How to Make the Most of Your Coaching Sessions

Your company has engaged a professional coach for its leaders and high potentials and you are one of them.  How do you make the most of this investment in your personal and professional growth?  Here are a few tips to consider:

  • In the context of your job role and career in the organization, reflect on your strengths and areas for development based on past and present,  formal and informal feedback, from your superiors, peers, and direct reports.  Identify possible developmental goals you may want to be coached on by your professional coach.
  • Talk to your executive sponsors about what they see as your strengths and areas for development that they would like you to be coached on, Take note of where your and their perspectives may be similar or different. Ask questions to better understand the perspective of your executive sponsor and share your own views as well.  Ask about what specifically they would like to see change and improve as outcomes of coaching.
  • If the company invested in a 360 feedback survey as an input to your receiving coaching, learn as much as you can about the tool and what feedback were given to you by the people you selected to be your 360 respondents. Keep an open mind and receive all feedback as the gifts that they are, both positive and negative.  You may not agree with the feedback, nevertheless, that is how you show up to the 360 survey respondents.
  • Remember that our intentions do not always manifest in ways that others perceive them. Sometimes, if not often, there may be disconnects between our intentions and the perceptions people have about us and our actions.  Areas where there are huge disconnects between our self perceptions and that of others are helpful places to start our reflection on how come there are these gaps and what actions we can take, things we can do differently (e.g., start, stop, continue doing), to bridge these gaps.
  • Identify the initial top three priorities you need and would like to be coached on by your professional coach and build agreement with your executive sponsors about these.  If it’s too soon to have specific goals at the start of the coaching, that’s fine. The initial coaching sessions can focus on deepening your awareness and understanding of the situation you are in and what makes sense to work on with your coach.
  • Between coaching sessions, be sure to work on whatever assignment or actions you agreed to do with your coach, and learn what you can from these.  No excuses.  Being a more self-motivated and self-directed adult learner, you take responsibility for yourself. Keep a learning journal to write your questions, perceptions, ideas and insights that can help you move forward with your intentions and goals.

We are all always learning, and brain research shows that we continue to rewire our brains through neuroplasticity and nuerogenesis even as we grow more experienced and older.  (Bergland, Christopher, Psychology Today, 2018) (Bergland, Christopher, Psychology Today, 2017)

Are you behaving in ways that build or erode trust?

To say that trust is an important foundation of all successful and mutually beneficial relationships is perhaps an understatement. Trust is key whether we are talking about relationships between parent and child, husband and wife, friends, manager and direct report, consultant or service provider and client.

As we may all know, trust is easy to lose and difficult to earn. Trust can easily be lost as a result of one incident. Earning it back can take time and effort, and a strong desire and willingness to restore it.

How we behave either helps to build and strengthen trust, or erode and weaken it.  One useful little book that can help us assess ourselves and others on trust, and also provide a model and specific actions for building trust, is Trust Works: Four Keys to Building Lasting Relationships by Ken Blanchard, Cynthia Olmstead and Martha Lawrence.

Here’s a snapshot of The ABCD Trust ModelTM from the authors.  In a nutshell, we become more trustworthy when:

  • We are Able, meaning, we demonstrate competence and a high personal standard in getting things done when working with others.
  • We are Believable, meaning, we act with integrity, i.e., we are sincere, respectful and nonjudgmental.
  • We are Connected, meaning we show that we care about others by listening, showing empathy, and giving credit where credit is due.
  • We are Dependable, meaning we show that we are reliable and others can count on us.

Some questions to ask yourself if you want to do a bit of personal reflection are:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, how trustworthy might others perceive me to be?”  You can think of a specific person as you may impact different people in different ways depending on your usual behavior towards them.
  • How often do I  behave in the listed ways?”  In applying this question to each behavior under The ABCD Trust ModelTM, you can use the scale given by the authors:  H-Hardly ever, S-Sometimes, O-Often, V-Very often, and A-Always. Be honest with yourself in terms of the frequency you actually do demonstrate these behaviors.

