A dreamer, a realist or a critic?

I sometimes work with coachees who will come up with a strategy, and then immediately add the tag “that won’t work because…”. This focus tends to result in some great ideas and strategies never getting off the ground as a result.

The Disney Strategy was developed by the Neuro Linguistic Programme (NLP) practitioner, Robert Dilts. Dilts based the strategy on the approach Walt Disney used with his creative teams to support them to develop ideas. The underpinning concept is that, even if a person has a way of thinking that they find most comfortable, any person can consider something from three different perspectives and switch between them. The approach can be used with individuals, or with small and large groups.

The reason the Disney Strategy works so well in situations where the person is their own worst critic of their ideas is because of the three separate modes: Dreamer, realist, and critic. The strategy, even when coachees are initially sceptical, is effective in part because it also acknowledges a coachee’s perceived barriers – but not until they have explored their initial ideas.

The Dreamer mode is where I encourage all the coachee’s new ideas – the focus here is purely on (positive) creative suggestions and on invention. The sky’s the limit! Barriers and issues have no place here because they are acknowledged in the next two modes.

In the Realist mode I encourage my coachee to consider how to make their ideas work in practice. This is the mode where ideas become detailed plans (with milestones and timelines) that are likely to work in the coachee’s context because it integrates complexities.

The final mode, the Critic gives space for the coachee to look for flaws in their ideas and to identify what might go wrong. This mode helps ensure that the coachee ‘audits’ their idea, registers risks, and considers mitigations; it is a way of keeping the best of an idea – maybe using it as a springboard for a second idea – at which point the coachee and I would work through all 3 modes again. Alternatively, possible big picture fixes could be taken back the the dreamer mode and other two modes again if an idea still holds merit but has some apparent issues.

I carefully facilitate each mode, clearly defining the associated ‘rules’ and describing the modes. Shifts from mode to mode can also be signalled by different coloured items of clothing if the approach feels comfortable.

In brief the Disney Strategy provides time and opportunities for an idea mature and develop because:

  • My coachee can generate a range of ideas quickly, and cannot immediately jump on what they see as flaws, concerns or risks.
  • Idea / brainstorming spaces can be shared in advance of a coaching session to start the coachee’s creative energies flowing.
  • Using communication links between the dreamer and realist, and then the realist to critic, avoids the critic directly making comment about an idea in the early stages, thereby keeping the energy level high and positive during the dreamer mode.
  • The approach can break habits of constantly scanning for, and criticising, flaws in a suggestion, which can clear the ‘log-jam’ and allow ideas to flow more freely (i.e. less “that won’t work here because…”.
  • By working through one mode at a time, the dialogue remains focussed and is not undermined by the possible distractions caused by the other modes.
  • Ideas that have gone through the Disney Strategy are likely to be way more robust.

Image

Message stones. CC ( BY ND ) licensed Flickr image by: Roselyn Rosesline – https://flic.kr/p/eTzoib

Posted in All, Professional Learning Development | Leave a comment

What do you need for great goals?

Woman climbing through a windowCoaching has a wide range of definitions and approaches. One of the most prevalent understandings is that coaching comprises “a collaborative relationship formed between a coach and the coachee for the purpose of attaining professional or personal development outcomes which are valued by the coachee” (Spence & Grant, 2007, p. 185). Couched within this understanding is the importance of goal-focused activity with a clearly defined outcome. A person embarks on a coaching relationship because they are working through a challenge, or a goal that they want to attain, and they are looking for support to develop effective strategies and solutions (Grant, 2013). As such, a big part of development is setting effective goals that will enable a person to plan and identify clear directions to achieve their desired change.

Beyond the practical aspects of goal-setting, research indicates that setting and evaluating your own goals play a large part in sustained motivation and ongoing action, even in the face of emerging issues (Bandura, 1998). The process of associating attainment of stated (valued) goals with self-satisfaction has a direct influence on “how much effort [a coachee]… expend[s]; how long they persevere in the face of difficulties; and their resilience to failures … [and these contribute]  to performance accomplishments” (Bandura, 1998, p. 75).

There are several characteristics to effective goals … and some common mistakes. I’m now going to briefly discuss a few of them.

Challenging but attainable

Goals need to stretch you, but still be attainable .. within your stated timeframe. So, if you have never run a step in your life and are not in the best of shape, it is unlikely, for example, that you will attain a goal of winning a marathon in a month’s time. However, if you decide you would like to run a marathon in say, 4 hours, in a year’s time, and put together a training plan with milestone goals along the way, then you are likely to achieve it. So, a long-term goal, with incremental steps (and celebrations) along the way, and with enough challenge to keep you interested, is the way to go.

