如何提高導師水平的9.5個重要方法 - 由侯婉琳提供

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 *The Hype Cycle is a branded graphical presentation developed and used by US Information Technology (IT) research and advisory firm Gartner. (See Wikipedia) 

*The Hype Cycle is a branded graphical presentation developed and used by US Information Technology (IT) research and advisory firm Gartner. (See Wikipedia) 

‘’the good coach” 吸引了其他志同道合的導師(無論全職/兼職/隨意),他們期望得益於超越目前的市場狀態。我們參加了小組討論。我們與同行,博客和tgc讀者聯繫,要求他們分享他們在市場上注意到的影響他們在該領域實踐的方式;我們非常感謝他們與我們分享的所有知識片段。這使我能夠思考並連接更廣泛的領域,並提供一些有效證據的參考資料,以支持2015年達成的9.5條提高輔導的重要途徑清單。

簡而言之,我們所進行的是單獨分享我們的專業實踐案例和我們個人發展的故事。只有這樣才能促成真正拓寬及深化我們對於如何通過提高個人潛能的輔導來給予個人關注的理解。我們所做的不僅僅是理論或模式,我們需要對自己更加自信,並分享輔導的真正益處。以下是為什麼這很重要的9.5個原因(有些甚至可以將這些視為輔導領域的戰略問題!)。


1.  教練作為一個領域將繼續增長。 當它被看作是一種手段而不是一種手段的結尾時,它會變得更加紮根。

輔導是人類進化的一部分; 它將繼續成長並逐漸成熟,充分發揮'充分利用每一個人'的潛力。 了解如何以及在哪裡最好地應用輔導並獲得最佳回報非常重要。 案例研究正在慢慢開始出現,並與更廣泛的社區在特定的實踐部分中分享,例如, 入職,過渡到高層職責,從長假返回,即產假和領導。 這是一個積極證據的例子:

與輔導干預相關的員工態度調查變化可能非常強大 - 葛蘭素史克憑藉其全球員工調查得出了令人信服的積極證據,通過比較接受過與未接受過培訓的員工團隊的領導影響[1].”

未來之路:我們需要鼓勵更多的案例研究進行分享和交流,這些案例研究記錄了輔導如何為“充分利用每個人”做出貢獻的益處和局限性。


2.  有必要同時增加導師的執行量並提高輔導效益的認識。

  • 導師是職務性職業的一部分;
  • 有些人會全職工作,包括培訓和監督,
  • 除了通常的技術角色之外,有些人會提供輔導,
  • 一些人將作為經理和/或領導者的角色之外或作為他們角色的組成部分提供輔導,
  • 而許多其他人將會在沒有意識到這是輔導的情況下進行輔助。

在主流輔導市場中,並且在目前導師的狹義定義中,它被認為是一個艱難和競爭的市場。似乎有更多合格的導師和更多的來自高級企業背景的導師的需求(以及可能的可用性)已經轉化為輔導。他們根據他們在特定環境和條件下如何通過他們的操作經驗所形成的教練證明他們有不同程度的積極影響,帶來了他們豐富的經驗和風格(更具指導性的方法)。

對專業團體和“合格”導師來說,這個問題日益突出,特別是在何時或者誰在界定誰是客戶和/或市場,以及他們在哪些方面真正進行輔導工作。目前的自我評估資格足以區分和決定誰適合職業導師的角色,誰應該被排除在外?可能不是。此外,來自各種項目(學術到培訓學校)的畢業生畢業後也在這個領域尋求工作,並且希望與其他有經驗的導師一起工作。

未來之路:我們需要關注培訓中的人才 - 管道是什麼?

2.5.  當你的目標市場沒有聽過輔導並從補救結束時開始不要感到驚訝! 

雖然許多人和組織都沒有聽說過輔導,但導師的想法正在從報導和在跨國公司工作或曾經工作過的人那里傳播出來,並在全國各地和世界各地設有辦事處(例如德國,印度,法國,香港,中國,美國)。

引入輔導技能和屬性的機會被視為日常管理和領導力日益重要的一部分。這導致對管理人員的輔導技能培訓的需求增加,這是領導力發展計劃正式學習過程的一部分。他們通常應該涉及'工作'項目,要么是個人認同他們自己,要么是一個'學習者'團隊工作和分享的項目,這不僅包括業務成果,還包括學習要點。這是一個增長的趨勢。

未來之路:輔導不是神聖的。在整個組織的各個層面(前線到首席執行官)都有很多機會參與提供指導。它知道輔導何時達到目的。


3.  聽市場。以領導組織發起人去評價輔導自身的利益 – 存有太多變數!

 公司,尤其是大型企業,是輔導的老練用戶,他們質疑自我任命的資格和認證的局限性。 用於培訓導師的勝任力模型在提供持續可靠的產出方面受到限制,這導致了四大會計師事務所之一普華永道[2], 以他們自己的方式開發“一套全球指導標準,將英國公司的做法作為世界其他地區的基準。” 德勤[3] 同上“將其他國家的成熟輔導文化與英國公司合併在一起,以推動德勤大學在歐洲,中東和非洲地區的一致性和最佳實踐”。 他們不再支持任何專業團體。 或者來自皇家護理學院的學習和OD經理報告說:“ILM提供了一種可能的替代途徑來進行認證,其規模要比EMCC要求更低,規模更合適[4] "

未來之路:贊助商正在開發和建立評估輔導在組織中如何發揮最佳作用的最佳實踐。他們有數據。我們需要關注,因為他們將在未來決定市場。

 

27293286_s.jpg

4.部輔導,主要作為戰略風險管理的一部分應用於有效組織的興起。它需要時間,努力,謹慎的計劃和充足的資源。

接受外部輔導並超越其範圍的更成熟的公司只是購買決定,尤其是在2008年金融危機之後,他們正在接受內部指導。培養內部輔導幹部的組織已經證明這是一種成本意識型解決方案,並且有助於保持更長時間從事橫向擴展角色的各種員工的才能和動力。對於建立一個內部輔導組有很多策略(見1),最受歡迎的導師通常是個人輔導課,作為他們'日常工作'的補充,並且經常在正常工作時間之外。

在目前的市場(見3)內部導師可以被視為對外部導師的威脅。但現實是,它提高了導師的概況標準和實踐,因為他們了解他們客戶的工作環境,他們可以策略性地找到試點教輔導干預的方法,並用自己的語言向組織展示其好處。實際上,內部指導可以在有限的條件和細微差別下擴大導師的實踐範圍。尋求多樣性的組織的需求,與選擇參與或指派給輔導員的個人匹配的適當水平的獨立性和專業性,很可能會推動內部和外部執行導師的平衡。

未來之路:部導師對輔導的發展有著驚人的貢獻。我們可以創建一個論壇(pow哇)來互相交換導師故事和實踐嗎?


5. 明確所得到的好處是因為輔導的結果影響組織的需求並不是一個簡單的過程。

利用投資回報率的會計績效衡量標準可能更多的是來自導師(主要是外部)的營銷誇張,這些導師正尋求迅速向贊助商證明自己的工作是正確的。正確執行投資回報率的局限性在於難以隔離導致輔導影響的因素,並且清楚說明這些因素的積極影響從行為變化中切實轉變的能力。

像任何顧問/自由職業者一樣,總是需要更多時間與讚助商建立關係和聲譽才能提供輔導本身。當這個機會出現時,並且反復地,贊助者明確地委派導師他們的輔導如何能夠在他們的策略中以個人關注,安慰劑或不安慰的方式使個人受益。建立內部導師職能報告[5],雖然“強大的輔導評估過程已經到位......沒有任何依靠評估數據來證明繼續投資輔導是合理的,因為存在所有公司內部信仰,投資內部輔導提供了極好的價值“。

未來之路:評估輔導的影響需要由領導組織發起人(而非購買者)以客戶的語言分享和驗證,以及他們如何將個人,團隊,職能和組織的積極方面聯繫起來,因為他們通常知道如何影響(行為)的連鎖反應與績效有關。問題更多;如何分享這些故事,以何種方式展示和證明個人導師實踐的有效性?

