Posts Taged coach-approach

Four Easy Guidelines When Advising Like a Coach

Advising like a coachMuch as coaches try to avoid giving advice, clients sometimes are very good at pulling out of us.  Just when the client seems to be rolling along quite nicely, they will throw in a “I don’t know, what do you think?”  You, as the coach, are caught off guard and before you can help yourself, you have turned into a mentor and a font of wisdom.  Here are four easy guidelines to follow when in this situation.

Always ask permission.  When advice is permission based, you will keep ownership of the strategy with the client.  You will often have the opportunity to ask permission several times.  Think about using questions like:

  • Are you asking for my advice? (This is your real-time opportunity to confirm what you heard.)
  • My advice is offered from outside your activities, so feel free to reject it or tweak it to fit better.

The other key benefit of asking permission is that you prevent resistance. Unsolicited advice immediately generates a backlash.

Start with what they’ve done.  Want to appear foolish?  Blurt out your advice and then listen to your client say, “I tried that and it didn’t work.” Discover what your client has done before giving advice.  You will save time and ego.  Ask the simple and straightforward question, “What have you tried?”

Be clear on what is requested.  Sometimes clients will ask for advice and, while it may be clear in their mind, it may not be in yours.  Ask questions like:

  • Is your question about your goal or your strategy?
  • Are you concerned about your process or your point of view?
  • What’s the advice you would like me to give? [This sounds like a weird question, but you will discover what they want.]

Avoid being Directive.  The phrase “you should” is usually an invitation to trouble.  Alternatively, try phrases like:

  • Other clients have found that. . . .  You are the expert on this situation.  How does this fit you?
  • Here’s another option. . . .
  • What I’ve found helpful is . . . .

These four guidelines keep you thinking and acting like a coach while providing an opportunity to partner with your client.  What have you found useful?

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Should Your Client Quit or Not?

Iditarod Red LanternWe respect those who finish. A recent Seth Godin blog reminded me of this.  Seth wrote about The Red Lantern, which is the Iditarod reward that goes to the last person to finish the race.  The lantern is the reward for those who push through to the end. The Iditarod has found a way to recognize the value of hanging in to the finish.

As a coach, I’ve always struggled with finding the right balance for my clients between finishing what they start and moving on to a different goal.  Here are 19 key questions to sort through what is often a mixed motive situation:

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is it to you to hit this goal?
  2. Are you being driven by your courage or bravado?
  3. How do the costs and benefits look to you at this point?
  4. How do you feel about cutting your losses?
  5. What’s the win if you redirect your goal now?
  6. What’s the loss?
  7. How will you regain your sunk costs?
  8. What will you do to forgive yourself for stopping?
  9. How will you reward yourself for finishing?
  10. What’s changed?
  11. What hasn’t changed?
  12. Are you being internally or externally motivated right now?
  13. How would you feel if it was just you?
  14. How would you feel if you influenced others to do the same thing?
  15. What would _____________ tell you to do?  [Superman? Batman? Your mother?]
  16. What’s your gut reaction right now?
  17. What would happen if you put off deciding for 24 hours?
  18. How would you decide right now?
  19. If you couldn’t fail, what would you do?

The race is not always to the swift.  For Aesop, slow and steady wins the race. As coaches, we cannot decide on the right course of action for our clients.  Even more fundamentally, we need to do our best to avoid influencing their decision.

Think of a recent situation where you were coaching in a mixed motive situation.  What’s the question you would add to this list?

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Three Key Insights on Language and Coaching

Language and reality for coachesThree umpires are arguing about their role in a baseball game.  The most intense argument is about their role in calling balls and strikes. 

The first umpire says (matter-of-factly), “The pitcher pitches.  If he throws a strike, I call it a strike.  If he throws a ball, I call it a ball.”

Throwing fuel on the argument’s fire, the second umpire says, “I just call them as I see them.  If it looks like a strike, that’s what I call it.  If it looks like a ball, then I call it a ball.”

The third umpire puffs up his chest and ends it all. “It ain’t nothing until I call it.”

How do your clients express their view of the world in their language?

Is their world out there and their job is to reflect reality?

Maybe they realize that their mental state plays a role and their role is to select the reality.

OR, maybe your client wants to hide the reality that others see and play a role to deflect it through their language.

What is your role as a coach in working with your client’s reality as it shows up in their language?

As coaches, we often see our role as supporting our clients in seeing alternatives.  How will you do that if your client wants to hide from the reality you want them to see?

When we treat our words as simple vehicles to describe what’s what, we give up on the richness of our surroundings.  And in that richness are the grounds for the best coaching.

How will you coach your client on their use of language to reflect, select, or deflect reality?