Specific and within a timeframe

A mistake that is often made is to identify a goal that says we will try harder, do more of something, or improve a skill. However – how will you know you are making progress, or have achieved what you have set out to without some ‘measure’ that will enable you to evaluate how you are doing. You goals should be as tangible as possible, and specify how many, of what, and by when. Using the example above about the marathon, if, as a sub goal you decide to run the Auckland 10km race in April in under 1 and a half hours, it would be easy to know if you have or have not achieved the goal. It’s not always easy to set such specific goals, but the more specific you can be the greater your sense of progress will be.

Positive

Sometimes it’s tempting to identify what we don’t want – things (emotions, behaviours, contexts) we’d like to avoid – rather than looking at what we do want. It is, though, way easier to actively set out to do or achieve something than it is to try to avoid doing it. Again, taking the example of the marathon, compare ‘I will stop eating biscuits until after I have run the marathon’, with ‘Up to when I run the marathon I will eat at least one salad a day, except for Monday which is my day off when I will eat 1 biscuit’.

Other things to include in effective goals

As well as the three key areas discussed above, it is good to also keep in mind the following characteristics of effective goal setting so that you include:

  • clear direction to attain your desired change,
  • clarity of priorities (which will inform your ongoing decision making),
  • identification of resources available to you (including people),
  • clearly stated tasks and activities that align directly with specific aspects of your goal(s), and
  • specific links to your performance and personal development

(Southern Institute of Technology, n.d., n.p.)

Even if you set effective goals, sometimes you’ll feel as though you aren’t making progress or that other things are derailing your efforts. At times like these it is good to talk with your coach to work through responses that will help you stick with your long-term goals, while maintaining your motivation – and sanity!

Terry Pratchett in his novel The Wee Free Men sums up the importance of goals as opposed to dreams as follows: “If you trust in yourself. . .and believe in your dreams. . .and follow your star. . . you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things …” (Pratchett, 2004, p. 21). Dreams can be incredibly motivating. However, you need to sit down and work out how to turn them into them reality, and setting effective goals is part of that process.

Image

Back in time. CC ( BY ND  ) licensed Flickr image by Hartwig HKD: https://flic.kr/p/6zXq7Y

References

  • Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V. S. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human behavior (Vol. 4, pp. 71-81). New York: Academic Press. (Reprinted in H. Friedman [Ed.], Encyclopedia of mental health. San Diego: Academic Press, 1998).
  • Burdett, J. (2005). The listening paradox. Organizational Performance Review, 7-9.
  • Castleberry, S., & Shepherd, C. D. (1993). Effective Interpersonal Listening and Personal Selling. Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, XIII(1), 35-49.
  • Grant, A. (2013). The Efficacy of Mentoring – the Benefits for Mentees, Mentors,  and Organizations. In Jonathan Passmore, David B. Peterson, and Teresa Freire (Eds). The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of the Psychology of Coaching and Mentoring Series: Wiley-Blackwell Handbooks in Organizational Psychology. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 16 – 34.
  • International Coaching Federation. (n.d.). ICF Core Competencies. Retrieved from http://www.coachfederation.org/files/FileDownloads/CoreCompetencies.pdf.
  • Pickering, M. (1986, Fall). Communication. Explorations, A Journal of Research of the University of Maine, 3(1). pp. 16-19.
  • Rogers, C R., & Farson, R.E. (1987). Active listening. In Communication in Business Today. Eds. R. G. Newman, M. A. Danziger, & M. Cohen. Washington C.C.: Heath and Company
  • Rothwell, J. D. (2010). In the company of others: An introduction to communication. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Salem, R. (2003). Empathic Listening. In Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Retrieved http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/empathic-listening
  • Southern Institute of Technology. (n.d.) Transformational Coaching and its outcomes (Module A) [Lecture notes]. Retrieved from CBC105 (NET).
  • Spence, G.B., & Grant, A. (2007) Professional and peer life coaching and the enhancement of goal striving and well-being: An exploratory study. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2, 185–94.
  • Whitworth, L, Kimsey-House, K, Kimsey-House, H, & Sandahl, P. (2007). Co-active coaching: New skills for coaching people toward success in work and life. Palo Alto,California: Davies-Black Publishing.
Posted in All, Professional Learning Development | Leave a comment

Blended Learning reviewed in New Zealand

Blender partsImage by groovysuvi via FlickrAn article recently published in the Computers in New Zealand Schools Journal, gave the details of a study that examined a teacher’s first implementation of online learning in a Learning Management System (LMS). The programme of learning was Home Economics, and the students and teacher are based in a New Zealand high school. The article, entitled The first blended or hybrid online course in a New Zealand Secondary School: A case study, lists some of the benefits of using a blended approach, including the development of ICT confidence and skills, enhanced interactions, and the fostering of independent learning with increased self management and higher order thinking skills.

Nigel Bailey, who is trialling a blended learning approach with his Geography students at Chanel College, and made the following observations:

“From my experience so far, and the results of the questionnaire that I put out to the students, I would agree with much of what they say in this article but there are a few areas that I feel I have worked through and am possibly in front of where this study has got to.

