On being coached

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Coaching principles

On being coached

On being coached

This post is based on the assumption that you’ll value being coached as much as you value providing coaching. I have yet to come across a coaching manager who doesn’t appreciate the benefits of the learning partnerships that coaches and coachees form. You will find as many opportunities to be coached as you will to provide coaching and we need to consider what it’s like to be on the receiving end. This will help you get the most from a coaching relationship from a coachee perspective and also build your appreciation of the thoughts and feelings that the prospect of being coached can provoke.

Consider these reactions to the idea of being coached:

• The last thing I need is yet another person telling me what to do

• Coach me? They’ve been here half the time I have!

• I don’t need a coach, I can work this out myself

• I don’t want to progress, I’m happy as I am

• My manager coaches me whether I like it or not. I don’t get a choice

• What I am really looking for is a mentor to show me the ropes

• That’s great a coach will be able to find some good courses for me to attend

• The senior team get coached, so why shouldn’t we?

• Well I do need some help settling into my new role

• We’ve really got to raise our game if we’re going to meet target

• My career has ground to a halt. I don’t really know what to do next

• Well if it can stop me working all the hours God sends I’m all for it!

We can usefully classify these reactions in a kind of traffic light system. The first set – the red lights – are a stop signal. Our coaching will be meaningless until we acknowledge these misconceptions and take time to clarify exactly what coaching is.

The second set – the amber lights – allow you to begin to coach but we must again acknowledge that something is missing. Coaching may meet these initial expectations but we should take time to highlight the real benefits that it will bring.

The third set – the green lights – are your signal to get going. They represent the perfect backdrop to establishing a coaching relationship and I’m guessing, best sum up your own thoughts to being coached.

What then can you expect to happen as a coachee? You can expect your coach to act as a sounding board, an active listener and a co-learner. They will help you clarify your needs and bring focus to your goals. You can expect to be pushed and be given ‘homework’ but also to be allowed to make mistakes and learn in your own way. You need in turn to be prepared to be fully involved, to design the type of relationship you’ll have and decide when the coaching can ease off or stop.

We sometimes talk in terms of a person’s ‘coachability’. That is their readiness, willingness and ability to be coached at this moment in time. How would you rate you own coachability right now?

Team coaching. Some final thoughts

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Team Coaching

Team coaching. Some final thoughts

Team coaching. Some final thoughts

By way of summary to my last few posts, let’s round off with a number of ideas that you can put into practice straight away:

Devote some time to team development. In any meeting or get together of more than about an hour try to set aside some time or extra time to discuss team development. This does not have to mean fancy management games or self-complete questionnaires. A good, honest exchange of views will bring real progress.

Discuss the three stages of development with your team and ask them where they think they’re at. Next, ask them to list the things that could take the team forward and the things that might have it moving in reverse.

John Adair has suggested that the successful team balances the needs of the task, the team and the individual, ask your team where they think the balance lies and what needs to change.

Ask your team to list all the qualities of a high performing team and to then produce a top six in terms of what will be required in the future.

Ask the newest member of the team to review your induction process. They will have the most recent experience.

Catch people out doing something well and encourage all members of the team to do likewise.

Get some instant feedback on your leader ship style by asking team members to each tell one thing they’d like you to ‘Stop’, ‘Start’ and ‘Continue’

and finally…

…break with tradition. Stop celebrating success and analyzing failure. Instead take up celebrating failure – because of all you’ll have learnt – and analyzing success!

A coaching approach to team leadership

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Coaching Skills for Managers

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A coaching approach to team leadership

A coaching approach to team leadership

In the earlier post, The Qualities of a High Performing Team, we saw that effective leadership need not necessarily come from the nominated team leader. But working on the assumption that you probably are the leader in your team let’s turn our sights on how to combine coaching or team development with other elements of effective leadership.

Look for tomorrow’s problems and issues today

Good leaders tend to be alert, their antennae are permanently raised and they try to spot problems and opportunities early. Try to deal with problems when they are small. If, for example, team members are falling out – and this seems to be more than just the natural jockeying for position at the Assertion stage – intervene and restore communication. It won’t be easy and it won’t be comfortable but you’ll otherwise end up having to solve a much bigger problem.

Learn to adapt to change and turn it to your advantage

In the modern world of work, nothing stays the same. Your team will find the constant change frustrating and wearing and so will you. However you have to be the one to focus on the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. You have to be the eternal optimist and to see changes as opportunities rather than threats. Remember the team will model their reaction to change on yours.

Set high standards and clear goals

Before the team can align behind common goals as we described earlier, they must have common goals to work towards. Often it will be your job to create those goals. Ideally working with the team to create them, but being prepared to take the lead if there is disagreement or the process is taking too long.

Create a sense of purpose, so that individuals can believe in what they’re doing

In these modern times, people are looking from far more from their work than just a living wage. Teams need to believe that their work is meaningful and worthwhile if they are to give of their best. More difficult in a commercial setting than a charitable endeavour perhaps but every business process has a customer at the end of the chain. A person like us who must surely benefit in some way from us doing the best job we can.

Act decisively but not impulsively

Your team will respect you more if you’re prepared to take a position and stand by a decision. Sometimes your decisions will be wrong and you will have to clean up the mess. Other times you’ll be the hero. As long as you act in accordance with your values and can honestly say you believed you were doing the right thing your team will back you.

Practice what you preach

Have a clear view of exactly what you think it means to be a member of that team and then be that person before you expect it of anyone else.

Keep your composure at all times

‘Composed’ needs to be your default setting, unfair though that may seem. Rather than worry about times when it may be appropriate to shout and swear and lose control just don’t do it. Or at the very least, don’t do it in front of the team.

Provide an atmosphere of enthusiasm

Remembering that the team’s level of enthusiasm can never exceed your own.

Be sensitive to the needs of all team members

Finally, despite all this talk of teams, let’s remember that teams are just collections of individuals who’ll have their own unique set of characteristics, beliefs and values that you’re seeking to gel. Everyone has potential, everyone has a powerful contribution to make and if you coach them properly, make it they will!