ABCD.Model

How people perceive us depends a lot on our behaviors.  Often, there can be a disconnect between our intentions and our actual impact.  I am reminded of the adage “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” It is not enough to think that we behave in ways that show we are able and dependable. The question is what do other perceive about us?  Trust is a two-way street.

Take stock of your self-rating and ask others to rate you to see if there is an alignment between how you think you show up vs. how you actually do.

The nice thing about the The ABCD Trust ModelTM is that it can be used as a framework to talk about and work out trust issues in constructive ways. Check out the book to learn more about how you can build or rebuild trust through “trust boosters” and avoid eroding trust through “trust busters.”

Trus.Works

Giving Feedback to Develop Your Team

How often do you give feedback to your team and individual team members?  What type of feedback do you give them?  If and when you give feedback, are they mostly informal or formal?  Think back to last week and write down who you gave feedback to and whether it was positive or negative feedback. Giving constructive and actionable feedback can make a difference in improving performance.

Perhaps for many, the word feedback conjures up images of unpleasant experiences of one’s immediate superior dishing out negative feedback or criticisms about one’s performance.  It does not have to be this way.  If your superior is not very good at giving you feedback, break the chain or vicious cycle of perpetuating the negatives and demoralizing your own team and team members.

Be the team leader that fosters development. Break the cycle. Be intentional. Be the guiding light that sparks positive energy and action in your team. Everyday is a fresh opportunity to turn yourself and your team around, to refocus on performance and behaviors that can be improved through helpful feedback.

Some tips on providing constructive and actionable feedback involve changes in your approach such as the following:

  • Focus on the behavior and not the person
  • Be specific and not general: STAR is useful here – Situation, Task, Action, Result
  • Encourage change instead of attacking or blaming
  • Put your relationship with your team and team members first instead of yourself
Simple steps that you can use include:

  • Describe the behavior as concretely as possible
  • Get the team’s/team members’ view of how the behavior affects others positively or negatively, who are affected and what are the implications on performance quality and cost, as well as relationships
  • Give your own view of how the behavior affects others and the team’s performance
  • Get the team’s/team member’s inputs on what needs to change and how in order to achieve better results
  • Give your onw inputs including a description of the desired behavior and performance levels and outcomes
  • Agree on the next steps, who will do what by when, what support might be needed, and follow-up, follow-up, follow-up

Knowledge without application is a waste.  It’s time to put these tips and steps into action this coming week. Identify team members who have performance issues or dysfunctional behaviors that hurt their or their team’s ability to deliver their best.  Bullet point your specific observations and key messages, and schedule a feedback meeting with each individual. Better do it sooner than later. Start a new cycle, a virtuous cycle of giving constructive and actionable feedback.

Is Coaching and Counseling the Same?

No, they are not.  Some folks may, however, confuse coaching with counseling and this is not unusual. Both coaching and counseling focus on helping people deal with difficult challenges or issues. Both may also focus on helping an individual to change her behavior.  How are they different?

Counseling typically involves people who are experiencing some dysfunctional behavior or internal turmoil. Counseling is often focused on healing past wounds and looking for the cause or origin of the dysfunctional behavior. Going back to the past is intended to help the client get unstuck, to gain understanding on how the behavior may be causing problems in the present and the dynamics involved, and then to be able to move forward in making the change the client wants.

Coaching is for everyone. In the corporate world, coaching is often an investment made to help high potentials progress towards their full potential and prepare them for bigger challenges. In families and communities, it is for anyone who would like to have a “thinking partner” in pursuing her work, life, or other goals. Coaching has a future focus and aims to create a desired state, that is, the goals that the client wants to achieve. It focuses on helping the client clarify her goals, assess the present, and identify what steps or actions she will take to achieve her goals. It is more focused on the future.

The lines between coaching and counseling may not always be clear, especially for a client. What’s important is that the coach can ascertain whether his client needs coaching or counseling. And, unless the coach is also a trained counselor, the coach will refer his client to counseling.