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Six Ways to Create a Coaching Culture

coaching culture

We usually think of culture creation as a haphazard process that just happens.  That doesn’t have to be the case.  While you can’t order people to absorb the team’s culture, you can do things to push it along.  Soren Kaplan recently wrote an article on Six Ways to Create a Culture of Innovation for Fast Company.  The article is a great blueprint for creating cultural change in a big sense.  What if you were to apply his six ideas to creating a culture of coaching?  Here are the six ideas (in bold) and how they fit a coaching culture:

1. Be intentional with your innovation intent.  The goal is to frame the world in the terms you want to see. 

  • Why would you want to support coaching?
  • What does it give you that nothing can or will?
  • How does it affect your team and your customers?

One client of mine is working to develop a team of leaders building leaders.  She knows that’s more than having a coaching element.  She also knows that it won’t happen without coaching.

2. Create a structure for unstructured time.  Think of this as an incubation time.  Eggs don’t hatch as soon as they are laid.  The baby bird has to develop in a protected atmosphere for a while. 

  • How will you take away rigidity in your work expectations?
  • How will you let them explore their ideas about coaching and what it can mean for their life?
  • What will you do to guarantee your team time to incubate and grow under your protection but without your direction?

3.  Step in, then step back.  One company I work with regularly has “lunch and learn” sessions designed to provide a structure that allows exploration.  The participants decide how best to use that time. Within a company, you can find ways to put people together.  For entrepreneurs the task is a little different but still doable. For example, a mastermind group gives you a structure to play around with your ideas.

4.  Measure what’s meaningful.  How will you know you are successful? Finding your return-on-investment is sometimes a difficult if not impossible task.  However, you can measure satisfaction levels.  Ask your people “How is this making a difference for you?”  The answers will be enlightening. Retention is often an important measure of coaching effectiveness.

5.  Give “worthless” rewards.  Find ways to celebrate every day.  Who doesn’t like to get recognition for who they are and what they do?  Just imagine encouraging peer coaching for personal growth opportunities.  What’s stopping you from buying lunch as a way of recognizing people who are exploring new horizons through coaching? You should check out the article from Sean Blaze on 35 ways to do this cheaply.

6.  Get symbolic.  You know when you have entered a church, police station, government office, or YMCA.  You see their symbols everywhere.  What are your symbols that say “we coach here?” Your mission and vision statements, stories, key phrases are all part of the culture.  When you figure those pieces out, your culture become even more obvious.

What do you think?  Which piece strikes you as the one for your focus?

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Early Signs of a Coaching Culture

Early warning signsLanguage often foreshadows the development of a coaching culture.  Imagine yourself in the midst of a major transition.  You want your top leaders to show their independence.  In short, you want them to lead.  You decide that coaching is the way to make this happen.  And so you begin.  You set appointments; you support your team as they make goals and set plans.  You struggle to be as coach-like as possible.  How will you know it is working before you see results?  The answer is to listen to what your team is saying.

Coaching phrases will start to pop up in conversations. Unless you are listening for them, the language changes will be so soft that they are noticeable.  If you are listening, you’ll start to hear things like:

  • Wow!  I just had an AHA!
  • What do you want to do with it? (You’ll also start to hear more questions and fewer declarations.)

I’m familiar with one coach at a company who is fond of saying, “Would you like to unpack that idea” in her coaching calls.  At a recent meeting, I heard three different people use that phrase.

Accountability becomes a natural part of conversations. One key part of coaching is the management of progress and accountability. Think of the answers to questions like:

  • What do you want?
  • What will you do to get it?
  • When will you have it done?

In a simple sense, people who engage in coaching start to think in goal setting and goal making language.  Phrases around goal setting will show up regularly in everyday conversations.

Behaviors trickle out from your beginning.  Once you start coaching your team leaders, you will see them start to replicate the behavior with their direct reports.  A sure sign of a coaching culture is when the willingness to coach and to be coached become important expectations.  You may not be seeing tangible results from the coaching, but they are coming.

As you work to develop coaching as an important part of your team’s culture, you want to make sure and stay the course.  Coaching is not a quick fix.  I like the way Daniel Goleman describes it, “Our research found that the coaching style is used least often.  Many leaders told us they don’t have the time in this high-pressure economy for the slow and tedious work of teaching people and helping them grow. . . Leaders who ignore this style are passing up a powerful tool: its impact on climate and performance are markedly positive.”

Language clues may let you smile while you are waiting for results.  What do you think?  What other clues can you point to as an indication that coaching is taking hold?

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Want Your Employees to Stick Around? Try Coaching

Coaching benefit: employee retentionWhen you invest in a coach, you want to know that coaching is going to matter.  You make a choice to spend invest in your future.  You could take classes at a community college; you could hire a consultant to tell you what to do; you could just keep doing what you’ve always been doing.  Instead, you are investing in a coach.  While no coach can give you a concrete guarantee of the results of coaching, there are some good indications that it’s worth your investment.

