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?
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
Steady 'S' leaders and coaches are the organisers in the team. They will have a plan and see it through to the end, some people will refer to them as the starter/completer.
Here are the typical characteristics of a Steady S
Imagine you are having a social gathering or team meeting, the Steady S will be the one that arrives with the cake to share with everyone. They will be the one that organises the gifts whether that be for birthdays, anniversaries or leavers. It wouldn't be unusual to hear them say "Sharing is caring". In relationships they will seek harmony and potentially avoid the conflict situation unless they feel capable to use their skills to support a satisfactory resolution for all concerned.
Their greatest fear is loss of security and change. That isn't to say that they cannot adapt to change, just that you will need to give them sufficient time to process the change and be prepared to discuss the change without judgement.
Imagine you are in a group and someone gets upset, the Steady S will be the first to comfort them by putting an arm around them, demonstrating empathy and sympathy, wanting to listen to the problem and seek a solution. They are nurturing with their kind nature and can be viewed as the mother or father in the group. Mother Theresa pops into my head when I think of a Steady S character.
Questions you may want to ask yourself when dealing with a Steady S leader or coach
My top tip for engaging with a Steady S is MAKE ME FEEL SECURE & SHOW ME YOU CARE
If you want to learn more about DISC then I would recommend reading "Do it or Ditch it" By Bev James or "Empowering Employee Engagement - How to ignite your team for peak performance" By Claire Cahill. Both available on Amazon.
How clear are you about your role in the coach-coachee relationship?
What are you responsible for?
Whilst coaching is a fluid relationship without a hierarchy, there still needs to be clarity about the different roles and responsibilities of both parties.
Being clear about your roles and responsibilities makes for smoother, more productive and successful sessions. It means you can get any associated ‘admin’ out of the way at the start, and you can go into each session with the right mindset.
At the start of the new coach-coachee relationship, it’s likely that there’s an imbalance and the coach is clear about the respective roles and responsibilities whilst the coachee isn’t.
Clarification can come from:
Typically roles and responsibilities of coach and coachee include:
Coach Roles & Responsibilities
Coachee Roles & Responsibilities
What would you add to the items on these lists, based on your own experiences of being coached?
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