6.缺乏共識建立什麼是輔導

輔導既不是一個法律規定的,也不是受控於專業的受控術語;因此任何導師實際上在市場上所做的事情都會持續混淆。例如,專業服務部門的導師任務已經被用於替代領導者,他們被用來傾斜幫助那些留下和/或晉升來應對肩上的所有負擔和壓力的“不快樂/高潛力”少數人, '高潛力輔導/中層管理輔導/領導力輔導/ C套導師'來交付成果。因此,隨著管理人員進入一個更高級別的職位,通常是多個職位的合併,並成為學習與發展組合的可接受部分,越來越多人認為輔導可以發展為潛在的發展潛力在大型組織中有高級管理人員的讚助。

 未來之路:在如何達到全人類潛力以及在何種條件下存在矛盾。讓我們澄清一下輔導的目的是什麼,以及可以期待什麼結果,讓公眾和客知道他們可以信任輔導專業人員。從那裡開始,也許我們就可以開始為輔導建立一個定義。

7.缺乏知識體以展示和評估輔導的條件和影響

自2007年在都柏林舉行的國際輔導研究論壇以來,[6] 與Lew斯特恩

“[從所提出的100個課題中]從2008年到2012年,共有超過100項研究共發表在80多種期刊上,在同行評審的期刊中,五年內基本上只有100項研究與發展有關關於輔導,關於結果的討論略多於40,關於組織的輔導不多於30,關於輔導與其他輔助實踐以及它們之間的差異,大約有20篇文章"。

知識來源於像輔導這樣的新領域?從導師本身。實踐者如何在市場中創造和維持自己的經驗,以及他們如何為輔導創造條件是研究人員首先要進行調查(也許甚至使用參與觀察作為一種方法),然後更多地了解工具的拼裝(輔導培訓)正在適用於各種情況和背景。也許作為輔導,並且通過我們的職業生涯,我們太習慣於專家的觀點,他們擁有所有的答案,並且對自己的信心較低。顯然,在自信和過度自信之間(大師般)需要做出明智的平衡,並真正考慮並理解我們如何在直覺上進行探索,並以更多細節和事實為基礎。

未來之路:了解輔導的前因後果並不是一門完美的科學。然而,它不應該阻止我們更多地應用這些方法來更多地了解我們如何做我們所做的事情,同時不斷提高我們的自我意識。


8.  了解如何招募導師

贏得組織合同通常需要獨立執行導師與許多不同的協會合作 - 指導顧問到管理顧問(小型,中型和大型)。甚至還不清楚與獨角獸/自由職業者相比,為直接與中小企業,甚至跨國公司工作的獨立承包商提供了哪些機會。

這導致了一個重要的問題,為了保護該領域,正在使用與選擇過程(類似的資格,認證,評估中心,訪談)一起的什麼類型的輔導合同/協議?然而,越來越引人注意的是,尋求更多的集中控制使用外部導師,而不是直接選擇自己喜歡的個人導師(儘管這仍然發生在頂部)!

未來之路:了解指導合同的各種方式和方法可能會為所有相關方(也可以適當承保)提供最佳實踐指導方針。


 9.  輔導監督需要朝著適應性轉向專注於專業發展,其中個人發展是導師發展的基本組成部分。也許CPPD更適合鼓勵健身實踐。

像導師一樣,輔導監督缺乏任何正式的定義,大多數培訓計劃/學術課程將框架與其他治療背景相適應,專注於培養個人的精神(包括情緒)健康。從學術界借鑒來看,主管通常是一個個人(講師/教授),他是一個特定學科(單一/跨學科)的專家,其角色是指導和製定學生進行研究的標準,然後將其結果呈現給最好的優勢。然後,我們作為導師需要問的問題是:對於那些導師應該如何處理的健康人員來說,什麼類型的監督是必須的,至少應該適合專業練習?

雖然監督正在確定這應該是什麼;一個更實際和有用的方法是利用“持續個人和專業發展”(CPPD),其中一小部分同齡人[7],[8] (最少3至5人)聚在一起並使用輔導創造一個學習環境的方法,在那裡他們可以談論導師的挑戰,對於初學者來說:

Learning conditions for cppd1.jpg
  • 從構建練習到輔導中出現的獨特挑戰,並找到替代(並且很可能是試用和測試)的方式來管理它
  • 分享個人發展故事,幫助他們推動整體實踐,
  • 試用新方法/技術並了解其優勢和局限性,
  • 在適當的情況下,比較一個人的實踐和方法並向他人學習,
  • 討論道德問題和困境,
  • 挑戰定義並理解輔導真正的界限是什麼。                                                                                                                                                     未來之路:為一小群同行創造一個持續個人和專業發展的學習環境,並與更廣泛的社區分享一些主題和故事以從中學習。 通過這種方式,我們正在共同致力於實踐知識領域並為其作出貢獻。

正如開始時所說的那樣,我們每個人都需要分別分享我們的專業實踐和個人發展故事的案例研究。 只有通過這些重要的貢獻,我們才能真正拓寬和深化我們對於如何通過提高個人潛能的輔導來給予個人關注的理解。 我們如何不斷創造參與?

 

Acknowledgements:
*I'd like to thank the following practitioners around the world for sharing their thoughts, experiences and opinions with me. Martina Weinberger, Aubrey Rebello, Laurent Terseur, Eamon O'Brien, Lynne Hindmarch, Nicholas Wai, Jeremy Ridge, Sue Young, Doug Montgomery to name just a few.  Any mistakes in this blog are all mine.

References (incl. the good coach blogs)
[1] Doug Montgomery's blog
[2] Ridler & Co (2014) Case Study: The Development of Internal coaching in the Big Four Accounting Firms, p 17
[3] ditto
[4] Internal Coaching Group (2015) What is the role of APECS in supporting and promoting Best Practice in Internal Coaching APECS 4th Annual Symposium www.apecssymposium.org
[5] Ridler & Co (2014) Case Study: The Development of Internal coaching in the Big Four Accounting Firms (pg 14)
[6] Lew Stern Interview: Research on Professional Coaching (http://libraryofprofessionalcoaching.com/wp-app/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Lew-Stern-Inteview.pdf)
[7] O'Brien, E., Montgomery, D., and Thackray, Y (2015) Contracting to avoid gossiping APECS 4th Annual Symposium. www.apecssymposium.org
[8] Young, S and Thackray, Y (2015) How do APECS members realise the value of CPPD: The Quality Proposition that keeps APECS at the Leading Edge. APECS 4th Annual Symposium. www.apecssymposium.org

*Calculations for Ratio of coaching to active working population

World Employment Social Outlook Trends 2015 (International Labour Organization)

  • Working Population: ~3000 million
  • Unemployment: ~200million
  • Active Working Population: 2800 million

Target coaching population: 1540 million (~55% excl. Low skilled occupations and non routine manual jobs)

Ratio: 1:15,400 or 0.00006% engaged in coaching. 

Making sense of what I do, how my coaching practice is taking shape by Yvonne Thackray

My coaching practice has evolved over time to focus on working directly with coaching practitioners: 

  1. Who are engaged in continually building and developing their own personal knowledge base that’s integral to their business practice by understanding what it is they’re delivering to their clients (with a level of certainty), and
  2. Who are interested in contributing their personal knowledge to a growing body of practitioner knowledge in the field of coaching for their communities, and society, more generally. 

My assumptions and outline of an approach

To make sense of what I do and how it’s evolved, I have developed my understanding by inverting the best practices used to report on research (commonly used across all disciplines) which can be described as follows,

  • Making sense of the outcomes from my practice (the impact), which
  • Draws upon my own experiences as a practitioner (the results/data), and
  • Checking out my experiences, and influences, with others (literature &/peer review), that leads to
  • Understanding how I’ve gone about doing what I do (the methodology), to then
  • Make adjustments/refinements within my practice and see whether the outcomes are aligned with those changes, and then the cycle begins again. 

I’m still in the early stages of this process because there are insufficient, as well as inadequate, frameworks readily available in our field (compared to other established disciplines and professions). Any information that is currently available rests on very narrowly defined boundaries and conditions, which has been extrapolated beyond its useful limits as a form of explanation that could then work across a multitude of contexts and scenarios. In my opinion, there is still so much to learn, experience and understand. And as a field, we’re still developing a language, let alone an agreed one with definitions, that gets to a level of understanding and detail of what’s really happening that consistently delivers robust results. 

