Archive for the ‘Coaching’ Category

Your values and how they impact on your work

August 21, 2013

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When was the last time you considered what’s important to you / what you value?

Values are what drive your decisions and your behaviour.

Values affect how you choose your friends, what hobbies/interests you pursue, and may also affect which jobs/car you go for.

Values are important because you use them to evaluate yourself and others.

For example, if one of your values is honesty, you are more likely to hand in a wallet you find in the street to a local police station. You are also going to get a sense of satisfaction from doing so, which makes you feel good. Hence, you evaluate this action positively. On the other hand, if you see someone taking something that isn’t theirs, you will feel a sense of discomfort and evaluate their actions negatively.

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Choosing activities that align with our values results in us feeling happier, more fulfilled and more comfortable in our own skin. If the activities we engage in don’t support our values, then we find ourselves in conflict. Many work-place relationship issues can be put down to conflicting values.

Organisations often promote their own values, although these aren’t always written down! An example here could be a workplace putting a value on people who work longer hours. This can promote inner conflict if you value a good work-life balance. Nothing’s necessarily written down, but people’s behaviour suggests it!

Within organisations, leaders will often lead their teams according to their own value systems. So if they are internally motivated and don’t require regular feedback on how well they are doing, their default position may be – they don’t see the value in providing feedback to their team members. For a team member who values, and is motivated by, regular feedback – he/she is likely to become unhappy, demotivated and perhaps disillusioned.

  • How aware of our values are we?
  • Do you know what your values are? … These can be different for different areas of your life, and there can be common ones too.

Working out your values

1. Divide your life up into areas. For example:

  • work
  • family
  • friends
  • hobbies/interests, etc.

2. For each area, list what is important to you. For example:

  • companionship
  • security
  • honesty
  • wealth
  • trust

3. Examine the list(s) closely and ask yourself if there’s anything missing. Do you need to add something? For example:

  • adventure
  • success
  • freedom
  • fairness

4. Arrange your list in order of importance. Ask yourself, “Is ‘A’ more important than ‘B’?” Or “If I had to choose ‘B’ or ‘C’, which would be most important?”

Follow-up …

Score each item on the list as a percentage in terms of how well that value is being met. For example, if success is important to you in the workplace, how successful do you feel you are currently with your role/tasks? 100%? … 50%? … 75%?

Any area with a low score is worthy of the question: 

“What needs to change to ensure this value is met?”

Types of Team Support

February 22, 2013

How do your team colleagues support you?iStock_000008062815XSmall

Support can come in all forms, and sometimes when you don’t expect it. A great team is mindful of its members, and can sense when they are ‘off par’ and either need time & space to sort things out for themselves, or need some form of support or intervention from their colleagues.

Colleagues therefore can play key roles in supporting team members from time to time.

“I get by with a little help from my friends”… famous song lyrics, as well as a possible team moto!

Here are a few of the roles team members can adopt which can support their colleagues …

1. The Cheerleader role

These are the colleagues who will ‘big you up’ when you’re feeling low. They believe in you, and are great at encouraging you. They’re good at picking you up following a setback and may do so by reminding you of your successes!

2. The Challenger role

This is when a team member questions your motives – but from a positive perspective. If, for whatever reason, you’re not focused on the job at hand, this can be useful for getting you back on track. This type of role is also useful to help you discover a new strategy when you’re stuck.

3. The Coaching role

You may be fortunate enough to have a teacher trained in coaching skills on your team. These skills can be valuable to help you identify internal as well as external resources to help you achieve work-related goals/targets. They give you time and space to think and will provide objective feedback … And, your conversation should also be confidential!

4. The Confidant role

These are team members you can really trust and are great listeners. They help you to offload, and usually have a calm approach which helps you to gain an objective perspective.

Which of these roles have you performed for your team colleagues, and which of these roles do you prefer your colleagues to offer to you?

Love What You Do #1: Get Clarity

February 6, 2012

To celebrate International Coaching Week I’ve put together a series of tips to help maximise what you do at work. This Love What You Do series starts today with Tip 1: Get Clarity!

[NB I write this series of tips in the context of the workplace, but you could apply most, if not all, the ideas to other areas of your life.]

One of the key factors in enjoying any job I’ve done is being really clear about my role. If I don’t have that clarity, it impacts on my motivation levels and my ability to apply myself successfully to the job at hand.

Key questions

  • So, how clear are you about the expectations of your line manager/colleagues?
  • How clear are you about your job description, and how this affects your day-to-day routine?
  • How do you know when you’ve achieved your targets? Have success criteria been set? What feedback do you get, or do you just know it inside?
  • What about when changes are brought in – are you given (or do you seek out) the clarity you need on how these changes impact on you (day-to-day as well as longer-term)?
  • What are all the different ways you could get clarity about your role?

Use these questions as a starting point to work on getting that clarity now to make 2012 your most successful yet!

(Photo credit: Jeroen van Oostrom)

I’m a qualified coach – why would I need my own coach?

March 14, 2011

I am an experienced and qualified coach, and yet I have my own coach. Why?

