Added value of coaching Introduction Sometime in August / September 2011 I presented the next question to my network: Is it possible to write down, in a few sentences, your opinion on coaching? You may choose if it’s about being a coach or having a coach in a project, your job, your career or a sporting activity The response was enormous. I received one hundred and more answers. More than a dozen A4 pages of opinions, assumptions, values, tips, tools, methods, etc. ... I want to keep my promise to everyone who was willing to respond and with pride I share the summary of all this beauty. Prior to the summary, I would like to share a perspective with you. When developing my appreciative coaching workshop I was wondering how to get, in a fast way, as much reactions as possible on the added value of coaching. So I thought to myself: I have a lot of connections/friends in several networks. Time to put facebook, twitter, linkedIn etc… to the test! It was a great disappointment! I have more than 700 contacts in these networks and I’d only received 10 answers when I wrote and tweeted my question in my status/share box. So far for my more than 700 so called friends on Facebook, LinkedIn or other social networks. We like to think that we are super "connected" with the world. We chat, we tweet, we Ipod, we Ipad, we Iphone as if it is the bare essential of life. My reflection on that is that we never were shallower than now. It is not super connectivity but superficial connectivity...We expose ourselves on the net, make shallow contacts and get a real tsunami of “push” messages where we lose all in depth conversation. An example from the tsunami of shallowness. ... I have to pee, could be something like this… • • • • • •
Twitter = I have to pee (if it’s not bigger than 147 characters) Facebook = I peed 4square = I pee here YouTube = watch this leak LinkedIn = I pee very well (some even with recommendation) Share slide = peeing in bullets
Let us, please, bring connectivity there were it needs to be… between people and not in an exposition on a social network without any real in-depth conversation or contact. What worked for me was the individual approach. I send off 151 personal mails with my coaching question and received 122 answers. So, I want to pay tribute to my mailing network that has exceeded my expectations and surprised me by the depth and enthusiasm in their comments. Thanks X 1000! Mu advice is to experiment with the dilemmas of social or other networks and the power of personal contact. Let’s find a solution to call upon a widespread and divers network in a fast way and not losing the satisfying in-depth of the personal connections. That’s when networks will come to full force and serve the sharing of knowledge in a valuable and accessible way.
In a nutshell This summary has not the intention to be a complete book of rules or a set of procedures for never failing coaching. It’s neither more nor less an exchange of experiences and activities that have proven their value in de past. I discovered that coaching in my network is mainly about conducting valuable conversations where different opinions can coexist. Coaching is also about building real relationships relying on confidence, daring to take the uncertain path and work with an open framework for long-term success. Seeing the value of diversity and being confident that you are stronger as a team then an individual. Coaching is about connecting interests and creating a shared ambition. It’s about developing people, making them grow by asking the right questions and give them practical challenges that they can achieve. Make sure that there is a right balance between dedication and result. Let people customize their own process, draw their own course and reflect equally on WHAT and HOW the result is been delivered. This way, the trainees have to take up responsibility for their learning process and be the director of their own growth. The clustering You take upon coaching to grow within your working area (expertise), to be attractive for work you want to do in the future or to make a step up. No person or task is the same therefore coaching is always tailored to the individual, the team and the context. No task, person or context is the same. As a coach you will learn the most when you step open – minded in a relationship. This helps you time and again to ask curious questions and sincerely listen to what is going on and not (experienced – based) rush into the solution. Listen, truly understand and connect with the trainee. This is necessary to create trust and to build long lasting and valuable relationships. What is the value for coaches themselves? • Coaching can be a way of release, a welcome stimulus to the daily routine. • A long-term investment in yourself, others and a profit for both. What’s more to benefit? • Coaches keep on learning and growing. It keeps you sharp, young and involved. • Enjoyment of a learning process. • Inner feeling of pride when you see a trainee radiate. • Respect, recognition, friendship. • Self-confidence. • The value of coaching (for the organization) is that it will make learning efficient. YES this is what I want ... What do I need to learn? How can I create atmosphere, connection, reassurance? • Create an open atmosphere really get to know the values behind the person. • Work with different talents, discover and value them, learn how to use them. • See how potential can unfold. • Make clear agreements about responsibilities. (What needs to be done?) • Learn about weaknesses and minimize them. • Be a sounding board and support the decision making process. • Identify feelings, show a way to acceptance, understanding and give new insights. • Reduce pressure and find balance between stretch and challenge. • Provide confidence, security, make it safe to leave the comfort zone. • Remain objective, neutral and deal with your emotions. • Make the process meaningful.