Importantly, it’s the practitioner who has continuously found ways to deliver their approach to coaching to their market (which even academics/researchers have difficulties accessing), and have a business that’s ultimately being validated by the market by its longevity. They are the real researchers, and my practice revolves around understanding how they realize their practice by helping them share their experiences, their patterns of behaviours, and their approaches in their natural language. The impact of my approach can be seen by both the quantity, and quality (see criteria), of blog-articles published on the good coach (a repository) that respects individual differences (diversity) in such an inclusive field. 

For me, this is what practitioner research is, and should represent. Eventually these reports (blog-articles shared from practitioner experiences) can then help inform and build consensus towards best-practice (standards), even principles (ethics), which has been proven to work across a multitude of situations and contexts (profession) and better supports practitioners professionally. This is the desired future … meanwhile, let me share how I want to contribute to this.


Making sense of how I have been shaping my practice

Without a familiar and recognisable structure, it can be challenging to see what my practice is, especially when it is generally interpreted to mean how I practice my business rather than how I practice coaching. Both are important because they are strongly linked; they represent the necessary cycles of understanding between the market opportunities for the service provided (the impact) and the robustness of the service delivered (the how) that can then lead to further market opportunities. 

How I shape my practice, the way I’m using it here, can currently be described as working at two levels. At one level (external), it’s more around how observers see what it is I am doing which has some recognisable outlines that forms a shape that makes sense to them. The other level (internal) is more personal because it is how I access data, process it, and then make decisions i.e. cognitive patterns which shape my actions. And what I have learnt so far is how my coaching is being shaped through the decisions I made as part of my business practice (that included many peer conversations) which is beginning to be recognised by others.

What I share next are my top three drivers that have consistently been shaping my practice,  

  1. A conscious choice was made early on in my practice to choose to work with clients with whom I could deliver my best services to and not to be a one-size fits all type of practitioner. I realised quickly on, at the beginning of my practice which I call the testing phase, that I work better with independent, mature healthy individuals who are already mapping out their journey to live a more successful and fulfilling life, however they choose to define and measure it. I also understood my limitations, and wouldn’t be able to work with everyone on anything because it wouldn’t be fulfilling or making the best use of my strengths. 
  2. I have a personal preference to continue my learning whilst working with clients, which helps me to continuously engage in my research enquiry around the field for coaching. And my clients have also decided for themselves how my coaching approach will help them to support them in the myriad ways they go about creating their future. This may never be fully articulated, more an implicit awareness and understanding, yet quality partnerships are being developed in which all parties involved are receiving value from realising this potential in different ways with growing confidence and clarity.
  3. My practice has also been driven around my curiosity for understanding how the standards purported in coaching haven’t evolved or developed since the inception of self-appointed bodies and their related training schools. There is a real gap between what I understood to be a professional used in other functional disciplines like engineering, law, medicine, compared to how it’s currently being used in coaching. 
    •    Being a professional invokes degrees of trustworthiness that any ‘registered practitioner’ will deliver best practices to their clients packaged in the wor¬¬ks contracted for ethically. They should regularly demonstrate, evidence and self-report to agreed standards and criteria in their accumulated working experience, periodic training and relevant academic education in order to maintain their recognised standing in society for the profession they represent. 
    •    These standards and criteria have been extracted from the current body of knowledge from which other professions rely on and confidently refers to because it has been rigorously tested and proven in various scenarios and contexts to reliably provide consistent results. 

In coaching it seems that ‘being a professional’ refers more to the business models used to meet populist market trends because we lack a coherent and robust body of knowledge from which any practitioner’s practice can both build upon and contribute to that meets a fundamentally growing societal need in the market place. 


Assessing the wider coaching market as part of my practice

My interest in the field and market, and how I choose to practice, has stemmed from one simple yet open-ended question, ‘What is coaching?’ It seemed natural that the first port of call to find answers to my questions was by attending institutions that were deemed to be reputable in delivering the requisite programmes, with the added bonus that after completing their program work would be available (once you have worked out your niche). 

I attended a handful of institutions in different parts of the world in the hope of finding the answer; it was quite an initial investment that I thankfully recouped through alternative means. Over and over in my investigations, each of the coaching organisations (training schools, academic institutions, and conference providers) provided a general description of coaching that fitted the skills training model they were delivering. That model is fundamental to all the different stages of individual development in how to use it, and furthermore it can easily be adapted to various market opportunities because it operates at a level of generality.

A useful (and seemingly expensive) starting point to understand where the market is reported to being, is that coaching is the sum of your experiences of using proprietary coaching models!   
More recently, in some of the latest publications for e.g. ‘The Sage Handbook of Coaching’ – the proposed ‘go-to academic resource’ - the editors shared some of their opinions in their Introduction of where they see the field heading,

“… the demand for coaching services may continue to be strong for a very long time to come, albeit perhaps with more individualistic, industrialised societies where traditional social structures are less evident. Whatever the case, the ability of practitioners to deliver valued services will rest upon the existence of a rich and texted knowledge base that can provide good and relevant guidance for practitioners.” (pg 4)

“... it should be noted that this book is nor primarily focused on advancing the professionalization of coaching. Rather its primary aim is to stimulate the development of the knowledge base for coaching, thereby making a contribution to further establishing coaching as an applied discipline. As such, this Handbook requires no unified definition of coaching, irrespective of how desirable that might be in principle [it provides readers (usually practitioners) with an early indication of the author’s view on the fundamental question: What is coaching?]” (pg 5)

“…the intention of this Handbook is to provide graduate students, scholars, and researchers with a premier point of contact with the current theoretical and empirical knowledge base [through the use of rigorous scientific methods] along with many of the established and emerging debates in the scholarly literature.” (pg 1)

“Despite the explicit academic orientation of this book (concerned with mapping the field and critiquing the knowledge base), many authors seemed to be naturally orientated towards addressing the needs of practitioners, through recommendations for practice, rather than stimulating the creation of knowledge through thoughtful analysis of the literature and recommendations for future research.” (pg 18)

 “Until a reasonable way of conceptualising coaching is proposed, the onus will continue to fall to researchers to provide clear descriptions of the coaching intervention they study, in order for their findings to be comparable to others.” (pg 7)

The conclusions shared so far didn’t satisfy my curiosity; however they do provide a map of, a vision even, of where these experts see the field moving towards. Also, my list of questions kept growing and seemed to be outpacing the information that was being shared. The questions I’m currently holding is more focussed on how coaching is really being addressed in the market, for example, 

  • I realised that I am better working with certain individuals at different stages of their learning and development than with everyone. Why isn’t this addressed in any of the training or published media? How does andragogy and stages of development fit in with coaching? How do you know when to pass clients onto other coaches who would be better suited working with them? How do coaches talk more confidently about what it is they are doing? How do you appreciate individual differences and learn to access the client’s world through their use of language to explain what it means in their everyday context? 
  • Accepting my services is one of the many contributions that is part of the clients’ schema. Is there a bias/overconfidence in how significant the coach’s contribution has been to the client in reaching their solution? When is it appropriate to be using ROI? How are those contributions really being measured? How do coaches more accurately talk about their contributions? How much do coaches understand regarding their clients’ real intentions for coaching? How often are coaches recontracting? Does age matter? How do coaches talk about the quality of coaching they deliver as the sum total of all of their learnt experiences to date?
  • It’s my responsibility to create and sustain the conditions for building the trust and rapport at the level of the readiness of the client, the real contracting. How is this really being measured? How aware is the coach of their behaviours and reactions to what’s been shared and impacts on how the client responds? How do we assess the level of readiness of the client to participate in coaching? How reliable are chemistry meetings? How much should be disclosed as part of creating the conditions for engagement? How much working knowledge of the client’s context is important in getting access to them? What’s the real ‘power’ dynamics in any coaching conversation? How do you decipher and select the right phrases and words to unlock further meaning behind the client’s context? How do you make those connections that are most meaningful in their context that lets the client know that you’re listening? 

The real knowledge, a term itself that needs to be debated in our field, should contribute to, and be, a two-way street to learning and development that inspires dialogue, critical thinking and meaningful action that impacts and influences an individual’s confidence, maturity and independence to practice coaching. Nevertheless, there are different developmental stages to learning and hence each of these organisations do fulfill a service for different segments of society. 