There are 3 main reasons:

  1. It keeps me on track with good coaching practice
  2. Having my own coach accelerates my progress
  3. It provides useful objectivity that I can’t totally provide for myself when working on challenges and growth areas

I’ll come back to point 1 shortly. Points 2 and 3 are valid reasons why anyone should have a coach. You can often ‘get there’ on your own, but it could take a long time and you could give up out of frustration or lack of belief it will happen.

You might argue that coaches have the skills and tools necessary to coach themselves. It’s true they have a certain advantage over those without coaching training, but I return to point 3 above, and state that you can be too close to the situation to really see it clearly. I find that coaching provides me with that objective clarity I seek to ensure a more successful outcome.

Over the course of my time working as a professional and personal coach I have employed 3 types of coaches:

  • A life coach – to help me with my ongoing personal development
  • A social media coach – to get me started on different social media platforms (she is also a qualified life coach)
  • A business coach – to give me clarity and focus in my business, through its changes and challenges

The first two have also doubled up as supervision coaches to ensure I maintain good coaching practices (point 1 above); and all have contributed to my own personal and professional development in some way. One of the most important aspects of quality control for my business is to continually develop my coaching skills, and regular supervision sessions are key to this.

There are a variety of coaches today, many of whom will specialise in a particular business/organisational sector or a particular development area, such as confidence building, stress management, or leadership development. When looking for a coach, it’s important that you choose the one that best serves your needs and who you can develop good rapport with quickly.

If you are a coach:

  • how often do you use the services of another coach?
  • what type of coach do you use?
  • what benefits do you find?
  • do you prefer 1-1 supervision or group supervision sessions?

A postcard from the future

March 9, 2011

If you were to send yourself a postcard from the future, say a year from now, what would you like it to say?

  • What will be different about you?
  • What will your business / career look like?
  • What will have changed about your daily routine?
  • What challenges have you overcome?

… And what does this tell you about what you need to do over the next 12 months?

Although you won’t know exactly where you’ll be, you may well have goals, plans, dreams, or desires; and this is a good starting point!

So imagine what you in a year will be doing, and consider what advice you’d give yourself to achieve what you’ve achieved.

Some examples …

Hi (your name),

Business is going great guns. My clients are loving my newly developed service! I’m much more confident about delivering seminars, and am excited about moving to new premises in 3 months.

My advice? Keep believing you can do it and continue to learn from those around you.

Dear _____

I’ve figured out how to deal with the communication issues at work! I’ve enlisted the help of an expert, who helped me identify why our current systems weren’t working. We now have really effective communication strategies in place, staff are much happier, and there are far fewer misunderstandings.

Advice? Don’t try to do it all yourself. You’re not Wonder Woman / Superman. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness! Learn from it and add it to your skill set.

Hi _____

Feeling much fitter and healthier, and enjoying a well deserved break! Changing my diet has given me a lot more energy, which means I’m much more productive both at home and work. It wasn’t easy, but having small targets spread out over the year was the key success factor.

My main piece of advice: Start making small changes now, and don’t be hard on yourself if you lapse occasionally. It’s all progress, and you’ll get there!

So what would your postcard say?


(Photo courtesy of Anankkml)

Coaching for Kids – Part 3

February 18, 2011

28 Day Blog Challenge – Day 18

In parts 1 and 2 I discussed setting and exploring children’s targets from a coaching perspective. For Part 3 I turn my attention to monitoring those targets, and do so through a case study.

I’m sure, as a teacher, you have established methods for monitoring targets: work scrutiny, observing children, questioning them directly about their targets, and so on.

From a coaching perspective, the monitoring and evaluation of targets needs to be guided by the coach / teacher, but owned by the child. This is about getting them to evaluate their progress through open questions and allowing silences (thinking / reviewing time).

The following case study comes from part of coaching pilot study with a Y4 child.

Background – The child was displaying disruptive behaviour in class and the school behaviour policy was not working for him. As a result, he wasn’t achieving his potential in class. Following initial 1 to 1 discussions about how he viewed his behaviour, and coaching him towards setting his own behaviour target, he same up with the following target:

“For people to want to play with me at break time”

Weekly sessions – We monitored this target by looking at how successful he had been each week with his agreed actions. These initially involved coming up with strategies to improve the likelihood that he would be asked to join in games (usually football), as well as thinking of ways he could ask his peers if he could play with them.

Progress – During one of these sessions he told me that he hadn’t had a good week. As I explored the reasons behind this he came to the conclusion that his peers weren’t playing with him because of his disruptive behaviour in class. He’d been displaying behaviour that he thought would make him popular, when in fact it was having the opposite effect. This level of self-reflection was key to turning a corner for this child.

From our discussion he then decided to come up with some strategies which would result in positive classroom behaviour, with the hope it would make him more popular. He came up with a 10 point list of ideas, and chose 2 each week to work on. As he started seeing success he chose more than 2, and momentum built from the positive results.

This coaching method of monitoring was aimed at encouraging this Y4 child to take ownership of his actions and regularly reflect on the choices he was making. Our later meetings would start with more “self-guided” reflection, involving minimal input from myself. He was monitoring his actions / outcomes, feeding this back to me and deciding on appropriate next steps.

