That’s what we covered last time, we looked at a coaching approach. we looked at the importance of that coaching relationship and we looked at some coaching principles. The importance of contracting and how you’re going to work together with someone. Then we looked at those core skills, and then we had some questions. What I did last time as well, is I had a quick look in the chat and tried to think about some of the things that you’d mentioned, and then I’m going to bring them into today.
What we’re going to cover this time is how you structure a coaching conversation. Now, it’s not a linear, when I say structure, it’s not I do this, I do that, and I do this. What can be really helpful is having a little model and a structure to really help move somebody forward. I’m going to introduce you to, it’s a really popular coaching model called GROW. There are other models, so if you don’t like it, you can look for something else. It’s quite simple. I’m going to cover the basics of that. You’ve got a handout, which we’ll be looking at later. That’s for you to take away, and there’s some questions on there that you can try following the GROW model.
We’re going to do a coaching in action live demonstration. We’re going to see how that goes. The lovely Fi has volunteered – I’m not sure whether she volunteered or I said it would be a good idea. I did go out, to find out if there was anybody like to come for some coaching and there wasn’t a queue. I’m going to coach Fiona for 10 minutes, and just so you can see it. When you see it in action, just see what you’re noticing. Then you’re going to have an opportunity to go into small breakout rooms and work in small groups and have a go. It isn’t about doing, being amazing coaches, it’s just having a go with the questions and seeing how you find them. Then you can come back and see how that goes for you. That’s what we’re going to be covering this time.
We’re going to start with what we did last time, which if you remember this, I asked what would you like to be saying by the time we finished our session together today? It was that little technique from Stephen Covey, which was begin with the end in mind. I’m just going to give you a minute to grab yourself a Post-it note and a piece of paper. What is it that you want to be saying as you leave the session today? If you recall, it’s around focusing on what you do want to have happen, rather than what you don’t. It needs to be personal to you and possible, and again, in that present tense. I’m not going to share this, I just ask you to think, what is it you want to be saying as you leave today?
I suppose, my question first is, what do you already know about, has anybody ever heard of GROW? It would be great if you could pop into the chat. Have you heard of it? Are you thinking, what’s she talking about? Who’s heard of it? What do you know about it? Sometimes, there’s a slight variation called TGROW, and I’ll touch on that as well. It came from a guy called John Whitmore. It was developed in the 1980s. John Whitmore is one of the fathers of coaching, brought it into the, as I say, 1980s, when coaching was starting to become a little bit more popular.
It’s a really simple 4-step process. It really helps structure a coaching conversation or a mentoring conversation, or actually any conversation where you’re helping somebody to move forward, and you’re wanting them to be empowered to make the decisions and take responsibility rather than you giving the answers. As I said before, there’s other models. There’s something called TGROW, which is an adaptation of this, which I’ll touch on what the T stands for and how you can structure it. I thought it would be useful to break it down a little bit, to help you understand what it means. The G stands for goal.
These are some of the types of questions. Setting up that contracting, we were talking about last time, if you’re supporting someone over a period of time, they might have a longer, a bigger goal. If you’ve just got half an hour with somebody, then actually, sometimes, what’s the goal for the session? What do you want to focus on? Where are we heading today? What do you want to get out of our time together? These are some of the really great ways to open up the conversation. What do you want to achieve? What do you want to be different? G is for goal. It sets out where we’re heading and, again, gives a focus. A bit like we’ve just already done for this session, begin with the end in mind, what do you want to be saying together as we head in? It’s very forward-focusing.
Sometimes we find, in a career conversation, or any conversation, the conversation can go off on to tangents. You know one of those conversations and you think, where are we going with this? Sometimes, it’s a great opportunity to pause and say, okay, so we started the session, our conversation here, and I’m noticing we’re going here. Where would you like to go? It helps to really keep the structure of the conversation and give some focus and purpose. The R is really the reality of the situation. What’s happening now for the person? If it’s a career conversation, what’s the current situation? What have they already tried? What’s the challenge for them right now? What are they experiencing, what’s going on?
Getting people really clear about this is what’s happening now, this is what I might have already tried. Great, particularly if they’re stuck with something. Again, really opening the questions. On the handout, there’s some other questions that you can try. Another question, which I haven’t added on to here, is what’s the real challenge for you right now? That’s a really great coaching question.
That’s where the R, and that’s what the R stands for, so reality and what’s going on right now. Then the next part, the O is for options. What options do they have? What else could they do? Who else might know? You remember from coaching, that one of the things about the coaching relationship is to remember that the people that we’re working with, we have to hold them as resourceful. They’ll have the answers to their own questions or know where to find them.
Again, the what, and these type of questions, they might not know the answer themselves, but they might know who to go to to find that out. Actually, what you’re doing there is exploring options. One of my favourite questions is, what would you tell a friend to do? It’s really interesting what you can – what I’ve noticed in the coaching world, you ask that question, they’ll tell you right away! ‘I’d tell a friend to do this.’ You can challenge. What’s really stopping you doing that as well?
Again, exploring options. This is where you, we talked about last time, about when you’re offering advice, this is where you can give your advice, but always ask permission to do that. What I tend to do is explore options and if I’m going to add something, I say, ‘Would it be okay if I added an option to that as well?’ Then it gives them a choice whether that’s a yes or a no. The W is for win. What’s a small step you can take to move you forward? What will you do? When will you do that? What support might you need from me?