The need to scaffold the course varies by level (ie Level 1, 2 or 3) and also by the IT competence of the students. I have been amazed by the lack of working knowledge of some of the Office packages that some of the students exhibit so this re-inforces the statement in the article about us assuming that students are digital natives (a phrase that Prensky himself has now moved away from apparently!).

Screen grab - video 'Home'Image by hazelowendmc via Flickr

I have found that students are working at their own pace and own level and the course so far has been a great leveller especially for the less able or less confident students. Online questioning has been invaluable for some of these students. The ability to upload their work, have it ‘e-marked’ and returned quickly has also been a plus. I have found that I am marking far more work and in far more depth now than I have for years. This is partly due to the increased amount of work the students are producing and also partly due to the fact that I can read what they have written and have space to add a valid comment at the appropriate place in the text, which in the past there wasn’t room for.

  •  I agree with the positive outcomes stated and have my own evidence to support this from my students
  • The challenges faced are also very well stated.
  • Strategies suggested are also good for the growth of e-learning
  • The statement about schools having a professional responsibility to expose students to e-learning really rings true. Morally we also have this obligation as educators.
  • Students may be familiar with the ICT but they still need guidance in how to use it effectively and this is best achieved in a blended rather than fully OTL environment
  • I found it interesting that they were proposing the more practical subjects were best suited to blended learning; what is wrong with more academic subjects going down this route?
  • My results also back up the flexibility comments, but the amount of flexibility/freedom also concerned some of my students
  • Greater resource options is definitely true but again care is needed to ensure validity”
Posted in All, Design, Engagement, ICT Enhanced learning and teaching | Leave a comment

The Learning Powered School

21st Century educationImage by wlibrary via FlickrGuy Claxton today facilitated a webinar entitled The Learning Powered School. One of the first things he started by asking was why is it that the 19th century approach to learning and teaching is so ‘sticky’. He suggested that few people disagreed that education in some way needs to change, and proposed a vision that suggested 21st century education needs to help you people to learn to be open-minded and inquisitive, while also discovering their passions. They should also be encouraged to make and repair friendships, enjoy seeing different sides of a subject, and be unafraid of uncertainty. So, as far as the latter point is concerned this would involve the design of a curriculum that offers, regularly, experiences that are increasingly uncertain.

Guy cautioned against using the academic jargon often used in the writing of vision statements, which are as a result impenetrable and inaccessible to a large proportion of, for instance, government ministers. Values, he also feels should be relevant to life in general, not just for a test. Fancy language gets in the way of being taken seriously!

One of the key points Guy discussed was what does it take to so a 21st century education properly? He advised that eight core principles have been distilled from research:

  1. Broadening the core aims of education
  2. A vision that offers success for all
  3. A strong rationale
  4. Precise and accessible language
  5. Progressive change to school culture
  6. Focusing on teachers and teaching
  7. Honest self-appraisal
  8. Committed leadership

Leadership he advises will really make or break shifts in practice, along with clear, visible endorsement by leaders that reinforces objectives. The traditional education agenda, he argues, will not be changed without strong leadership.

Having an ‘and’ mentality is essential. People who are looking at assessment scores can also be looking at key competencies, but it is reliant on having a complementary set of ways of tracking the key competencies. The government is not stopping us changing by the focus on assessment.

The way in which education needs to change is on a whole lot of different levels. Where the issues are now are in helping and supporting, primarily teachers, but also students, teachers, and members of the wider community how change is going to happen and what it will look like. Where the world is now is moving from “vision to precision”, and it requires clarity around, for instance, the role of parents in their child’s learning experience. Clarity will help address misunderstandings and ‘fogginess’.

While I agree with much of what Guy says (in particular the ‘and’ instead of the ‘one or another’ focus), I did feel that there wasn’t really ‘anything new’ – there was no different strategy  to drive change,  although there was re-affirmation of some sound steps to take. From a slightly more nit-picky point of view, when did curiosity, risk-taking, building relationships, and being comfortable with uncertainty become 21st century attributes??? I’m coming to the conclusion that the whole focus on a 21st century learner is misleading – rather we need to focus on the process human development and the context and circumstances in which that happens most effectively. Although, I guess, much of the problem is the mammoth that is many education systems – and how to enable change in a environment that is often positively glacial.

Posted in All, Assessment, Design, Engagement, Future | Leave a comment

Why does Sara feel sick every Monday morning? Coping with dyslexia.