As well as traditional teaching methods for monitoring, feedback from the class teacher in this study suggested that using a coaching approach had played a valuable part in involving the child more interactively with his target.

The value of silence

February 10, 2011

28 Day Blog Challenge – Day 10

Today I’m continuing the coaching theme for International Coaching Week, and looking at the value of silences.

What’s going on when people don’t immediately respond to a question?

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Whilst recently training a group of teachers in coaching skills, one of the toughest things they found was allowing silences in the coaching conversation. These are the type of silences that follow a thought-provoking question.

Typical behaviour was for them to jump into the silence with another question, or they would rephrase the question. When asked why, they responded with:

  • the silence felt awkward
  • I thought they didn’t understand the question, so I asked another one to help them
  • I thought the question was too hard for them, so I asked an easier one

In response to the last point above, I would suggest the question had probably been pitched perfectly, and was really making them think.

Allowing comfortable silences was something I also found tricky when I first started coaching, but got better at with experience. Now it’s usual, and is one of the key features of a good coaching session.

Silences are valuable thinking time

In our fast-paced world, we don’t often have time to really think about things, to reflect on our successes or what we’ve learned. Coaching provides this. Not just through the questioning, but also through the coach allowing silences following questions. This is when useful learning is taking place in the mind of the person being coached.

Asking great questions!

February 9, 2011

28 Day Blog Challenge – Day 9

Continuing the coaching theme for International Coaching Week, today’s blog discusses the benefits of questioning.

What makes a really great question?

Short answer: That would depend on the person being asked and the context.

Longer answer: Great questions

  • come from a place of understanding (from listening)
  • challenge the person being asked (in a supportive way)
  • elicit learning from the recipient
  • can consolidate and clarify
  • create those “Wow, I never realised that about myself” moments

Whether you’re a team leader or manager coaching a team member, peer coaching, or an external coach with your client, asking the right questions is part of the recipe for coaching success.

Usually, you know when you’ve asked a great question because it will result in:

  • a sustained period of comfortable silence – because you’ve made the person think
  • a response of “that’s a good/great question!” (It does happen!)
  • sharing of some new pertinent information, which helps the person make progress

So what have been really great questions you’ve asked your co-workers, team members, etc?

I think it can be hard to answer this without the additional background that puts them in the appropriate context. However, here are a few I’ve had success with ….

1. How do you know?

2. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

3. What’s stopped you doing more than you’ve done so far?

4. If you were an expert in this area, what would you do now?

5. What would make an excellent next question to move you forward?

6. What else?

Often the simplest ones are the best!

This is not an exhaustive list because I’m inviting lots of suggestions from you! So please add to the ones above using the comments box below. Thanks.

Also, I’d love to hear about the impact the questions had on the person being coached (or mentored).

(Photo courtesy of jscreationzs)

The importance of building rapport

February 7, 2011

28 Day Blog Challenge – Day 7

It’s very important for coaches to build rapport with their clients, and quickly.

In everyday life we know how it can be easier to ‘get on with’ some people more easily than others, hence the saying:

“People like people like themselves”

This doesn’t necessarily mean they need to share common interests, it’s more about sharing common values. In coaching, the aim is not for the coach and their client (coachee) to become friends, it’s about the coach enabling and supporting the coachee towards achievement of their goals. A key part of this is developing a bond of trust which, I believe, comes from having good rapport and an open/honest relationship.

Listening at a deep level is crucial to this process, and my clients regularly comment that one of the benefits of coaching is being really listened to.

As a coach, if you’re not in rapport with your coachee, and you need to challenge their thinking to move them forward, you risk losing the valuable bond you share. As a result, they don’t trust that the challenge is in their best interests, and you end up having to work hard to re-build rapport.

In my various coaching trainings, I have explored a range of methods for building rapport. But at the end of the day, most success in building relationships with clients has come from using intuition, instinct, listening at a deep level, and providing appropriate feed back.

How do you build rapport with people on a daily basis?

If you’re a teacher, how do you build rapport with the children?

If you manage a team, how do you build rapport with them? Is it different for each member?


(Picture courtesy of Renjith Krishnan)

International Coaching Week

February 6, 2011

International Coaching Week started today in the UK. It is promoted by the International Coach Federation and members like myself can choose to celebrate this in a variety of ways: delivering talks/seminars, offering taster sessions, doing demonstration coaching sessions, writing coaching articles for local press, etc. The ICF website shows a great range of ideas and starting points for coaches.

This year I’ve chosen to offer complimentary 45-minute phone-coaching taster sessions. My previous blog today (Help! I’m being coached!) suggested some ideas for how you could prepared for your first coaching session. The rest of this week’s blogs will be focusing on other coaching topics. Some will be more useful to coaches, others to anyone with an interest in personal development.

If you have a particular area of personal development that you like to read about in blogs, let me know in the comments box below, and I’ll see what I can do!

A few topical questions that I’d also like to ask here:

  1. What would you like to know about coaching?
  2. How would you like to see the coaching profession promoted?
  3. What kind of events have you attended in the past that have celebrated or promoted coaching?
  4. If you’ve had coaching before, what have been the main benefits?

Look forward to hearing your thoughts!