In this final post of my blog challenge for #ICW2019 (International Coaching Week), I’m focusing on a potential downside of the coach-coachee relationship. Sounds like I’m ending this series on a negative topic, but it has its basis on the positive coach-coachee relationship!
When you work with a coach:
Thus, it’s not hard to understand why coachees may not want this relationship of mutual respect and trust to come to an end.
The risk of this is minimised by the process of coaching and the mindset of the coach. For example, a coach will be helping you
Useful questions to ask yourself towards the end of a coaching programme
Here are a few questions you can use to check your level of self-reliance:
Which other questions could you usefully ask yourself?
Of course, we’re always learning – about ourselves, our beliefs, what makes us tick etc. … and engaging in a new block of coaching on a different focus area can be useful without it being about over-reliance on the coach.
I think the key thing here is that your awareness is raised to the idea, and your purpose for continuing with coaching is about providing you with new learning opportunities, and your self-reliance continues to increase.
A coaching session without challenge is like having a pleasant conversation with a friend, where you comfortably discuss your situation without actually making any progress or achieving a solution.
At the 'soft squidgy' end of challenge, you'll feel positively supported although might not feel like you're moving forward. At the 'harder, tougher' end of challenge you'll be out of your comfort zone, significantly in the stretch or learning zone. You'll be discovering new things about yourself, some you may not like initially, but you'll realise how useful the stretch is, and you'll see progress.
Challenge for one person, isn't necessarily the same for another.
A skilled coach will be able to 'judge' the level of challenge suitable to you, your situation and how resourceful you're feeling in that particular session, so challenge can differ from one session to the next.
I've had coachees come to sessions having recently had a significant knock to their confidence. They tend to want a 'softer' start to the session. But I feel it's important to help them build a more resourceful state ... and I use the skills of listening, rapport building, appropriate questioning and feeding back pertinent and confidence-building observations, so they can be more open to challenge again, and continue making progress.
What I love most about being challenged when I'm in coachee role, is that total belief my coach has in me. They are there beside me, encouraging me to take a leap of faith, or believing what I want is possible - when I may be doubting myself.
These are behaviours I use to support coachees I work with too, and it's with this mindset that I see most progress with them.
When starting a new coach-coachee relationship, it is a good idea to ask your coach how they challenge. This not only helps to inform you, it also gets a potentially uncomfortable topic out in the open, making it more 'accessible' and easy to step into when you've hit an obstacle. Alternatively, you can trust and accept that challenge will happen anyway, and you'll 'go with the flow'!
A coach will challenge you in a number of ways, including:
Challenging you to go deeper
This is about delving deeper into your thinking around a topic / your goal. It can feel challenging if it's not something you're used to doing, or have been avoiding doing it for some reason.
Relevant Core Competencies from the International Coach Federation include:
"Asks questions that evoke discovery, insight, commitment or action (e.g., those that challenge the client’s assumptions)." - Re 6. Powerful Questioning
"Helps clients to discover for themselves the new thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, emotions, moods, etc. that strengthen their ability to take action and achieve what is important to them." - Re 8. Creating Awareness
Your coach will assist you in designing appropriate actions to deepen your learning and promote progress towards your goals. They will also be checking that these actions are within your control.
Coaches are realistic, and will accept that sometimes things out of your control can get in the way of you achieving actions following coaching sessions.
However, if the coach spots that you are developing a pattern of not taking action for things that are in your control, they will likely challenge this! If you want to avoid this, make sure you're honest about the actions you're choosing to do, and not just saying what you think your coach wants to hear.
In which other ways have you been challenged in coaching?
So how could you mentally prepare for challenge in a coaching session? If we go back to my initial statement at the start of this blog, challenge is an integral part of a coaching session so it should be expected. Preparing to be challenged is the same as preparing to be coached. I approach it from the perspective ... "I'm going to learn something new about myself today - and I'm going to enjoy that!
What would you say to yourself?
Whether you coach as part of your role in an organisation, or are an independent coach, how do you ensure that your coaching abilities are as good as they can be?
Do you have people or systems (or both) that help you review your ongoing development?
As a guide and starting point, I’ve listed below 8 ways to keep your coaching skills sharp – covering external CPD, internal reflection and coachee feedback.
Which do you already do, and what would you add to this list?
1. Practise the skills of coaching outside formal coaching sessions
This is particularly relevant if you don’t get to coach very often. You can still keep your coaching skills sharp by, for example:
2. Attend coaching supervision
With a growing appreciation for the power and benefit supervision has on our coaching practice (and hence our coachees!) supervision is becoming more popular and more in demand. Supervision can be 1-1 or group supervision. It can be over the phone or in person.
Supervision often involves a teaching or mentoring element on the part of the coach supervisor, always involves reflection on the part of the coach being supervised, and has a holistic focus on a coach’s development. I’ve always learned something new about myself, the coaching profession and how I run my coaching business when I’ve attended coaching supervision. It’s definitely a must for my ongoing development as a coach.
3. Carry out coaching self-reviews regularly
This involves taking an open and honest look at your own practice, and can include reviews of:
4. Ask your coachees for feedback
How often do you do this? What format does it take? How do you use it?!
I have found questions, such as those below, useful to gain a coachee’s feedback:
5. Keep a journal – record your reflections
I’ve been using journals more and more recently. I have different journals for different reflections: one for reflecting on my training, one for coaching, one for supervision, a gratitude journal, and one to record things I learn from reading coaching and other books.
One of the advantages of journalling is that you need to organise your thoughts in order to put pen to paper. This helps you identify the most important and relevant parts about what you want to say, as well as the most relevant next steps … the ‘So what?’ bit. They can also be useful to do a ‘dump’ of unhelpful emotions/feelings/thoughts, things that are tying you up in knots.