Do you know anyone who fits the following profile (taken from Danella Smallridge‘s Wiki)

  • Sara has undiagnosed dyslexia.
  • She is good at maths and art.
  • She constantly struggles with reading and spelling.
  • She had reading recovery at 6 years old and made some progress.
  • Every year since then, her literacy achievement has been slipping.
  • Her teacher thinks she is lazy and needs to “try harder.”
  • Last year her teacher thought she was just naughty.
  • Sara thinks she is dumb.
  • Her biggest disability is her low self-esteem.
  • She tries to hide her difficulties from her friends.
  • She would rather people thought she was lazy or naughty– rather than dumb.  (Source)

Danella goes on to say “The really complicated thing about dyslexia is – no two students will have exactly the same symptoms. Each dyslexic student will have their own unique blend of difficulties” (Source).

If you feel any of your students, friends or family might be dyslexic you are likely to find some useful information and sources of support in the resources Danella has compiled. On her Wiki she has advice around diagnosis, as well as classroom tips. For a way more extensive review of dyslexia and the way schools can meet the needs of dyslexic learners you can access a study that Danella researched and wrote up: Delving into Dyslexia (.pdf). An extract from the executive summary is quoted below:

The current cognitive and motor study conducted in conjunction with the Action, Brain & Cognition lab at Otago University, has found a consistent and significant difference in reactions times for dyslexic learners on a simple visual-motor response task. This adds weight to the New Zealand Ministry Literature Review on Dyslexia (2007) which states that dyslexia is more complex than merely a simple phonological deficit. Based on my learning from current research and the study of specialist interventions, help for dyslexic students must consider: early diagnosis and intervention; general classroom accommodations; specialist 1:1 teaching in literacy & underlying cognitive weaknesses; developing self-esteem through strengths; fine tuning classroom literacy teaching; using multiple memory hooks; addressing any sensory and motor difficulties; teaching social skills; and enhancing metacognition. Davis Dyslexia and SPELD NZ are both recognized providers of specialist teaching interventions for dyslexic learners. This study examines each in detail, and comments on observed strengths and weaknesses.”  (Smallridge, 2008, p.1)

Posted in All | Leave a comment

Access to the Internet appears to be one of the key sticking points

Access to the Internet appears to be one of the key sticking points for those students who are based in the lowest socio-economic communities. While this factor seems to be pretty logical, maybe it is less obvious that low decile schools and/or small rural schools would also struggle to access affordable high-speed Internet. Rachel Roberts comments “I know there are lots of issues around equity and access for RBI though I had never considered decile rating to be part of the digital divide …”, and shares Cost bar keeps fibre dream out of classrooms(written by Kirsty Johnston).

A couple of highlights from Kirsty’s post include:

Schools in underprivileged areas are struggling to benefit from the Government’s ultra-fast broadband scheme, with high prices and unfair distribution creating a rich and poor “digital divide”, Labour says.

Figures show the scheme remains behind schedule, with 176 schools connected to the fibre but only eight actually using the high-speed internet

Figures show there was a relatively even split between schools in rich and poor areas getting high-speed internet access. For example, there were about 45 decile one schools in the rollout so far, and 58 decile 10 schools. Wall said decile 1-3 schools should have been a priority. “Strategically, they are depriving children who live in communities like mine. The parents of my kids are more worried about putting bread and butter on the table than having internet.” (source)

So – what’s the solution? What have your experiences been? Ideas or solutions?

Posted in All | Leave a comment

Schools are technophobes? Your thoughts…

I took a couple of sharp intakes of breath while reading this article (Schools are failing our children simply because they are technophobes, by Allister Heath, that was shared by Mike Preece).

I certainly agreed with some of the broad statements (“universities…still mostly requir[e] students to study full time on location and pay increasingly unaffordable fees for the privilege of listening to often mediocre lectures”), as well as with the overall message that education, is in many cases, not meeting many of the needs of learners.

However, I admit to a visceral reaction when the author referred to problems with education as including “no automation, no economies of scale, no productivity gains” – which are surely terms rooted in business developments from the 19th century! Currently, many industries are returning to a small-scale, responsive model of working that has many more similarities to cottage industries than the huge behemoth of companies that are beginning to groan. Rather, for education, shouldn’t we be thinking about agile, responsive, individualised facilitation of learning experiences?

In addition, I felt there was a bit of a problem with the author’s suggestion that there is a direct causal link between “shockingly high levels of youth unemployment” and the provision of education that “suits neither students nor their employers”. Hmmmm – growing population, ongoing recession, diminishing natural resources, the growth of India and China as economic and business powers – maybe these also have some impact on high levels of youth unemployment?

Finally, the whole notion of “there is no proper transition from campus to office”: does anyone remember the graduate positions that used to be offered (and still are by some companies) to help with this transition? It isn’t purely the responsibility to education providers to smooth this transition; rather, I believe, it needs to be a joint effort that includes education providers, business, and wider communities.

At the end of the day, I suggest that progress for education is way more complex than “paving the way for a more competitive and open education market, allowing and incentivising schools to adopt technology”. What do you think? Please jump into the conversation….

Images:

Posted in All | Leave a comment

That feeling when you uncover that hard-sought insight!

