allowing the organisation to make a more informed choice of the coaches and coaching skills on offer.
  • On a smaller scale, coaches may be presented to potential coachees via a selection of coaching profiles or vlogs allowing the coachee to choose an individual or shortlist of those coaches with whom they may want a Chemistry Conversation.

 

Evaluation

  • Coaching is often one of the more expensive development interventions you can provide as in many cases it is one-on-one and will require a number of interventions depending on the needs and requirements of the coachee(s). This will mean that the sponsoring/budget-holding department would want to get an understanding of the return on investment for such interventions.
  • The coaching programme may of course be part of a much wider structured development programme (such as a blended learning leadership programme) and therefore the evaluation of the coaching would form part of the overall evaluation of the total programme. Measures of individual change and progress, application of learning, demonstration of organisational change and/or business results could all be included and there are a variety of well-used methods for collecting such data such as evaluation questionnaires or forms, focus groups, structured interviews etc.
  • Build in evaluation at the start, even if it is a single coachee and a short intervention at least some demonstration of the learning by the coachee, changes of behaviour, application to the organisation/department and the impact of the intervention would be useful measures to demonstrate the effectiveness of an intervention.

 

Feedback

  • One of the biggest challenges for coaches is knowing whether the coachee is presenting the whole of the issue they are working on; very often a coach might be relying on the coachees own point of view. It would therefore be useful if feedback from other parties could be obtained to use in the coaching programme.
  • Feedback can be collected in a variety of ways, by the coach, the coachee or using a process such as 360/180° feedback. The effectiveness of using an external coach can be greatly enhanced if feedback is incorporated into the process.
  • Some coaches, (I’m amongst those) will also offer to observe the coachee at work. This can provide a rich source of additional feedback and observation for the coach to work with. It also helps the coach see the coachee in context and this can be quite different from sitting in a somewhat sterile meeting room.

 

How long should it be?

  • Typically, a series of 1:1 coaching interventions will take the form of 3 or 6 sessions taking place at intervals of 4-6 weeks with individual sessions lasting between 1-2 hours. Having said this there will be a wide range of variations around the programme quoted and this can depend on the availability of the manager to be released, how the organisation wishes to deploy coaches and whether coaches will visit or work by phone or Skype.
  • One methodology is for a coach to provide a “Coaching Clinic” – in this case they may be deployed and available for a day (or half day) where managers can book ‘slots’ of 30-45 minutes – this can be a cost-effective way of utilising a coaching resource inside your organisation. It would not be appropriate however for coachees with more complex or deep needs.
  • It is worth asking potential coaches how long they recommend coaches sessions should last – this will give you an idea of their MO as a coach and will help you evaluate whether they are most suited to the kind of intervention your organisation needs.

 

Setting Objectives

  • This may seem an obvious part of the process and in many cases the coachee working towards a set of defined objectives would be a normal part of any coaching contract/intervention.

Often objectives for coaching will be tied in with Personal Development Plans (PDPs). If objectives are to be set, to tie in with the whole philosophy of effective coaching, then the coachee should think for themselves what the objectives should be even if they are subsequently reviewed by line manager and/or HR.

  • Having said this there is a school of thought that coaching objectives can actually get in the way of effective, free-flowing coaching where emergence is a rich source of finding the real problem and/or the creative solution.
  • When objectives are set, do allow at least for review and an evolving picture so that new thinking, information can be taken into account when trying to obtain real/effective change for your organisation.

 

Three-Way Conversations (with line managers)

  • Coaches will often talk of the coaching contract, this is both a written and unwritten agreement between the coach and coachee which defines the scope, scale and boundaries for the work. It may also include the practicalities of time, location and evaluation as mentioned elsewhere in this chapter as well as any ground rules and important factors such as coachee confidentiality.
  • In organisations where the origination and/or sponsorship comes from a line manager it is good practise to involve the line manager and coachee in a 3-way conversation with the coachee.
  • This allows for the line manager and the coachee to agree objective or aims for the coaching, for any feedback from the line manager to be discussed in front of the coach and allows the coach to ask any relevant questions to this conversation to enter the coaching process with as clear a brief as possible.
  • It may also be useful to have a three-way conversation with the line manager at the halfway stage and at the end. This would allow for some practical evaluation of progress and any further feedback from the line manager to be delivered in earshot of the coach.

If you want to see the full version of this article then take a look at our book 100+ Top Tips on Managing Your Coaching Needs.