That movement and coaching is actually moving the person forward, to try and get them into some sort of action. Sometimes, in a coaching conversation, there isn’t really an action that emerges out of the conversation. One of the ways I sometimes, you can finish a conversation, is what’s been most useful about our conversation today? What are you taking away from that? If you remember when we did our first session, that’s what I asked you. What’s been most useful about the conversation today? Then what will they do? What are they going to do different and what support…? When I say support, what support do they need from you? That’s not you doing it for them!
Sometimes, that might just be holding accountability. I’m going to check in, I’m going to do that, and then I’m going to let you know that I’ve done it. That’s the GROW model. The TGROW, T is for topic. Sometimes, again, it’s a slight variation of the GROW model, but when you’re having a coaching conversation, the G, goal, is for the bigger session. You might be supporting someone over a 12-month period and that’s where you’re heading. The T is the topic, what are we going to talk about today? We talked about this last time, the power of open questions.
Audience comment: I took the role of the person being coached. I found the question “What would you advise a friend to do?” to be extremely powerful because it enabled me to put distance between myself and the problem
When you’ve asked a question, and it’s been powerful and it lands, you won’t get an immediate answer. If you don’t like silence, there’s a big danger of throwing another question in. That’s where when we talked last time about what I was noticing was what’s going on over there, that listening is actually leaving the space open to get, to leave that space to think. ‘What would you…?’ ‘I’ve no idea.’ ‘Well, okay, just let’s sit with the question.’
When you get that and you’re coaching someone, they say, ‘I don’t know’, ‘Okay, so what’s that like when you don’t know?’ You can use whatever comes back to get curious about that. ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Okay, is that something that you might want to take away and think about? We’ll try another question.’ Very often, in a career conversation, the answer sometimes is, ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Okay, well, I never really thought about that.’ What are you noticing right now about that question? Sometimes, when they say, ‘I don’t know’, I’ll say, ‘Well, shall we just sit with the question for a minute?’ Leave them a little bit of space to think about it. Does that make sense? You invite them to just sit with the question. ‘I don’t know, I’ve never thought about that.’ ‘Well, let’s just sit with the question.’ Then just move on if it’s, see what… Something will probably pop up.
Q. How do we coach someone if there’s not much rapport between us? The person we’re trying to coach may not feel comfortable having these kinds of conversations with their Line Manager
Coaching works on the coaching relationship, that’s where the magic happens, and sometimes, we work with people that we don’t get on too well with. Actually, within that, these type of conversations will work where there’s a safety and a trust with somebody, when we’re coaching, when we’re true coaching. I suppose, the place where I would shine the light is what needs to happen in that relationship for you to have some sort of relationship? It might not be your deepest, darkest secrets, but how are you going to work together with somebody that maybe you just don’t have that connection with? I don’t know whether that answers the question, but I think that’s the reality of it.
Even as a coach, sometimes, so one of the things – and again, we don’t always have the luxury of this – but one of the things that, as a coach, I’ll always meet the person. You can’t do this when somebody’s working with you, but sometimes, I know that I’ll work with somebody, I get a choice whether I work with them or not. Sometimes, I might have worked in the past with someone and I don’t get that connection. I can’t get in. Actually, I just have to meet them where they are. If they’re not going to let me in or we haven’t got this connection or I can’t get, it’s kind of like, that’s not, I can’t work, I can’t take somebody or help them get where they want to if it’s not going to be together.
Q. What should we do if we have a difficult relationship with the person we’re coaching?
I use two questions for that. What do you think works, even with those really difficult relationships, what works really well for you about our relationship? They go, ‘Eh?!’ ‘Actually, what would work even better? What would work better for you?’ ‘I don’t know, I’ve never thought about that.’ It’s not like what’s gone wrong, it’s what would work better for you?
It’s amazing what comes out of that question. I’ve heard things like, ‘I feel like sometimes I’m being micro-managed’, or, ‘You ask too many questions’, or, ‘You’re in my space’, or whatever. I’ve sometimes asked, ‘A time in the past when you’ve had a great working relationship with someone, what’s been happening?’ It gives you more information about what’s going on in their world. Sometimes, again, with power dynamics and things, people don’t feel safe to share and all that stuff that goes on, which you’re not there to solve, but it’s the reality of it. It’s a gentle way to get more information about what’s going on for that person.
Q. How can we stop ourselves immediately trying to solve any problems that are mentioned during the coaching session?
I call it an internal rescuer. We all want to help, don’t we, and fix. I say there’s almost a position, so somebody comes up with a challenge and we’re in there, aren’t we, all like this, almost already. There’s a great little technique that I use, especially, I do it more on Zoom, but I hear the problem and I notice that I want to lean in. Actually, it’s leaning out. If you notice that you’re leaning in, one of the things I’ll do is I’ll clasp my hands like this and keep them on my belly.
It’s much harder to lean forward when you’re pushing yourself back! In coaching, we call it leaning out. If you notice you’re leaning in, wanting to fix, lean back out. Leave them to sort their things. How are we managing ourselves in this? That comes with practise, asking more questions. We’re not saying that you don’t give advice and guidance. You’ve got wisdom to offer. What we looked at last time is, actually, asking more questions before you do that.
There will be situations that you’re in where you’re sharing your advice and your wisdom and your guidance. What we’re doing here a little bit more, is trying to get people to unlock their own thinking as well. What we know about coaching is when people come up with their own solutions to their own challenges, they’re more likely to go ahead and do it because it’s their solution, rather than us telling them what we think they should do. This is around a bit of balance. It’s a great little tool for you to use as well because it saves your energy, so you don’t have to come up with all the answers.
[END OF TRANSCRIPT]