Success has different interpretations, and not all successful coaching sessions will see progress toward a specific goal (A to B) or having developed a strategy or solution (Allen, 2013). Sometimes it can be a sense of the coach and coachee working together to uncover a hard-sought insight, which can feel as though “you’ve hit a home run and the crowd goes wild and your client feels as if s/he has won the World Series” [emphasis in original] (Allen, 2013, Para 6).

To help ensure that coaching sessions frequently achieve that home run feeling both coach and coachee need to be in the right ‘head space’. The coach needs to be authentic, genuinely interested in their coachee’s growth, open to feedback / self-reflection and willing to be vulnerable (Allen, 2013). On the other hand, the coachee needs to be engaged, open to sharing, enthusiastic, willing to learn, and open to coaching.

It is important to pay attention to preparation to make sure a session is successful. For example, the coach and coachee need to have agreed on a central theme that can be woven through the session. This theme should align with the coachee’s needs for the session, as well as raise really clearly their awareness of the value of the session – what they have heard, thought, seen, felt and gained (Allen, 2013). As a coach, therefore, it is necessary to both support the coachee’s learning during the session, as well as be able to ‘see’ the coachee’s learning, and help them recognise that it has occurred, the value of it and its application.

Sometimes sessions don’t flow and it is important that the coach moves rapidly to address the issue otherwise it can negatively impact the coaching relationship. One effective way of doing this is to explore, with the coachee, what just happened. Usually it will be one of two things – either the session itself (comfort with the process, a sense of purpose / engagement, rapport), or the coachee’s current context and experiences (level of perceived well-being, state of mind, or situation at work and/or at home).

You know when a coaching session has been successful when…

Before the session

Before a session the coach and coachee will have decided what they want to cover during the session, as well as agreeing on expected outcomes – and this may include engaging with an article or video, for instance, that the coachee has been working with in connection to a specific goal. A mutually comfortable space with the minimum of distractions will have been agreed on (and this may be online via a VOIP tool such as Skype, or by phone).

During the session

At the start of the session coach and coachee will have worked on building rapport, with the coach asking some simple questions to get the ball rolling. As the session progresses the coach will have asked carefully selected open questions to help the coachee unpack their situation, while also listening deeply and actively (for instance by summarising and paraphrasing to check understanding with the coachee). Remaining non-judgemental and non-directive (Haynes, 2005), the coach instead will have encouraged the coachee to explore options and make decisions. The coachee will have been open to formative feedback, supportive challenges, and a sense of ‘discomfort’ or dissonance, which is likely to have led them to insights into their own values or behaviour, as well as wider possible implications and impact on others.

By the close of the session the coachee will have a realistic plan of action, with specific next steps, intended outcomes, and timeframes, as well as a clear idea of who else will need to be involved, resources, and accountability. The coachee will have supported the development of the action plan and encouraged the coachee to check its feasibility, as well as offering assistance, if necessary (Haynes, 2005).

To wrap up, the coach and coachee will have evaluated the session and identified any ways to make following sessions more effective. The coach will also have summarised the main points of the session, and double-checked that they both know what each has agreed to do before the next meeting.

After the session

After a successful session, the coach will have taken notes (if they haven’t done this during the meeting), and will share these with the coachee. Both the coach and coachee will have followed through with agreed actions, and before the next session the coach, if requested by the coachee, will follow up on progress, provided support, and / or shared resources.

The coachee may also have reflected in writing on the session (either privately or via something like a blog post – following protocols of anonymity and confidentiality of others). In this reflection they might consider their satisfaction with the session itself, what might have made the session better, and how well it worked within the overall coaching process. The coach will also have evaluated the session, checking on how well the agreed outcomes and focus were covered, as well as the coaching process. As such, they will have reflected on went well (and why), what was challenging or frustrating, and how well they managed it. They will also have identified main take-aways and things they will do differently next time to help make it the session more effective.

When it isn’t successful

There are a range of elements that influence the success of a coaching session; all require input from both the coach and the coachee, and not every coaching session is successful. Some of the key reasons for a session to not be as positive as it might include a lack of an agreed focus for the session, an ill-defined focus, or differing expectations between the coach and coachee. Also, a coachee might be working through crises that are distracting them, or may be short of time / feeling pressured which impacts enthusiasm. In addition, the coach may be inexperienced, might mix approaches in a way that is confusing, or may appear disinterested.

The main thing is that the experience will be an opportunity to learn, and perhaps work out how to work more effectively together going forward.

References

Allen, L. (2013). Tips for coaches: What to do when clients aren’t in movement. Retrieved fromhttp://coachesfinishingschool.com/tips-for-coaches-what-to-do-when-…

Behavioral Coaching Institute. (2007). Establishing a coaching culture. Retrieved fromhttp://www.1to1coachingschool.com/Coaching_Culture_in_the_workplace…

Charan, R., & Colvin, G. (1999). Why CEOs fail. Fortune 139(12), 68.