Overall, it would seem that the key contributors have reached a plateau in terms of their real contributions to the field, and carving out where authority, or guidance, should lie in ensuring practitioners deliver good practice. For example, I have had to look elsewhere for answers and I completed a Masters in Social Anthropology to investigate coaching identity.


How my coaching practice is taking shape

I’ve developed and grown my specialism (or niche if you prefer) in, and around, coaching. The real knowledge lies with the real experts, the practitioners, 

  • who are doing it day in day out (regardless of whether they call it coaching or not), 
  • in their chosen practice to supports others, and themselves, 
  • to be better at what it is they want to continue achieving even more confidently whether in their professional and/or personal lives. 

It’s quite radical, and still a long way to go for it to be acknowledged as the norm, for individuals to request professional help that focuses on improving the quality of life - living to our potential both personally and professionally. In addition, having access to considered written material that is readily available to those who are interested or curious about what is coaching, is limited with the current politicking in our field. 

My role as a coach is to help access those experiences (whether through conversations, writing or in combination) and help make them more readily available. Hence the nature and the shape of my practice, where my target audience (as the lingo goes) is mature practitioners of coaching, who can recognise the benefits of honestly reporting on their experiences and sharing their learning for both themselves and with other stakeholders including but not limited to other practitioners, peers, communities, the coaching field, curious individuals, and society itself. 

Mutual benefits are being shared through this contract, and what I have learnt so far coaching coaches, or applying my coaching approach working with practitioners, include:

1. Understanding further the contexts and cognitive patterns of each practitioner. 

Each of the practitioners I work with have their own unique styles and ways of operating in their practice, and it is important that I do not make assumptions of what it is they are saying, that may or may not match their actions or behaviour, without any clear reference points or facts. Otherwise, this results in inferring what’s being said rather than understanding what is actually being shared in their context. 

That is why when I participate in any conversation, verbally or as part of the writing process, I feel fortunate to be a part of their learning process because they are sharing their cognitive patterns of how they make sense of what it is they are doing within their practice. My approach to coaching, in both cases, begins with,

  • Appreciating their level of readiness, and
  • Where they want to take the conversation/theme that supports them in their practice. 

These are some of my indicators for what I perceive to be of maturity and independence exhibited within a coaching practitioner. They have decided what they want to focus on and carry through onto paper that explains in various detail, and breadth, their practice. And with every iteration of working with each practitioner, there is measured growth and development and this is observed in the number of ways each practitioner then uses their blog-articles as part of their business development. 

2. Delivering my actions with care and consideration to build both respect and trust. 

Once I begin to grasp their language and meaning making that they are sharing through their words and approach to structuring, I begin to hypothesise further their motivations and intention. What it is they are looking to share in their latest piece, and I begin to ask more succinct and hopefully poignant questions (whilst also sharing where I’ve come from to make such a question) that helps them to consider and clarify that what they have said is actually what it is they are wanting to share. 

3. Appreciating different topics of interest, commitments and their motivation to find ways to continue their learning and development.

No one practice is the same because we are each working at different leading edges. Spending the time to talk and write about what is currently most important to them in their practice, and that they then continue to share in those pieces on a more regular basis informs me that this approach to coaching is working for them.

This is really an important part of, the ongoing contracting I have with them. Importantly, they are continuing to find novel ways to challenge themselves in how they want to talk about their experiences and share their learnings from their practice, and that I can continue to add value too. After all, coaching is a two-way street. 

4. Learning from others - mapping out the diversity. 

Having this opportunity to both work and learn from others has allowed me to continue my broader research topic of ‘what is coaching?’ I am just one practitioner amongst many, and I’m certain that I’ll never have the same exact experiences as others, but situations might occur where similarities may emerge and so we can learn from others.

I have also expanded on my own vocabulary.  It also allows for a more collective voice to be shared, as evidenced in various publications, that begins to extend in detail and expand in scope a more inclusive and sophisticated mapping of diverse coaching practices. 


Where next?

As I shared and outlined at the start of my piece, I am still at the beginning of understanding what my coaching practice is really about. I am more comfortable and focussed in exploring, and comparing, in more detail the first three parts (impact, results, literature & peer review) in making sense of how my practice is forming its shape against other known parameters.

I’m continually dipping in and out of building, deepening and, even in many cases acknowledging, those awareness’s and learning how to talk about it more explicitly as part of my practice. Reflecting on where next,

  • I am still developing my explanations of what it is I am doing in my practice, and what I’ve shared here are really the outlines and key themes of my practice which can be expanded on, for sure, more considerably. I have written elsewhere some pieces on these themes as part of my learning and development, and only now starting to integrate those thoughts of how it influences my approach to practice. 
  • I’d probably say that what I’ve shared is still quite general i.e. it doesn’t have that specificity that allows others to reproduce what it is that I’m doing in their own way. As I shared earlier, I currently have simple metrics that informs me that what I am doing currently works, and I feel that it is through collaboration with peers that I’ll be able to begin to become more explicit in what I’m doing. 
  • I’ll still continue reading, and learning from others how their thoughts and explanations compare to my experiences. This is how I learn and adapt what has worked for others and bring it into my approach because it lends itself to my practice. Working with peers, whether in a team and/or as individuals, will continue to help me better articulate my methodology which in turns help me better serve my clients. 

I appreciate that what I’ve shared will make sense to some, more than others, and for sure this is just one of the many ways to talk about the shape of our practice. I’ve covered some core principles and key learnings that mark the foundation of my practice, and how it’s perceived to be recognisable in a normal market place. Furthermore, I continue to enjoy recognising how my identity is intertwined with what I do in coaching, and how important it is to acknowledge those biases as part of my sharing (rather than leaving them out).

I’m curious, “How would you begin describing the shape of your practice?”
 

To connect with Yvonne Thackray

Reference
Bachkirova, T., Spence, G. and Drake, D. (2017) The SAGE Handbook of Coaching. 1 Edition. SAGE Publications Ltd. (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/the-sage-handbook-of-coaching/book245418#description ) 
 

“Doing ‘Edge work’ creates waves of value for the client, and the organization” by K. C. Char (guest)

What does it mean to work on the edge? 

To work on the edge 

  • I have to be fully present, take every detail into account and make quick, sharp decisions. 
  • I feel fully alive and become acutely aware of what I am doing and saying, and 
  • I have to interpret the meaning of what my client and other stakeholders are communicating to me in words, expressions, and tone. 

When I visualize what I mean by edge work, I think of skiing in the Alps along a narrow pathway where I have to ensure I stay on track. Lots of skiers (of various levels of expertise) are around me, some racing past me, others following right behind almost touching my skis.  The edge feels dangerously close, beyond which is a drop of thousands of feet. Not being a very good skier, this is both a frightening and exhilarating experience and this is how I often feel when working with my clients.  

I do this edge work with CEO’s and senior executives usually over a one year period - a minimum amount of time for the benefits to be experienced. Some of my assignments last over 3 years. When I became aware, some 8-10 years ago, that this is the work I wanted to do, I began declining other assignments that did not challenge me to stay on my toes!


Coaching on the edge

I believe I do my best work when it is ‘on the edge’ as I feel alive, full of energy and I know the stakes are high. I would like to explore in future posts what this edge work entails for my practice, and describe how it can create value for both the client and multiple stake holders in the organization.  

In this first case, I describe how I worked on the edge from the first face to face meeting. A detailed example that explores my approach to contracting, following a ‘chemistry’ session to on-board a senior business head (referred to in plural as they/their etc. to anonymise) who was joining the organisation. As part of their visit and orientation program, a meeting was arranged with me.

It all started with a delay

On arrival, I was asked to sit in a bare conference room to await this leader. After about 20 minutes an assistant came in and said, “I just heard that your meeting is going to start two hours later. I suppose it is best you wait here? I can bring you some coffee?”  I wondered what the reason was for the delay, but unfortunately the assistant had no further information. 

Whilst I was waiting I made two flip charts: [1] the first hundred days written down with the key focus areas and [2] the critical deliverables for success of a senior executive. It was part of my preparation of what I’d imagined, from other executives I had coached at this level, would be on their mind. I wrote the following: 

  • Assume operational leadership, 
  • Take charge of the team, 
  • Align with key stakeholders, 
  • Engage with the culture, and 
  • Build strategic priorities.

