~ Marshall Goldsmith and Laurence Lyons, Authors.
James, one of my clients, is a manager in corporate. One of his many roles is to coach his staff.
Two weeks ago he asked me how to create a coaching environment over the phone. He has recently acquired a virtual team that presented him with communication and time zone challenges. He was worried that he’d not be able to coach his staff effectively.
Here’s what we discussed…
Helping others is a natural human motive and is stronger in some people than others and it’s especially important if you are a coach.
The quality of the conversation is EVERYTHING…
I believe that all coaches are motivated by their ‘desire’ to help others. The above quote summarises this perfectly for me (it’s also an awesome intention to set before any coaching session!). A great coach will authentically communicate this all the time.
(By the way, if you don’t buy into the quotation – You shouldn’t be coaching!)
It’s important to create the right climate and hold coaching space for every person you coach.
What do I mean by this?
Have you ever tried to impose your wisdom onto someone else?!
No matter how hard you try, you can’t change someone else – The other person has got to be open to the conversation and WANT to change.
Sometimes the mention of the word coaching is enough to make someone resist a conversation, especially in the corporate world, where coaching is imposed because it’s part of the manager’s job. This could be for many reasons:
- It feels like it’s something that is imposed and done to you
- There’s a low level of respect for the coach
- The person is resistance to change
- They have a low motivation to learn
- There’s a lack of understanding
- The timing is wrong
Some coaches fail because they jump straight into the coaching and try to drive through their own agenda. This creates lip service and resistance to coaching.
Here’s how to create and hold a safe coaching space:
Before any coaching session:
1. Consider your motives – What is the purpose of the session? What are you intending as an outcome? What do you want your client to do, be or have as a result of your time together? Get clear before you begin.
2. Who’s leading? – Who is driving the conversation? Is the session coach led or client led? Or a combination of the two? If you are the client’s manager, this might influence your approach.
3. Set the scene – It’s good to have a framework for the conversation. Signposting the way helps put your client at ease because they understand what is going to happen to them during your time together. If the conversation is client led, let them set the scene. What do they want to do, be or have as a result of the conversation?
4. The Environment - Choose a neutral environment, private and away from any distractions – other people, phones and computers.
During the session…
1. Build rapport – Be yourself! Create a natural conversation where the other person can feel comfortable and safe to speak. Set a relaxed and focused tone. Lead the way here. This will naturally guide you to the purpose of the session rather than jumping right in, “so what do you want?”
2. Lose your ego – Strive for authenticity instead popularity! You might be their boss, but you are both human beings and have the same level of value, worth and dignity. The client needs to feel comfortable and that they can speak freely. If you exert your authority as a manager, (or as the coach) then you’ll create an environment of compliance rather than engagement. Create a sense of leadership in the way that you navigate through the session without being controlling.
3. Be 100% Present – Make your client feel like they are the most important person in the room. Let go of your To Do List, emails and your outstanding challenges. This session is 100% about them. So be 110% present for them.
4. Be ‘genuinely interested’ in the growth and success of the person you are coaching. If you’re a manager and you’re coaching one of your team, you also have vested interest in their success – After all, they help you to achieve your goals!
5. Know the balance of when to help and how much to help is also important in the relationship. If the coach doesn’t act in a way that reflects a genuine interest in being helpful then coaching will be unsuccessful.