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Before dashing in to coaching sessions, review whether this is best way forward. (Is going to gym only way to get in shape?) It could be that boss will benefit from having a mentor rather than a coach, or having some formal training to learn some specific skills. Should coaching be way ahead, boss, coach and any other stakeholders need to meet and agree overall aims of project and a number of other things to do with support and confidentiality. As part of this, probable timescale can be discussed along with actual method of working together.
The coaching phase will typically take place over several face to face sessions, probably supported by telephone and email. The key to this is to set really clear outcomes or objectives in first session. These can be short-term (even for each session) and for overall project. The boss is in control of this part in terms of setting their outcomes, although a good coach will push them.
The actual coaching sessions will keep boss thinking about what they can do to move towards their outcomes and objectives. The coach will offer a combination of challenge and support to push boss onwards. (Again, like personal trainer will do!) They will provide encouragement and feedback where appropriate. One of major pluses coach brings, is that they can be direct and open with boss when giving feedback. The boss generates ideas and chooses which ones they are committed to pursuing, with coach helping if they get really stuck.
As with any plan to get in shape, we all like to know what progress we are making. This is why we think third part of process can be started alongside coaching sessions – Personal Development Plan. Whatever actual method is for writing up or keeping plan, it can be developed throughout project. As progress is noted, it gives added motivation for continuing and stretching still further.
The key for sessions and plan are for examples of improvement to be noticed and noted. They can be discussed and reviewed to explore why they have been achieved and what payoffs are for boss, organisation and others around them. Wherever possible, aim to quantify these – still more of an incentive!!
As boss is getting into better shape, they need to know that others are observing it too! (Well, friends and family would tell you if personal trainer and exercise was making a difference!) How can they get evidence? The coach should encourage them to look for it. As with any plan to get into shape, there may be some times when things seem to plateau or go into reverse. Accept that this might happen, and use coach to help you breakthrough.
Part way through any project it is often a good idea to have a mid-point review with all concerned stakeholders. Even if this is just boss and coach – set up this session with no coaching activity on agenda! Review what has been achieved, benefits to all concerned, how does it feel for boss, and agree if there is any need to change for future sessions.
At end of overall project, there need to be some clearly identified deliverables. These should link back to outcomes and objectives set at beginning – with any new ones added! The on-going personal development plan will feed into this too. The deliverables can be both for organisation and for individual and their development. Once these are made clear, trick is to find ways to measure their impact or contribution to organisation.
Having got in shape, trick is to keep there! Going to gym or maintaining exercise routine is how we do it in that context. How does boss keep their new shape? Without working at it, there is a severe risk that they will slip back. Maybe they need to get some on-going support, with occasional contact from coach. Possibly, as a result of coaching, they have better self-awareness and will assess themselves and encourage others to give them feedback. Whatever they do, it is better for everyone’s health if they stay in shape!!
Graham Yemm a founding partner of Solutions 4 Training Ltd. He has worked with many different organisations around the world conducting both training and consultancy assignments. He is a Master Practitioner of NLP and an accredited trainer for the LAB profile programme – “Words that Change Minds”. Contact,