I had used these criteria successfully with other leaders. It seemed to align with typical thinking of what was important for success in the first 100 days. 

The initial few seconds of meeting

Finally the executive arrived, very self-assured with an open gaze and half smile, and said, “Oh I’m really sorry, my plane was delayed; and on top of it there were no shower facilities in the arrival lounge at the airport – I had counted on that after an overnight flight!” I raised my eyebrows and half smiled too in response. “So I had to go to my hotel to shower and get ready.” With that smile and twinkle in the eye, it made me feel a sense of lightness of let’s not take all of this so seriously! 

They then rolled their eyes and continued “and it took another half hour at the hotel to get my clothes ironed.”  I was a bit surprised at the level of transparency with the details of the delay, so early on in our meeting, and I found myself smiling back and making a quick connection to this person I had just met. It seemed to be a mutual feeling as it resulted with “I’ll cancel the first meeting after yours so that we will have at least 2 hours to speak and see what may come out of our discussion around coaching.”  

Perhaps, in this moment, I was a source of ‘lack of pressure’ and I had made them curious about coaching too.  I felt relaxed and my initial impressions were, “Wow, very self-assured even though they are brand new to this organization.


The first wave of value: Telling the client what I think they needed 

I began with a coaching question that had proven useful with most clients, “Well Okay now that we have two hours together, what would you like to get out of it that will make a difference for you?”  Instead, looking straight back at me, they quickly fired back with “I’ve travelled for 10 hours and I’m not sure I want to get asked many questions – you are the expert who has done this before, so what do you want me to get out of this time? ” 

I laughed, which is usually my way of gaining some time to think. I quickly processed what I knew so far since meeting, they are being straight and transparent, not playing the social game or following my rules. Rather than following a format of what’s normally worked I responded in kind, “Ok! From my side I would like to explore how we may possibly work together and the value it can give you.” And this was met with a smile, “that sounds like a great result for 2 hours.

And so I started by inquiring whether any personality assessments or 360s had previously been carried out. We tried to discuss those and it reached its conclusion when the potential client said, “Well, I don’t really put much weight on personality assessments – I have not seen the value add- I have taken a number of them and I do have some 360s.  The most important thing for me right now, is how I will get started in my new position and hit the ground running.” 

Great! I was now able to share my flip charts then and what they could focus on in the first 100 days.  The response was positive, “Wow! Those are great areas of focus – very pragmatic, which I like.”  I could tell they were thinking and relating to their experience. They began speaking about each of the criteria for success and as I explained what was behind each, they put their own context to it. They began to take a few notes and then said, “Can you send this to me?” I immediately said, “Sure, I’m happy to send this to you and adapt it based on our discussion.” And then shared more explicitly how they worked that confirmed some of my initial impressions, “I like things simple and straight forward; not too many models that consultants keep throwing around.”  

At this point, the conversation shifted into understanding further how leaning into the edge I was offering would work for them. “How does this coaching work? What am I going to get out of it besides talking to you and getting your advice?” I was about to respond with something like, it’s going to be up to you what you get out of it, which I know is also true, however, I made up my mind and stepped up with  “Well, that could be one part of it. Often people in very senior positions do not have anyone they can really talk to inside the organization, so being able to discuss the undiscussables and having a thought partner is very useful. In addition, from my experience and what clients have told me, getting real time feedback and suggestions can be invaluable.” They responded in kind, “As I mentioned I’m a very pragmatic person, so I like to know what the outcomes would be.” Here was the word ‘pragmatic’ again and I made a mental note of coming back to it to understand their meaning of this word and how it translated into their leadership style.

Meanwhile, I shared a couple of examples of specific outcomes that other clients had benefited from by working with me. It was through sharing this information and how they were responding, I said to myself, “I really have my potential client listening now!” and followed up with, “I have done several on boarding assignments with leaders taking on key positions and did you know that about 40 percent of senior executives who change jobs or get promoted fail in the first 18 months.” I smiled as I said this raising my eyebrows slightly and they laughed!  
Again, looking directly at me and said half smiling “Oh so you’re going to ensure that I make it past the 18 months? Is that the ultimate goal?” I said, “Well besides making it – thriving and succeeding is what you want, right? Well it could be. But I’m not in charge of that. You are!” 


The second wave of value: Trust evolves in unusual ways

Another shift occurred in our relationship, when they told me something that they had not shared with anyone yet in this new company, a personal situation that was going to make it even more challenging, than what would be usual for all senior executives, relocating their families to a new country.

Again, I was surprised by this transparency and openness, and in order to reassure them said in a serious tone, “The basis of our relationship, if we decide to work together, is trust.  So I want you to know that you can trust me.” Reflecting back on this moment, this is where I made a slight blunder because it was met with a rather serious look and response, “Oh I don’t work along the basis of trusting someone who tells me to trust them!  I will trust you. However, if you break that trust for whatever reason, then I will not trust you again.” I wondered about that and decided not to say more on that subject. Yet I appreciated that they were going to be direct with me, and were clearly setting their expectations.

At this point, we still had no ‘formal’ contract and there was about half an hour remaining. In that hour and half, we had built sufficient mutual respect and trust that they wanted to admit something to me, “I have not had (one important organisational function) report to me in previous positions; I would prefer to know in more depth about some of work they do -enough to ask the right questions and challenge them when necessary. Since I need to get up to speed quickly, would you know somebody who could help me?” I said, “Let me think about this. I could see you having a couple of sessions with someone who has this expertise, and whom you could ask any question to, so that you feel more comfortable and competent in your new context.” 

I gave them an example of another executive whom I’d worked with who was in a similar role and position. Every time he went into a meeting with people in that important organisation function, all the technical experts involved would smirk at his lack of knowledge of the sophisticated work they believed they were doing. What he did was to engage two experts from outside the company to come and tutor him for couple of months, so he felt comfortable discussing and asking the key questions.  I said, “This is quite normal, there are usually some gaps when one takes on a new role with a huge scope. Identifying these ahead of time and speeding up the learning curve is a great strategy.” 

In my way I normalized the situation without bringing any judgement to it. This allowed them to express that actually it’s just something that needs to be learnt, and in turn it allowed them, I think, to see me to be a great resource. 

Adding future waves of value: Getting into the organization provides big opportunities too

We’d explored quite a few important points when they started to share with me that they really wanted to know what their new organization and their executive team were actually like, because at this point, they had no idea. When they said that, I thought this is good because now I can do what I do best which is to get into the organization and talk to the people. That’s the only way I can support them to on-board quickly.


At the edge: Putting the contract in place

The moment had arrived where we started to seriously negotiate what my role as coach could be. It started with a suggestion of attending an offsite strategy meeting and facilitating that. I was now confident enough to suggest something else. What was offered wasn’t something that would help them make the most important use of my time and strengths AND give them the added value they deserved. And so I countered with, “I can facilitate your strategy meeting, however what I had in mind was to meet your team one on one to get an understanding of their context and what they need from you as the leader.” They hesitated a few seconds and then said, “Yes, let’s think about how we might do this so it can be useful.”

We finally reached the end of our conversation. In the normal way of ending such a session we shook hands, and left on a positive note, “This is great. Really nice meeting you. Thank you. Get back to me on a couple of those points that we discussed.

I did. 

I didn’t hear from them for several days and took a bold step to put a contract together. I sent the executive concerned a contract for six months and I roughly calculated I would spend about two days a month working with them. The contract contained the typical fees per day, and other relevant charges and, with the covering email, sent it through to them with the next steps. In the contract, I wrote based on our first discussion, these are the areas we will focus on: your first hundred days with a few bullets (after weighing up what’s really required). And followed with, “Anything else that you want to speak about within this package?” 

It was met with a simple response of, and awareness of my previous work with the organisation, ‘Send it to the appropriate person for processing’. I took it as given that this was the approval and contacted their assistant to ensure that it would be taken through the formalities of obtaining a purchase order etc. The assistant and I established a rapport as we communicated on this and turned out to be a key stakeholder because what followed was the challenge of getting our sessions scheduled onto their packed agenda. So I decided a different tactic. This is where many coaches stumble, I believe. 

I called the assistant again— and because we had established some rapport, they explained how busy this new executive was and how difficult it was to get on their agenda. I said, “You know what, this coaching is really important for them in the first six months to be successful in this new role. So please make some time on the agenda.” I made some executive decisions on dates together, and found out when the key meetings for the executive were and we scheduled 6 half day sessions at their office. 