Coaching is learning (concept formation, training, and practice) in a well defined period. It's all about the trainee and not a stage to show off as a coach • A coach will not perform the task ... He will increase the self-regulating capacity. (Make others self-sufficient) • Stimulates, motivates, and helps people continuously to grow and develop. • Bring someone in to the learning mode. • Uses processes that will help to facilitate learning and developing. • Offers a variety of exciting options and styles. • Is a role model. • Provides informal and formal knowledge transfer. • Coaches accelerate the learning process in the long run. How does it look like in real life situations? What does a coach do? • Bring something that is already good to the maximum. • Tackles complex issues and obstacles. • Brings action and motion in a stranded process. • Dares to ask for help of experts in his/her network. • Sets priorities and combines learning exercises with work that needs to be done. • Makes talent development a stimulating journey. • A coach gives you access to his knowledge, experience and network. • Provides real-life situations to go in to practice. • Keep focus on results and meaningfulness. Dilemmas in the coaching perspective… Is it about this… or…that o In a cooperative way (the opinion of everyone involved matters) define the issue that needs to be addressed and taking in to account the complexity and the whole environment of the questions you’re dealing with (holistic way). and / or o Analyze on facts , the expert is the boss, mark off the area (this what we do/don’t do) Keep focus on structure and objectivity. Split up the question in fragments. o Being the compass, providing direction and course, keep on track, pass on models and frameworks, tips & tricks, tools…etc. and / or o Allow uncertainties. Ask curious questions and experiment with the issue that could take you out of balance. o Set up a project plan, milestones, calculate risks. Use expertise and experience to take on new issues. Do everything in the logical and systematic way as we know it. and / or o New perspectives, thinking outside the box, dare to look beyond organizational boundaries, different scenarios, alternative ways of thinking, flexible and not holding on to beliefs.
Reflection (Ask the correct questions, active listening, in-depth questioning and summarizing) • Act as a sounding board on content (expertise), process and relationship. o As a colleague you collect feedback on the expertise. Make sure that you give access to your knowledge and experience. o Asking the right questions to start up the internal reflection. Make the trainee give birth to his own answers about him/herself. What are my beliefs? What is stopping me now? What are my values? What are my blind spots? o Encourage the trainee to look and reflect on the interaction with others (interpersonal – reflection) • Accompany the trainee in a reflective process of awareness, developing, maximizing, knowledge sharing and reflecting on each stage • Use bird-eye view to watch over the process, allow yourself to step away from the content, judge critically but soundly over process and content. • The goal of reflection is to coach and develop the trainee so that he learns more about himself, his/her way of working and his/her relationship with others. These experiences will provide him/her to get their own authentic story so that they can share it with other people (anyone can coach anyone). This is my interpretation of the answers I received. I hope it brings you some new insights or perspectives. Maybe it brings you some extra energy to keep coaching and knowledge sharing. Maybe you miss some things? Please share your thoughts. For me this exercise was very enriching and it created the fundament of my workshop and the reference book that I'm designing for appreciative coaching. The goal of this workshop is to connect the coach and the appreciative perspective and we find out what it means to have empowering relationships. Many thanks to everyone who wanted to share his/her perspectives and insights with me. Swannet Andre, January 2012 http://andreswannet.blogspot.be/
When developing my appreciative coaching workshop I was wondering how to get, in a fast way, as much reactions as possible on the added valu...