Clutterbuck, D., & Megginson, D. (2005). Making Coaching Work: Creating a coaching culture. London: CIPD.

Crane, T. (2005). Creating a COACHING CULTURE – today’s most potent organizational change process for creating a “high-performance” culture. Business coaching worldwide ezine, 1(1). Retrieved fromhttps://www.wabccoaches.com/bcw/2005_v1_i1/feature.html

Hay, J. (1995). Transformational Mentoring: Creating Developmental Alliances. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Publishing Co.

Haynes, K. (2005). Ten tips for improving your coaching session. In ASTD Training and Performance Sourcebook. Mel Silberman (Ed.). Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) Press. pp. 135-137.

Hoole, E., & Riddle, D. (2015). The Intricacies of Creating a ‘Coaching Culture’. Retrieved fromhttp://www.talentmgt.com/articles/7627-the-intricacies-of-creating-…

Roesler, S. (2009). Four essential elements of a successful coaching session. Retrieved fromhttp://www.allthingsworkplace.com/2009/05/the_four_essent.html.

Southern Institute of Technology. (n.d.) Transformational Coaching and its outcomes (Module C) [Lecture notes]. Retrieved from CBC104 (NET).

The Open Door Coaching Group. (2012). How do I build a coaching culture. Retrieved fromhttp://www.opendoorcoaching.com.au/how-do-i-build-a-coaching-culture

Weekes, S. (2008, July). Catch on to coaching. The Edge. 28 – 32. Retrieved from http://qedcoaching.fastnet.co.uk/pdf/catch-on-to-coaching-ilm-edge-…

Image

Dancing Through Life.jpg‘ http://www.flickr.com/photos/90692748@N04/8836393352 Found on flickrcc.net

Posted in All, How to..., Professional Learning Development | Leave a comment

The eight stages to a successful coaching culture

When we learn something, we change. However, it may take several steps during a coaching session to help a coachee become aware that they have learned, and recognise the relevance and application of their learning, which in turn, can help them realise the power of a coaching session. While each coaching session will be different (Haynes, 2005), there are eight stages that are common to them all (Southern Institute of Technology, n.d.). The structure can help the coach and the coachee prepare for sessions, select and prioritise a focus for a session, and make the most of the time during a session by ensuring that the conversation doesn’t go astray. The structure also encourages regular evaluation of progress (meeting of agreed deadlines, and the results of the action plan), and process (how satisfied both parties were with the session).

The eight stages are:

Stage 1 – Rapport

Successful coaching sessions are, in part, reliant on the ability of the coach and coachee to foster a connection, which will help them develop the trust required to move into spaces that aren’t comfortable and to “explore what is true” (Allen, 2013, Para 18). To help (re-)build rapport it is useful to start is with a ‘what’s on top’ type questions that will check how the coachee is. This will also provide an opportunity for the coachee to share (or do) something that, before the coaching starts, might otherwise distract them.

Stage 2 – Evaluation of progress and main focus / goal for the session

The format for stage 2 depends on whether this is the first, or a follow up, coaching session.

 

If it’s the first coaching session the coach works with the coachee to identify their goals for the session by asking, for example, ‘what would you like to get from the next 30 / 60 minutes?’, or ‘what do you want to cover today’? (Southern Institute of Technology, n.d.). Where possible the goal(s) for the session should come from the coachee, but sometimes it may be the coach suggests a focus that can then be negotiated (or dismissed) by the coachee. The session goal should be achievable, unambiguous, and preferably easy to measure / evaluate.

 

However, if this is a follow up coaching session, the coach and coachee would revisit the agreed actions and outcomes from the previous session to evaluate progress. The coach might support the coachee, by asking open questions, to reflect on what they did and what happened as they worked through their previous agreed action points. They might also delve into what they felt worked well, what needed further work, and what, based on their main take away, they might do differently next time. This process can help guide a coachee to find out why something was (or was not) as successful as they hoped and to start to consider next steps, as well as helping to foreground details that they may not have been consciously aware of (Roesler, 2005). This process will also confirm the focus (and goal) for the session – the context for learning – and also establish the topic the coachee would like to move into first.

Stage 3 – Current reality

During this stage the coach will ask questions about what is going on for the coachee to help establish the coachee’s perception of their current situation. The coach helps the coachee reflect and evaluate without becoming side-tracked by the ‘story’ – something that can be worked on in follow-up coaching sessions if required.

The questions should be designed to encourage the coachee to identify what they have already done, to see patterns and progress, as well as to identify what is and is not within the their sphere of influence. Digging deeper into a coachee’s current situation can help provide information about ‘gaps’ (what isn’t being said – or recognised by the coachee) and connections that can help shape the questions the coach asks. Sometimes the coach will need to ask questions to untangle overlapping themes until a point of clarity is reached (Roesler, 2009). The coach may also recognise learning that has not be consciously noticed, and help the coachee ‘see’ the learning and how they might apply it (which can in turn help a coachee realise how valuable the coaching process is for them) (Allen, 2013).