After our second session, the assistant shared with me the waves of value I was bringing. “I understand that they need you – there are just too many things happening and after they see you, they seem a lot calmer and focused!  You are an important person for their well-being.

We were now off!


Reflecting on the waves of value from working on the edge

Taking the time to reflect on how I add waves of value really starts with knowing that I work best coaching on the edge. Breaking down what that edge is has helped me to realise the number of edges I am working with both psychologically, and physically to create the necessary conditions for that first meeting. 

  • Working with this client from the start what mattered most was those initial few seconds where we quickly processed a lot of verbal and non-verbal behaviours and made a choice of how we each responded, which provided the gateway into having a longer conversation that lasted two hours.
  • In every moment of our conversation the contracting process was happening, and this typically occurred when I had found the appropriate content for the conversation that resulted in them leaning into my edge. It is this connection that leads to the waves of value that I can bring to our working relationship. I can see this in the way that people offer and add detail that allows them to disclose something that is personal and important to them.
  • By continually finding and creating the right conditions in that initial meeting – where some approaches may work for some and not for others – it was my job to prove  that I was able to ‘add value’. Knowing where my real strengths lie, and when the right conditions and relationship had been created with the client, I was then able to confidently share and articulate the relevance and value of these strengths to them.

It can inevitably always feel like being on the edge - of uncertainty as making a difference, and creating those waves of positive difference involves doing things – differently. Yet, I realise how important it is to get small things just right to create these effects - often small ripples build! 

Question: How do you know when you’re working at your edge and making waves of value in that first meeting that leads to results?

To connect with K.C. Char

 K. C. Char has held leadership positions in international organizations for many years. For the last 15 years, K. C has applied this experience to advise, consult and coach senior leaders. K. C’s work draws from this rich experience, challenging clients to stretch themselves and find their edge, effectively leading people to perform at their best.
 

Having coaching conversations in organisations: focusing on the individual to move beyond stereotypes by Simon Dennis (guest)

It’s very easy to stereotype and generalize, and this becomes more noticeable when you’re working in a multicultural, multi-country organization because you’re dealing with people in lots of different countries. Without thinking through what it is you want to actually say, it can be very easy to blurt out, “Oh, you’re Belgian, therefore,” “Oh, you’re German therefore,” “You’re American, therefore.”

I attended a recent cross-cultural coach training program in Northern Europe and what fundamentally underpinned the whole programme was to question the relevance of stereotypes when you’re dealing with the individual who's there with you in the room, and there to have a conversation with you.

One of the exercises we carried out early on was to ask all the participants to think through the considerations with cross-cultural coaching. We wrote down all the things you have to think about e.g. technology, speaking slowly, avoiding acronyms etc. And then, a kind of light bulb came on, “Actually, we don’t. What we have to think about is the person in the room.” If the person in the room speaks fluent English and actually doesn’t mind us speaking quickly, and can — what is it you’re implying when you speak slowly?

By speaking slowly aren’t you just assuming they don’t understand you if you speak fast? More importantly it’s about speaking at the pace they can understand. 

And then came, “How are we going to take this further?” 

It was one line, “Treat them like an individual.” 

The answer was as simple as that. It was literally, ‘When you’re in the room with them, virtually or physically, just talk to them and listen to them and treat them like an individual, because they might not be anything like anyone else. They won’t be like any other person you’ve ever met’. 


Exploring further my approach to coaching in a cross-cultural environment

I think as coaches, we’re lucky. I think we are lucky in a cross-cultural environment because our natural instinct is to assume less and jump to fewer conclusions (rather than starting at a solution). I’m not going to jump to conclusions about why they’re wearing what they are or jump to conclusions about the way they’re responding to me, or not. What I am going to do is to ask whether they are struggling to understand what I’ve said? Are they struggling to pick up the nuances in the question? And asking more questions, and in particular direct questions in a non-assuming way, is something that a coach can bring to the situation. 

Are you struggling to understand or actually, is there something more to this? It’s this idea that as a coach, you’ve got the freedom and the permission to ask direct questions. For example, when someone appears to be upset by a particular situation or question, it’s normal to give them the appropriate space, a coach could also ask if it’s something else, (and I urge all the coaches to ask the question). “I noticed that when I asked you that question, you responded in this way. Why was that?”

Whereas many managers tend to say, “I noticed that when I said that, you shied away from me. And actually, I know that’s typical of where you are from, but I need you to engage.” That’s a huge assumption that the response was simply down to a stereotype. Whereas a coach could just ask the question, “Why did you respond in that way?

Being able to ask that question, and hear their response, is a great transformational piece for cross-cultural organizations. Understanding the difference between making a judgement and stating a fact as part of their training engages their curiosity to ask why. That someone doesn’t speak up in a meeting, is just a fact. The judgment is when you think that they’re not confident, just because it’s assumed that keeping quiet in meetings implies a lack of confidence.


Bringing ‘coaching conversations’ into organisations

Sometimes it’s necessary to be cautious openly talking about ‘coaching’ even though it happens all the time all over the organisation. For example, someone might pop over to my desk and start talking about some issues they’ve got or some challenge. And depending on the topic of conversation, I might say, “Let’s go have a quiet coffee somewhere” or we might just chat at my desk. I’ve always got my coaching head ready to engage, and I think that helps because people know that.

What I am conscious of, and there are many others who practice what I do, is that I don’t label examples I have shared as coaching either. And then when it comes to our Supervision Group and we’re asked, “So how much coaching have you been doing?” The response is typically, “Well, in the formal sense, I’ve only done maybe two or three hours since the last time we met. But actually, I’m having maybe 5 or 10 conversations a day, maybe 25 a week, which are ‘coaching’ conversations.” And so we train our managers in having coaching conversations, in having an inquisitive mind. 

This also forms part of a tiered view of coaching:

  • It starts with coaching conversations (with some very good basic training around coaching and mentoring for all managers), 
  • Followed by talking to them about what do they know about contracting, 
  • Before moving into the more structured form of coaching.

Thinking back to Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership, I agree that there are times and places when you have to be directive. You can’t do anything but — if someone’s put themselves in danger – you need to tell them to stop. It’s not difficult. It’s knowing when to be directive, too. The manager needs to work out the whole platter of stopping points in between being directive to asking them one or two pertinent questions that enable them to go away and work on the answer for themselves, it’s really managers who are having a range of coaching conversations that are showing an aptitude for extending the world of coaching. 

The challenge that then materializes is that we get a lot of managers wanting to switch roles and say, “I’m a coach.” Whilst the field works through professionalizing what is coaching it’s useful to use the current lens to explore some of the current perceived challenges.

Following “Coaching Conversations” training is just the beginning towards becoming an ‘accredited coach’. There’s much more to it, a wealth of training and experiences, especially around some of the basics like boundary setting and contracting. For example, someone may approach you for some advice. You didn’t actually give them advice, what you did was to help them explore options for themselves and come up with a resolution.

My response would be that the contract was kind of implicit in the question. However, if they wanted to continue that relationship with that individual, then it’s being more explicit and direct to say, “We want to then coach on a formal basis, we would then expect you to contract with them about outcomes and boundaries and all those things.” 


Reflecting on how having a mindset to simply have coaching conversations can break through stereotypes

There is a whole school of thought around cultural stereotypes, company stereotypes, corporate stereotypes, corporate cultures, (Steve Glowinkowski talks a lot about what constitutes corporate culture – and how it can be changed). There is a known bias that senior leaders tend to recruit people who are like themselves subconsciously, some experts recommend for a fully functioning organization to exist and thrive they require a bit of everything, so recommend using a simple psych assessment like Myers Briggs to test this. But from my perspective and experience this isn’t necessarily true. What you need to do is treat everyone as individuals and work out what everyone is going to do. Through co-operation you do create culture. 

For example, there are companies now like the BBC who recruit, first of all, based on you as a person, your ‘fit’, not on your skills. When they moved to Salford in the Northwest, their entire online portal was encouraging anyone from the Northwest to apply because they wanted local people. They said, “Go online. Do the tests.” All the tests were value-based asking simple things like, what would you do in this situation, if someone comes and tells you that one of their colleagues has been taking drugs in the toilet? How are you going to deal with that situation?

