Coaching delivers the highest return on effort for behaviour and performance. It is an important leadership function.
A coach does not have to be the expert in the subject being coached, but must know enough about the topic to ask effective questions and have expertise in the coaching process.
All champions have coaches. Coaching is not only about fixing weakness, but also enhancing strengths.
Crucially, the coach must be respected and trusted before the coaching begins. It is the first important step.
If you are a professional coach assigned to a client, you’ll have had an initial meeting during the selection process and you have been trained and know how to rapidly build connection.
If you are a manager/leader and have elected to coach an employee, it is important that you have earned their trust and respect first. This is not always the case in an employer/employee or manager/team member situation. There may be an issue that requires resolution before a manager can coach a team member.
It may be that you cannot coach a person due to existing issues between you both.
In any case the coach requires permission every time coaching is intended. If it’s an established program, that permission is granted when setting the next appointment.
You must have a coaching plan for the person you are coaching. You must prepare, even if it is only brief and just before you coach. In that case, you’ll need to have at least an idea of the issues and possibilities.
Plan your coaching session using the CIGROWER model.
The CIGROWER model is a simple and effective coaching model that builds on the GROW model widely used by professional coaches.
C Connect with the person first and earlier, not just before the coaching, & rebuild rapport in the moment when commencing coaching.
I Identify the issue and why it matters.
G What’s the goal? How will we measure the outcomes and return on investment?
R What’s the existing reality?
O What options/opportunities exist to move from the current reality to goal achievement? Reminder for coach to observe.
W What’s the way forward? What’s the action plan?
E Execute the action – opportunity for coach to observe.
R Review and continue the loop.
1. Connect with the person earlier.
Get to know them on a personal level first. Take them out for a coffee to get to know each other as humans, regardless of hierarchy or client relationship. It is risky to plunge in, build temporary rapport and then attempt coaching. It may seem too superficial.
Some useful questions to ask:
• As your supervisor, I’d like to understand if there’s anything more I can do to help you. Can we have a coffee together to discuss this?
• Is there anything we need to sort out together?
• Are you OK?
• Are you OK for me to coach in this?
2. Identify the issues and why it matters.
Some useful questions to ask:
• What concerns you most about this?
• How is this impacting on you?
• What is important about overcoming this?
• How will you feel/be when it is overcome?
• How committed to overcoming it are you?
3. Establish the Goal
With your team member, identify the behaviour or performance that s/he wishes to improve. Then create a specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed goal (SMART). Test the goal against SMART.
These questions are helpful:
• How will you know that you have achieved this goal?
• How will you know that the challenge is resolved?
• Does the goal fit your overall objectives? Does it fit with the team's objectives?
• How will we measure the outcomes?
• How will we determine the ROI (return on investment)?
4. Establish the Current Reality
Now ask the team member to describe his or her current reality. It is a mistake to overlook this component as it is the place from which the improvement/enhancement must start.
Often describing this points to a solution.
These types of questions help:
• What is happening now (or who, when, where and how type questions to establish the reality being practiced)?
• What is the impact of this?
• What have you already tried?
• How does this goal fit with other plans?
5. Explore the Opportunities and Options
Assist the team member to consider the various possibilities. Help him or her decide on the best choices.
Unlike facilitation, it is sometimes appropriate for the coach to make suggestions, particularly if the team member is struggling with options. Never make the decision for the member – they must own it.
Here are some questions you can ask:
• What else?
• What challenges exist?
• What if that obstacle wasn’t there?
• What’s the benefit of this option, compared to that option?
• What’s most important about this option?
• If you choose this option what else would you have to consider?
6. Establish the Way Forward
At this point your team member will have an idea or a basic plan to follow.
Now it is important to obtain the motivation and commitment to follow the pathway chosen, being aware that it may need modification and to not let that slow or stop progress.
These types of questions can be asked here:
• What will be your next step?
• How important to you is that step?
• How will you stay committed and motivated?
• What obstacles could slow or stop you and what will you do about them?
• How and when will you measure and reflect on your progress?
7. Execute the Chosen Action
Agree upon the chosen action the coachee will take and gain agreement for the coach to observe that action when possible and appropriate.
Action the plan.
Coach observes whenever possible, appropriate and respectfully – remain an observer, do not interfere.
Review the coachee’s performance by debriefing as a separate coaching session, as soon as possible.
Here’s a sequence of questions you can ask:
• What happened?
• What worked?
• How did that feel?
• What would you do differently next time?
• How would you prepare to make sure your next practice will be the way you intend it to be?
• Here’s what I noticed…
• Does what I noticed help you see any addition you can make?
• What will you do about that?
• Should we now reset the coaching loop?
• What will be the issue?