6. Join a coaching CPD / support group
It can be a lonely job if you’re the only one in your organisation delivering coaching, or you’re running your own coaching business. It’s a good idea to find (or create!) a coaching support group in your area to keep your motivation levels up, keep your skills sharp, and learn from other like-minded people.
Try a Google search for your nearest one, or if you’re in the Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire or Yorkshire areas, you’d be very welcome to come along and visit us at The 3 Shires Coaching Group. (Click here to find out more.) We’ve found that our best support and development comes from:
7. Attend CPD days (further training / conferences / webinars etc.)
This is different to #6, in that these are stand alone events.
8. Gather testimonials
This may sound self-serving, but it’s useful feedback on what’s working. You can then use this as part of your overall feedback picture. Often we focus on what we ‘need to do better’, and forget what we do well. By gathering testimonials, you will be making productive in-roads towards gaining positive external feedback.
Testimonials Tip …
Despite coachees painting glowing pictures of how coaching has helped them (particularly at the end of a session), and their willingness to write a testimonial for you, it may not materialise. They may have the best intentions to do this for you, but once the session’s finished and they go about their daily routine, the latter takes over and/or they may forget. Make it easy for them by giving them a starting point. For example, at the end of your programme of sessions with them, ask the following questions:
So what do you do to keep your coaching skills sharp? And which ideas from the above list will you use?
Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments box. Click on the comments link under the blog title :)
British public holidays. Like them or loath them. Apart from those friends and colleagues who are largely employed within the public sector and other customer facing services, the vast majority of the UK workforce have a paid public working day away from work. For many of us, public holidays can be an opportunity for rest and relaxation, for others, this can be a possible source of stress and anxiety that can involve travelling, or entertaining friends and family, or just simply catching up on those jobs.
How many of you build in regular daily or weekly time of more than 30 minutes for just you time in total silence? Over the last twelve months, I have developing my own personal practice where I build in meditation time or to journal and give thanks and gratitude. For me, this has had significant benefits.
Silence is an empty space. Space is the home of the awakened mind: (Buddah)
Several of my past clients have had specific goals in mind. On further exploration of these personal goals having looking at potential barriers to self actualisation, it became apparent that in many cases, a lack of time for self reflection played a big factor and inhibitor to achieving goals. Time for oneself can take many forms. Moreover, with the increase and constant exposure to various digital noise like Twitter, Face Book, WhatsApp, Instagram, emails, text messages, podcast, YouTube, and other mediums, taking a regular digital detox can prove beneficial to overall wellbeing.
7 benefits to silence
How do you build in quality quiet time to recharge, digital detox, and heal from all of todays 24 hour noise?
*Reference: World Health Organisation (WHO 2011)
Images Imagerymajestic: freedigitalphotos.net
Reflection is a type of thinking associated with deep thought, aimed at achieving better understanding.
You'll reflect within the coaching session (*reflecting 'in action') with the support of your coach, and beyond it (*reflecting 'on action') through your own reflective thinking. Both are useful.
Reflection contains a mixture of elements, including:
Reflecting in the session
The questioning by your coach, what they feed back to you, the 'coaching space' that your coach holds ... all encourage you to think and reflect, weigh up options, come to decisions, and so on. This will be supported through the trusting relationship your coach builds with you as you work together.
In sessions, reflections can be fleeting or longer. Your coach should spot when you need time to process and reflect on something for a bit longer.
Reflecting in the coaching session involves assessing ideas / options / solutions as you go along - identifying which are appropriate and which aren't.
Do you have a favourite question that helps you reflect on a tricky problem?
Reflecting beyond the session
In your coaching session, you may have learnt new things about yourself and gained new ideas for moving towards your desired outcome. But the learning can (and should) continue beyond the session.
Where do you do your best thinking?
I like to reflect whilst out walking, or make notes in a notebook. My notes will either be a free-flowing 'stream of consciousness', followed by a re-read and some developmental questions around what I've learned and next steps. Or I'll choose a model like the ones below to structure my thinking and creating useful outcomes to move forwards.
Reflective practice models
Take a look at the models, try one or both, research others, then decide what works best to continue your learning and development beyond the coaching session.
The 3 Whats**
This model centres on 3 questions: What?, So what? & Now what? (or What next?)
Re 'What?' ... Write a description about the event you want to reflect on
Re 'So what?' ... Analyse the event by reflecting on specific aspects of it
Re 'What next?' ... Identify actions you'll take based on your learning
Here's the model with some prompt questions to help with your reflection process.
Although recording isn't essential, writing things down will help you to organise and process your thoughts in order to decide what's most important and what you'll do as a result.
Gibbs' Reflective Cycle***
Here's the model with some prompt questions for each stage of the cycle. This model requires more critical analysis than The 3 Whats, and is more appropriate for a longer piece of reflection benefiting from a greater depth of learning.
In summary ... you'll be supported by your coach to reflect as part of the coaching process, but beyond the session - it's down to you to carry out any reflections.
How do you like to reflect?
What works best for you?
*Ref - Schon, 1983. Critics debate whether it's possible to distinguish between the 2 types, as reflecting in action, or 'thinking on your feet', is still after the moment of the thing you're reflecting on, albeit momentarily.
**This has been attributed separately to Borton, Rolfe, & Driscoll. Borton's work seems to be the originator of this model.
***Various sources, including: Gibbs G, (1988) Learning by Doing: A Guide to Teaching & Learning Models; FE Unit, Oxford Polytechnic
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