It was testing your approach to value.

And at the end of it and depending how you answered they let you know whether you’re a good fit, or not, for the BBC. If you are, then you accessed another portal which showed you which roles were currently available where there was a further screening process. Their overall argument is, “It’s much easier to train people in skills because you can retrain as an accountant or a financial controller. But if you haven’t got the right set of values, you’re going to disrupt their company ethos.”

As I mentioned earlier, having all managers have a coaching conversation mindset as part of the multitude of conversations they have every day is one of the ways we’re going to break down stereotypes and they will have an aptitude for extending the world of coaching. 

Questions for you: 

  • How do you have ‘coaching conversations’ in your organisation? 
  • Where has it worked best? 
  • What are some of the contexts where coaching conversations can be a limitation?

To connect with Simon:

Simon has over 20 years’ experience of service delivery and continuous improvement in a variety of roles and industry sectors. He trained as a coach and coach supervisor and as Head of Coaching at Fujitsu UK & Ireland he established a Coaching Community utilising internal and external coaches to meet the business need for performance improvement and provided a basis for establishing a coaching competency for the organisation.

He has continued as a coaching ambassador for Fujitsu, presenting at conferences and contributing to publications and professional bodies in order to promote the use of coaching for performance and particularly internal coaching as a valid and valued approach.

He is married with 2 daughters and lives in Manchester, North-West England.

 

“Do what You Say and Say what You Do” by Aubrey Rebello

In my 4 years of Coaching practice I have found ‘Time management' improvement as a common goal across several clients.

Most CEOs and Business Leaders work long hours; they are still not able to complete all what they had planned to do and this typically leads to frustration, health issues and disturbed family ties.

Prioritising and planning are obvious areas the Client needs to work on and this can give good results.

In India where I do most of my Coaching I have found that practicing one simple work ethic can bring positive results. I call this,

“Do what You Say and Say what You Do"


Sounds very simple but what is the reality? 

  • When someone is late for a meeting you get a call “I will be there in 2 minutes.” How precise? In reality it could mean anything from 10, 15 minutes to even 30 minutes.
  • ‘A Task will be completed in 10 days’  is rarely completed by the due date. When delayed, there is rarely given a delay indication with reasons AND a new completion date.
  • Sometimes ‘Task Completed’ may not mean full completion. For example,  only 5 out of 7 items in the task are fully complete. Rarely will someone say only 5 out of 7 items completed with the remaining balance of 2 will be completed in 3 days.

In India (and some other Cultures ) our habit for most of these times is to “Do not Do what we Say and we do not Say (precisely) what we do.

With that sort of work ethic, to get anything done thus requires lots of follow-up, we can never be sure of committed dates and the start of dependant subsequent activities!

End result is non value added follow-up work, delays, longer reviews and meetings, and lots of phone calls, mails and clutter.


Imagine how it will be if everyone in a team follows “Do what You Say and Say what You Do"

This work ethic will require that commitments are given after all aspects and dependencies of task completion are factored, and every effort is made to meet committed dates. Start with simple things like being on time for a meeting.

If committed dates cannot be met it should be conveyed  before the due date with reasons and a new date given. Gradually with better analysis of all factors that’s impacting the outcome slippage from committed dates should reduce. Any slippage, then, can only be due to dependencies on which you have no control or cannot be factored in accurately. 

Few Benefits that will happen with this work ethic are:

  • Follow-up (non value added) activity will come  to zero
  • Future tasks based on completion of previous task can be planned and scheduled better and projects completed earlier
  • Meetings and reviews will be shorter and crisper.
  • Increase in Productivity and Customer (internal & external) Satisfaction

Embedding “Do what You Say and Say what You Do" with my clients

Most of my Clients have been able to achieve improvements in excess of 50% in Customer Satisfaction, Productivity and Response Time by ensuring that they and their teams adhere to this work ethic.

This Work Ethic does not require anyone to work beyond his or her level of capability and improves a team or a group’s dynamic because it only requires commitment to completion dates, timeliness and preciseness in communication.  It can therefore be practiced by everybody: by the Expert, by the non Expert, by the “A” Graded Team members as well as the” C” graded Team members.

Old habbits die hard, and a Team Leader should explain the work ethic to his Team and regularly review whether the new work ethic is followed or not. The approach has to be top down with Leaders applying the work ethic first for everyone else to follow.

Sometimes there is intense pressure from Customers or from the “Boss” to commit delivery in a short time span. As a way out of the pressure situation some people commit to a time which they are unsure about. This should be avoided. It is better to bear the unpleasantness now and meet your committed dates. While Customers are not always expected to listen, Management should listen and give in where the explanationfor more time is reasonable. After all just like no baby can be delivered before 9 months some tasks may require more time than demanded .

Several  Managing Directors whom I coached have made placards and pasted them on each work desk so that their Team members keep in mind and practice this work ethic everyday.

With regular persuasion it will take 3 to 6 months for the Work Ethic to be part of a Team’s DNA .

I believe that this is one of the ‘Lowest Hanging Fruit’ for improving Personal Effectiveness that’s worthwhile leveraging.

Besides productivity, response time and customer satisfaction improvements, the biggest takeaway would be ‘dependability’. Everything that’s committed is delivered and occasional delays are communicated well in time. For any organisation particularly in Indian culture this would be a breakthrough step.

It would be interesting to know how Coaches in similar situations or other  work cultures might be doing this.

To connect with Aubrey Rebello:

Aubrey brings to the table over 40 years of rich & varied Corporate Experience as CEO, Director, and Business Head with Tatas & Bayer.

Aubrey has strategised & managed a major merger, was CEO of a large NBFC, & Profit Centre Head of a large Business. In all his assignments he has rapidly scaled up revenues & profits. In many areas he has also built up Structures & Processes from scratch.

Post retirement Aubrey continues as an Advisor to a Tata Company.   Aubrey is also an Executive Coach to several Indian & Foreign Corporates He is also an expert in Family managed Businesses serving as a Business Consultant & Mentor to Business Families. Having had Leadership Roles in different work Areas & Industries   Aubrey’s expertise is in Financial Services , Automobile Industry, Mergers & Integration , Materials Management , & Learning & Development .

Aubrey is an Engineer from IIT Bombay & a First Rank Gold Medallist MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. He is also a Certified Executive Coach - International Coach Federation & NEWS Switzerland. He has several hundred hours of coaching experience at the MD & CXO levels.

“What did I leave unsaid?” Coaching reflections from the well of unease by Alan Robertson (guest)

Extracting learning from ‘vague’ cases

‘C’ was one of the coaching cases which left me with a vague sense of unease. I’ve come to realise that this can be a reliable indication of a lesson to be learned. But I also know that you have to subject that vague sense to some hard scrutiny to extract the learning from it. 

So what does some tough retrospection have to offer in this case?

I find myself reflecting on the question: 

  • What did I leave unsaid? 
  • What did I not say to this coachee that I now wish I’d said? 

Reading the clues and signals during contracting

Here are the bones of the story. ‘C’ is big and loud. His personality is as colourful as the shirts that he wears, a stab of individuality in the rather reserved corporate culture in which he was then working. At the time of our coaching work together he was in a sales role, distributing complex products across a diverse set of relatively small country markets in Europe and the Middle East. While he had a share of some administrative support, he was essentially a solo operator, expected to nurture and pursue opportunities to grow his fragmented but emerging market. It’s a lonely role, but he was an energetic individual and responded to the challenge by throwing his considerable energy at it.

His coaching was made at his own request. The HR Department agreed to it, and one of his immediate managers. (He has two in this matrix organisation.) After meetings with ‘C’ and this manager to explore the purpose of his coaching, I drafted three objectives, which they and HR approve. The aim was to build his internal brand, profile and reputation. More specifically, 

  • It was to develop his capabilities to influence without having positional power, 
  • To win greater recognition from more senior stakeholders in the firm, and 
  • To present his business plans in a highly professional way.

In retrospect it now seemed obvious that ‘C’ was an outlier in that organisation. 

He needs to learn how to present his proposals in a way that will secure acceptance in this culture,’ his manager says. This was a clue in itself. 

The fact that he was speaking of ‘C’ in the third person while he sat with us in the same room at the time is another. 