 

The coach has to avoid taking responsibility for carrying out any of the actions or for the outcomes (Southern Institute of Technology, n.d.), although they may help with accountability (for instance, the coachee might ask to email them once they have completed an action).

Stage 4 – Finding a solution

This is sometimes considered the most rewarding stage for both the coach and coachee. During this stage the coach supports the coachee to find a way forward by helping the them consider their options and generate ideas for solutions to issues – without judging factors such as practicality. This will initially involve questions about what the coachee can do about their situation, if they want to do anything, and whether they need to do something. The coach can then encourage free-form brainstorming to collect as many creative ideas as possible, including some that may appear slightly ‘mad’ but that can end up starting a train of thought that can lead to a great solution. The coach can offer suggestions here especially if the coachee is struggling (Southern Institute of Technology, n.d.).

 

Sometimes this stage can be tricky, especially if the coachee appears to be focussing only on what is going wrong and why possible solutions couldn’t work for them. To help them move from this point a coachee can be encouraged, for instance, to imagine what it would be like if the perceived barriers didn’t exist – if this were an ideal situation for them.

Stage 5 – Choosing a solution

Part of this stage involves the coachee considering the options to identify whether any are appealing. The coach will then work with the coachee to evaluate each option to find a preferred one. Questions will be phrased to refine and prioritise the decision criteria, as well as to encourage comparison to select the option the coachee feels is best.

Stage 6 – Session evaluation

During this stage the coach and coachee check that they have achieved the result they agreed on at the beginning of the session, and if they are satisfied with the session. It may be that the goal for the session has not been achieved, and this will be the opportunity to discuss why and to agree whether to revisit it in the next session (Southern Institute of Technology, n.d.).

Stage 7 – Action plan

This is the stage that focuses on the coachee’s volition, desire and intention – and what they plan to do before the next coaching session (Haynes, 2005). The coach and coachee work together to develop a plan of action (1 to 5 tasks) including what the coachee will do before the next coaching session, what resources are required, and how progress will be measured. A timeframe is put together, alongside an exploration of the coachee’s motivation. The coach will ask questions that invite the coachee to think through what they feel will be most important to achieve, do, or prepare before the next coaching session.

Accountability for action should be built into the action plan. This may be as simple as the coachee identifying who they will tell about their intention to do something, which will increase the likelihood of follow through (Roesler, 2009). The coach can ask questions such as ‘Who else will you tell about this?’, and ‘Who else needs to be involved to help you accomplish this?’.

Stage 8 – Closing

The closing stage is where the coach summarises key points from the session, and offers feedback and acknowledgement (Southern Institute of Technology, n.d.). They will ask for feedback on the session from the coachee, especially around what they feel could have made the session better. This stage can highlight ways of working more effectively together, as well as things that are going really well.

References

Allen, L. (2013). Tips for coaches: What to do when clients aren’t in movement. Retrieved fromhttp://coachesfinishingschool.com/tips-for-coaches-what-to-do-when-…

Behavioral Coaching Institute. (2007). Establishing a coaching culture. Retrieved fromhttp://www.1to1coachingschool.com/Coaching_Culture_in_the_workplace…

Charan, R., & Colvin, G. (1999). Why CEOs fail. Fortune 139(12), 68.

Clutterbuck, D., & Megginson, D. (2005). Making Coaching Work: Creating a coaching culture. London: CIPD.

Crane, T. (2005). Creating a COACHING CULTURE – today’s most potent organizational change process for creating a “high-performance” culture. Business coaching worldwide ezine, 1(1). Retrieved fromhttps://www.wabccoaches.com/bcw/2005_v1_i1/feature.html

Hay, J. (1995). Transformational Mentoring: Creating Developmental Alliances. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Publishing Co.

Haynes, K. (2005). Ten tips for improving your coaching session. In ASTD Training and Performance Sourcebook. Mel Silberman (Ed.). Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) Press. pp. 135-137.

Hoole, E., & Riddle, D. (2015). The Intricacies of Creating a ‘Coaching Culture’. Retrieved fromhttp://www.talentmgt.com/articles/7627-the-intricacies-of-creating-…

Roesler, S. (2009). Four essential elements of a successful coaching session. Retrieved fromhttp://www.allthingsworkplace.com/2009/05/the_four_essent.html.

Southern Institute of Technology. (n.d.) Transformational Coaching and its outcomes (Module C) [Lecture notes]. Retrieved from CBC104 (NET).

