December 2013 Newsletter
Re-energizing and reviewing; where we are and where we want to be
I recently returned from a very inspirational conference (the Euro-Coach List conference) and now having taken some time to reflect upon some of the key themes that both speakers and all the other people I met involved in coaching were talking about, what struck me was the sheer enthusiasm and belief in what all of the speakers are undertaking.
This Euro-Coach List conference is held annually about 10 miles north of Bristol. There were sixteen main speakers, some of whom are very high profile and very eminent in the coaching field.
Over the years I have had the privilege of listening to Sir John Whitmore, David Clutterbuck, Angus MacLeod, Sue Knight, Aboodi Shabi and George Metcalf who have in their own way contributed to the development of coaching as a profession.
Upon return I like to explore and review the notes I’ve made and look back on the people during the conference to see if any were able to influence my thinking and update the way I go about coaching.
For me this year this was Magdalena Bak-Maier, who is a Neuroscientist. She led a session on how to encourage and focus your coaching using a platform that enables the other person being coached (as I can’t stand the word ‘coachee’) to explore a complete picture of where they are, what’s missing and what’s improving.As with many things it’s simple but has real clarity and depth of application. Her book “Get Productive” is full of helpful exercises and without pretence.
The key to working relationships
As an experienced coach I sometimes feel that much of what is expressed in coaching as the next best thing is really yet another case of the emperor’s new clothes.
I suppose what I’m saying is that coaching is as much about understanding and learning about myself as the people I work with.
Many of my coaching assignments have been to explore and help people who are experiencing difficulties of work. Some of these might be about their relationships at work, some about being able to achieve what is expected of them, and sometimes it’s just that they don’t have self belief.
For me, the key to getting these relationships to work is some careful and sensitive contracting, both with the organization and with the individual. This is the part of the relationship where I believe the most care and investment needs to be taken.
From the organisation’s point of view, they want something that gives them a benefit, something they can measure against; they want to see a result.
From the person’s point of view, often they just want the situation to be different.
The degree of clarity in terms of what that means often varies considerably. So for me, meeting with the Manager of the person concerned is very important, to get the organizational perspective, and how they see things at this time.The next step is for me to meet with the person who is being given the opportunity of having a coach work with them.
This is sometimes referred to as the chemistry meeting, however I think it’s a lot more than that. It’s about how we will work together, to have some form of connection in terms of how we are as human beings, but it’s also understanding and listening to where the person finds herself / himself.
Always look forward to these meetings, even if initially they might be difficult, as it’s an opportunity to be curious about how someone works. What gets in the way for them and how I can help them change from this position they’re in now to somewhere that is different and enables them to be clear about what they want, not only from the coaching but also from the role and what they want for themselves.
To me the chemistry session is an opportunity to see if the relationship will work, will the basis of trust be developed, and are both persons clear about what confidentiality means to them and the organizational and what is being signed up to.
During the session I offer some detailed explanation of what coaching is about, my background and my belief about what coaching is.
I then encourage the other person to talk about what’s important for them, what they’d like to get out of it, any concerns about confidentiality, the type of work and how they want me to be as their coach.
Most important of all is that they put themselves in the future, and coaching has been successful when they notice what is different for them.Contracting with the organisation, the manager and the person is like a game of Join the Dots; you never really know what it will be like until the last dot has been joined and as a very experienced coach said to me once, mind the gaps.