Posted by: Esther Groves, Sr. Consultant, TBD Consulting
In my last blog, I talked about how coaching isn’t just a feel-good activity. According to Gallup, coaching and related activities boost customer and employee satisfaction and ultimately profitability. Easier said than done!
The participants in my advanced coaching classes are dealing with a myriad of performance and personality issues that are, quite frankly, annoying, frustrating and sometimes scary. Scary? What is there to be afraid of? Well, for starters:
- How do I even begin the conversation?
- What if I don’t have the answers?
- What if the person I’m coaching goes crazy?
Been there… Brilliant as it may be, the coaching conversation I fabricate in my head is rarely the one that takes place in reality.
No surprise then that the person facing me is having some of the same anxieties.
- What if I say the wrong thing?
- What if I look stupid?
- What if my boss gets angry or goes crazy?
Which translates to “I’m scared because…I can’t afford to lose face / this job / that promotion.”
With all of that chatter going on in the background is it any wonder that many coaching conversations leave the participants confused, dissatisfied, and uncertain about the future? So, I’d like to step back to one of the tips from the last blog:
“After a short warm-up conversation that demonstrates sincere interest in the other person, set the stage for the conversation.”
Seems simple, but creating an open and safe environment where an honest exchange of information, needs and wants can take place is the first step to a successful coaching session and one that is often missed. Why? Because we’re busy and need to get on with the “real” work. Or, a certain familiarity has crept into the relationship that deludes us into thinking we don’t have to be courteous.
But, a bit of pre-planning can make a huge difference in the flow and outcome of the conversation. For example:
- Make the greeting unique to that person and listen for meaning in the response (“How are you?”… “Fine” we can all do in our sleep – get creative!)
- State your intentions and ask for the other person’s expectations
- Agree on the desired outcome of the session
Essentially, that step back to first focus on intro to the conversation builds the trust necessary to form long-lasting and successful working relationships and over time, dispels the fear (on both sides) that overshadows the best of intentions.