The Open Door Coaching Group. (2012). How do I build a coaching culture. Retrieved fromhttp://www.opendoorcoaching.com.au/how-do-i-build-a-coaching-culture

Weekes, S. (2008, July). Catch on to coaching. The Edge. 28 – 32. Retrieved from http://qedcoaching.fastnet.co.uk/pdf/catch-on-to-coaching-ilm-edge-…

Image

Number 8‘   http://www.flickr.com/photos/49968232@N00/7707070620 Found on flickrcc.net

 

Posted in All, How to..., Professional Learning Development | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Helping people to change through active listening

Image of a man talking and another listeningOne of the abilities of a coach is the being able to listen – to try to understand another person’s reality, and how they experience and interpret their world. Active listening has been identified as an “important way to bring about changes in people” and an “effective agent for individual personality change and group development” (Rogers & Farson, 1987, Para 3).

Most people have heard of active listening; however, it is a tricky skill to pin down. Active listening (sometimes also known as empathic or reflective listening), is described by Salem (2003) as “a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding and trust” (2003, Para 1). On the other hand Castleberry and Shepherd (1993) see active listening as a “cognitive process of actively sensing, evaluating, interpreting, and responding to … verbal and nonverbal messages” (p. 36). There are overlapping aspects to each of these two definitions including (on an intellectual and emotional level) listening to:

  • focus on verbal and non-verbal cues,
  • check accuracy of understanding,
  • acknowledge what is being heard (and observed), and
  • respond appropriately.

Note that the second definition mentions “evaluating”. However, in most coaching contexts the listener ideally reserves their own opinion or judgement (Whitworth et al, 2007) and doesn’t try to change the mind of the speaker. The listener’s removal of their own agenda, and potential associated criticism, is an integral part of being able to “demonstrate a spirit which genuinely respects the potential worth of the individual, which considers [their]… insights and trusts …[their] capacity for self-direction” (Rogers & Farson, 1987, Para 2). It also helps signal to the speaker that the listener sincerely considers them worth listening to, and that they believe the speaker has something to contribute.

So, active listening in coaching is about you focussing on the other person and listening to what they are saying without interrupting them. It’s about using your own words to act as a sounding board and reflect back to the speaker that you hear their point of view. When someone is listened to, “they tend to listen to themselves with more care and to make clear exactly what they are feeling and thinking” (Rogers & Farson, 1987, Para 3). As such, you need to check your understanding of what has been said – or hasn’t (for example, the gaps and hesitations that reveal feelings and attitudes underpinning the words). This approach enables you to find out more and explore possibilities, as well as to establish real empathy, trust, and mutual respect.

Essentially there are three aspects to active listening: comprehending, retaining and responding (Rothwell, 2010).

  • Comprehending: encapsulates the notion of shared communication, and indicates that meaning will need to be identified, negotiated and acknowledged. The aim is to be attentive to what is being said, as well as to other verbal and nonverbal cues. Because there is often other noise, the listener may need to filter it out so that they don’t become distracted.
  • Retaining: Memory is an integral part of the listening process and is part of how we process sounds into meaning. Focussed, mindful listening are therefore essential, because momentary lapses in concentration (sometimes caused by visual distractions) can affect memory and retention such that you hear inaccurately, or have to ask for clarification or repetition.
  • Responding:  Both the speaker and the listener in a successful communication, are interested and active. The listener will be providing feedback that they are interested via noncommittal responses (e.g. “uh huh”), or short questions (e.g. “I’d like to hear more about that”). In face-to-face contexts they may use other visual nonverbal cues too. Depending on the feedback the speaker is receiving, there may be the decision to adjust the communication approach, or even bring the communication to a close.

Active listening is a skill on which you can work. It takes practice to listen and focus on what is being said without bringing in your own agenda. It is a skill that develops the more you use it, and is likely to need you to also reflect on your own underpinning beliefs. Is it worth the effort? In groups that use active listening people are likely “to listen more to each other, to become less argumentative, more ready to incorporate other points of view” (Rogers & Farson, 1987, Para 3). Also, those who develop their active listening skills are likely to establish deep relationships, while also positively impacting their own attitudes; truly a “growth experience” (Rogers & Farson, 1987, Para 3).

References

Castleberry, S., & Shepherd, C. D. (1993), Effective Interpersonal Listening and Personal Selling, Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, XIII(1), 35-49.

Rogers, C R., & Farson, R.E. (1987). Active listening. In Communication in Business Today. Eds. R. G. Newman, M. A. Danziger, & M. Cohen. Washington C.C.: Heath and Company.

Rothwell, J. D. (2010). In the company of others: An introduction to communication. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Salem, R. (2003). Empathic Listening. In Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Retrieved http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/empathic-listening

Whitworth, L, Kimsey-House, K, Kimsey-House, H, & Sandahl, P. (2007). Co-active coaching: New skills for coaching people toward success in work and life. Palo Alto,California: Davies-Black Publishing.

Image

In conversation. CC ( BY ) licensed Flickr image by Catriona Savage: https://flic.kr/p/6xEzVr

Posted in All, Professional Learning Development | Leave a comment