IoF National Convention 2014: Q&A on Developing Coaching Skills (Part Two)

I am thinking of hiring a coach. What sort of questions should I be asking of coaches? What should I look for in a coach?

  • What experience do you have and can I have a few references?
  • What qualifications do you have?
  • What kind of coaching approaches do you use? (reflective, challenging performance focused coaching, mentoring approaches etc)
  • What is a typical coaching session like, what does it tend to involve?
  • Can I have a free taster session to see if we can work together?

I think it can help to look for:

1. Someone you feel comfortable talking to and safe with, so you can be open, try to meet up with them and have a phone conversations before you buy.

2. A coach that fits the kind of coaching you want – some coaches are about target focused performance coaching; others will work more reflectively but not challenge so hard or often. Be clear on what your needs are and then discuss approach with the coach and ask for a taster session.

3. Someone who feels interested in working with you and not just trotting through some formulaic coaching model – a taster session will give you a feel for how much the coach is paying attention to you.

Where is it best to find a good coach – inside or outside the organisation?

 And insider can give you the benefit of someone with relevant contextual knowledge and they can sometimes be a part of moving things forward for you. It can save time as you don’t need to explain operational things to an outsider. It can also be easier to meet up and the coach could be more available to see you than someone scheduled to visit from outside. It may well be cheaper too. If you have some prior relationship, you also save time getting to know each other.

An outsider may give you a greater sense of safety and trust- you can be more open if they are truly not there with an agenda or reporting back to your boss. Outsiders also ask questions about how things work which can make you think and they can often lead you to explore new areas with a fresh perspective and challenge you. They will probably cost more than an internal coach but also may bring greater/different coaching expertise to the meetings, if your in house capacity for this isn’t extensive.

How can I deliver constructive feedback without feeling the need to overcompensate with positives?

 It works well to structure it like this:

Medal and Mission Feedback

 The medal feedback is something you did well and/or something you made progress with- the progress angle is important for maintaining motivation and building confidence

The mission feedback is something to do better or differently next time

In both cases, these need to be specific and ideally SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound)

I make it clear that we need a balanced, respectful perspective in feedback and can learn equally from the positive and the constructive points. In the mission feedback, I focus on the benefits of that change/ alteration for the team/client/customer so it doesn’t have the same critical or negative feel as backward looking, post mortem feedback (‘You should have done that…. You didn’t do this…. This wasn’t right..’)

This approach makes it easier to deliver feedback so I feel less awkward and tempted to compensate with too many positives.

How do you make sure you don’t patronise through coaching (in a line management capacity)?

  • Be selective about when to use it as an approach and when it will not fit.
  • Use your own linguistic style to create questions, to avoid sounding odd and inauthentic by borrowing coaching language from others.
  • Ask questions and want to know the thoughts of your team member. If it sounds insincere or like game playing, it won’t help.
  • Avoid asking very obvious questions that sound like you are just asking a question for the sake of it!

How do I stop myself jumping in with solutions when a team member comes in with a problem?

  • Find a physical reminder to stop you from speaking – I initially used to sit on my hands and had a post it note to myself on my pad snf my computer saying ASK!
  • Plan some questions that are useful starter prompts and then also ask additional questions spontaneously as you follow your coachee’s thread – consciously look at responses and reactions, to see which ones land and create deep thinking.
  • Sometimes you might need to give information or guidance so take a moment to consider if you do; if coaching seems like a more helpful approach, go for that one

More tips on part one of this blog:


This entry was posted in Advanced Practitioners, Coaching, CPD, FE, Feedback, Learning Leader, Management skills, Medals and Missions, Performance management, Solution Focused Approaches, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s