C’s lurid shirt is a third. 

Being comfortable with being an organisational outsider myself – I have worked as an independent for 25 years now – something that I used to know has drifted off into my peripheral awareness. In memory I know that one has to have network, connection and acceptability to be influential and effective in a corporate context. In practice I have lost sight of just how important this is.

I missed the clues in this case. 

Consequently I failed ‘C’. 

I failed to do one of the things which an experienced coach should expect to be doing: catching weak signals and amplifying them to bring them to the coachee’s attention and hold them there

This is not about telling the coachee what things mean. It’s about making sure that clues and their possible significance are made loud enough and clear enough and for long enough to receive the coachee’s consideration.

Following through on the ‘agreed’ coaching objectives

At one level it seems all too clear what ‘C’ needs to do to tackle his coaching objectives. 

Like many ‘sales’ people he over-relies on one voice. He advocates. He pushes his case. And he pushes it to a fault, not perhaps with external clients, but certainly internally, arguing for support and more resources to pursue the business opportunities that he sees in his territory. ‘It feels like everything is a battle right now,’ he tells me. But advocacy is a battling voice, so it’s not surprising if it makes discussions feel like battles.

I asked him what feedback he has been given in the past about himself. ‘I’ve been told that I need to become more neutral and listen more.’ So we work on developing these capabilities. We do it by,

  • Increasing his use of articulation, 
  • Explanation through clear, factual exposition, and
  • His use of inquiry, asking questions to engage shareholders in his thinking by way of their own interests and concerns. 

I wanted him to learn how to lead and participate in a process of joint opportunity-spotting and problem-solving rather than trying always to talk people into submission and agreement.

Testing the real value of coaching

‘C’ is characteristically energetic about learning and applying these new voices. He embarks on producing two major pieces of written work simultaneously. 

  • One is his business plan and the rationale behind it. 
  • The other is an innovative paper on a new way of calculating client value and allocating resources. 

The business plan eventually runs to well over a hundred pages. It takes him several months to research, consider and write. In the meantime he starts to trail a draft of his much shorter paper on how to value clients with a few selected individuals in his division. He is able to have some informal discussions with two or three senior people. His initiative and ideas are well received by them.

Unfortunately in the process he misses an important window in the annual business planning cycle. This, at least, is not because I have failed to say something. I’ve already reinforced his managers’ message that the business plan should be his priority. 

‘C’ however is insistent that he is not prepared to sacrifice quality for speed. He’s determined to produce the most rigorous, innovative and persuasive business plan his managers have ever seen. When it is finally complete, one of his colleagues describes it as the most impressive piece of work of its kind that he has ever seen. But C’s two managers are unimpressed and will not put it forward for further consideration. They tell him bluntly. ‘You’ve delivered it too late.’

This rejection is a defining moment for ‘C’. 

Piecing together the missing clues, retrospectively

During the interim review of our coaching the two of them talk at each other for half an hour, without either yielding ground on their points of view.  One of his managers – the one who took part in the pre-coaching conversation – concedes that there is good work in it. But he keeps returning to the point that ‘C’ has failed to meet the budgeting window. ‘C’ argues that a good plan takes time to research and should be considered when it’s ready, whenever that is.

Afterwards I asked ‘C’ if he realised what voice he has been using. ‘Advocating,’ he admits, ‘but…’ and promptly does more, as he proceeds to justify himself and his behaviour. It’s another moment when, as his coach, I need to be the amplifier of the signal. What I should have said is that he had gone well beyond advocacy into preaching and that he’d got the reaction and the resistance which was all he could reasonably expect from all that relentless pushing.

Instead I asked him how he proposed to speak to his other manager. ‘I’m going to ask him what he thinks of the content of my plan and for his answers to the questions I’ve put forward in it.’ This sounds more promising, but that meeting – when it comes – turns out no better. 

His manager refuses to read the document. 

Apparently he merely glanced at the Executive Summary, made no further reference to it and then proceeded to tell ‘C’ what his plan should be. ‘So then what did you do?’ I ask. ‘We ended up in an argument,’ ‘C’ replies, with evident frustration.  This is where I should have pointed out to ‘C’ just how strongly his dominant advocacy voice still had him in his grip.

For his own development he might perhaps have been better served by being confronted with that feedback than with help in thinking through alternative strategies for engaging this second manager. Because, as it turned out, the second manager can never be engaged. He remains fixed in a position in which he will not examine or discuss the very substantial analysis or logic behind C’s plan, while at the same time both rejecting its conclusions and saying that ‘C’ must decide what he does next. 

It is a powerful illustration of how quickly meetings become unproductive if the participants talk at each other rather than entering into a conversation.

In the meantime the first manager, the closest person ‘C’ had to a sponsor, abruptly left the firm. In so doing he left ‘C’ effectively isolated and after a further painful six months ‘C’ too left the business. It was an unhappy ending to the story.


Extracting my learnings after some tough retrospection

Of course, we’d like all our coaching assignments to end well. But it’s naïve to define coaching success simply in terms of meeting the objectives originally set, when the real issues to be tackled often only emerge during the process. Equally, it’s simplistic to expect success to take the form of propelling the coachee’s career onward and upward, however gratifying that might be for a coach’s self-regard. These are heroic fantasies with the coach playing the part of the white knight. 

In reality each of the stakeholders in the process has to be entitled to a personal view of whether, to what extent and in what ways a coaching intervention has succeeded or failed.

  • C’s first manager, in this case, actually declared himself satisfied with the coaching. ‘I can see that he’s developed. He’s using voices that he didn’t previously have. It’s a more mature way of presenting a case.’ 
  • The second manager never gave a view. He was never invested in the coaching, perhaps – for whatever reason we can only speculate – never even committed to developing a working relationship with ‘C’. 
  • ‘C’ himself was positively pleased with his coaching. ‘I’ve learned to value myself more.’ And he acted on that self-belief. He left to become self-employed and to pursue his own business.

But just as the coachee and the sponsors are entitled to judge the process and outcomes of coaching, so is the coach. And in this case I recognise now that I missed some moments and some clues that I could have caught and held up for all of us to think about more deeply at the time. 

Part of the coach’s distinctive role as a transitory partner is to say things that might not be said by others whose candour is potentially compromised, whether by the need to preserve an ongoing relationship or by vested interest or by the blindness born of familiarity.

So what, in hindsight, do I wish I’d said to ‘C’?

I wish I’d pointed out that working for yourself can be a hard context in which to apply insights about yourself. Self-employment certainly provides freedom of expression and action and a correspondingly broad vista of learning opportunities. But it is also a context in which it is all too easy to remain stuck in one’s existing tendencies, preferences and habits. I could have joined the dots connecting my observation of C’s tendency to fall back into advocacy, a voice centred in self, and his intention to move into a context centred in self-employment. There was a potentially valuable insight to be shared, if only I had noticed it at the time.

But months before that, during the time we were coaching together, I could have been saying, ‘Where’s your manager on this?’ ‘Why did he use that expression about learning to present your business case in a way that will secure acceptance in this culture?‘ ‘Where’s your other manager?’ ‘And where are they now?’ If I’d been more attentive to the need to keep asking those questions, I might have served ‘C’ sooner and better.

I take two particular learning points away from this case. 

The first is the value of repeatedly asking yourself, ‘What am I not saying here?’  
That’s an explicit question that I am now bringing into my practice, a question to keep in mind not only during the coaching session itself but also in reflecting between sessions. It’s a hard question. It needs thought. 

But it directs attention towards the second learning point, which is to keep puzzling over the story. That leads you where you need to keep going, back towards details that you might have overlooked, the fragments of information that didn’t fit into the model or mental framework that you were working with at the time, the weak signals that need to be amplified before they can be accurately heard, the clues that reveal the deeper problems.

It’s a reminder that good coaches direct inquiry and challenge not simply at their coaches but also at themselves.
    
To connect with Alan Robertson:

Alan Robertson, Chartered FCIPD and Member of the British Psychological Society, has an independent coaching practice, Alan Robertson Associates.

He is also Senior Visiting Teaching Fellow at Cranfield University and at the Cass Business School in London, Director of Business Cognition Ltd and the co-creator and developer of the VoicePrint personal development tool.

alan@businesscognition.co.uk
https://letstalk.voiceprint.global