You get your money’s worth. On the Ultimate Coach University website, we provided some of the benefits found in the studies of the return on investment in coaching. The numbers are astounding.  The International Coach Federation documents a return on investment from some companies of 50 to 1.

One of the benefits to having a coaching culture that isn’t always recognized is retention.

Coaching improves retention.  When you ask people how coaching changes their outlook, you will hear them say things like:

  • I felt heard
  • I felt more in control
  • I figured out how to get along with my director.

People who experience feelings like that are more likely to stay around.  They don’t feel oppressed by their surroundings. Interestingly, employees who work with the coaching client also are more likely to stay.  I’ve coached many executives in direct selling companies.  When I talk with their direct reports, I commonly hear them talk about how their boss is easier to work with and more pleasant to be around.  They will also add that they are feeling more productive.

One of the more famous studies on ROI is from MetrixGlobal, which found a return of 5 to 1 for every dollar invested. They found that ROI was boosted even higher when you include the financial benefits of retention.  Retention boosts the ROI of coaching by an addition 2.5 to 1.

Numbers like these make coaching sound too good. I wouldn’t believe them either if I weren’t a coach and have the opportunity to talk with companies that have a coaching culture.  They think it’s worth every penny.

I love coaching.  I love hearing people reach a new awareness of the future they can create.  I may never get to see the results of the coaching, and I’m okay with that because I know that it’s making a difference in their life.

 

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Listening Like a Coach: What It Means to Not Be Heard

DiSC listening stylesAt the recent three-day workshop for Ultimate Coach University in Salt Lake City, I was gob smacked by one of those AHA moments that we all love to get once in a while.  The first day of the workshop, we spend several hours talking about DiSC and how coaches can use it to understand their clients.  On the second day, we dig deeper into the fundamental skills of coaching.  It was on the second day when Dana Phillips was teaching the section on listening skills for coaches that my learning moment appeared.  Let me share it here.

DiSC is a profile tool provides insights into communication and personality styles.  While we all are capable of using all four styles, most of us tend to exhibit a stable pattern of behaviors.   The four basic styles are:

D is the Dominance style.  These people prefer immediate results.  Their action orientation creates quick decisions and authoritative behaviors.

The i is the Influence style.  These people generate enthusiasm, a motivational environment, and fun.

S is for the Steadiness style.  These people tend to cooperate; their patience and loyalty tend to produce harmony and stable environments.

C is for the Conscientious style.  These people emphasize systematic approaches that will produce accurate results.

Now you may be wondering what this has to do with listening.  So here is the rest of the story.  As Dana Phillips gets started, she asks a very simple question.  “Will you describe to me what it feels like to not be heard?”  The answers in our group reflects the four DiSC styles.

  • The D said, “It was a waste of my time.”
  • The i said, “I was frustrated at being ignored.”
  • The S said, “I felt like I was not worth being listened to.”
  • The C said, “It was totally nonproductive.”

The lesson for me was pretty clear.  I can’t rely on my feelings of being heard because other people don’t think as I do.  As a coach, I want my clients to feel heard.  To do that, I need to speak their language in every way possible.

What do you think?  How do you know if you are speaking the other person’s language?

LIKE THIS ARTICLE? Don’t forget to share it with your friends! Don’t forget to leave your comments. Please, help me be heard.

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Four Ways to Celebrate Coaching

Celebrate CoachingPrior to the 90’s, most coaching was remedial.  Coaching’s purpose was to correct problems and it was often the last resort before firing. In the 90’s, coaching shifted to a positive; it gets the best out of people and creates a strong community at the same time. If you want to build coaching into your culture, you have to find ways to make it public and to celebrate it as a part of your team’s atmosphere.  Unless you find ways to celebrate coaching, it won’t grow. Here are four ways to celebrate coaching that are sure to get your team excited about the opportunity that coaching brings to their life.

Let them talk.  As a coach, part of your commitment is to maintain the confidentiality of your clients.  On the other hand, your clients don’t have to maintain confidentiality.  In fact, you should be excited when they want to tell others about it.  That’s “Word of Mouth” marketing at its best.  Your team members want to let others know about the great things happening, their struggles, and you.  This is a great way to build team support for coaching.  An additional side benefit is that the results are often more dramatic. Just think about it this way: If you were to start a diet and never tell anyone, you wouldn’t last very long. However, if you start a diet and make it public, your commitment level jumps and you increase the likelihood of your success.

Wouldn’t you want people to talk about being coached when it increases their chances of success?

Make Coaching Public Knowledge. You and the people who you coach are not secret agents. You don’t have to hide your behavior, only meeting in secret places after dark.  Before you start coaching, talk with your client about casual public communication about coaching that you will be having.  You want your client comfortable with letting people know she is being coached.  You won’t talk about what happens during the coaching but will make public the fact that coaching is occurring.  You now have permission to say things in public like:

  • How about we go to Starbucks for our coaching today?
  • I have to cut this short so I can make my appointment to coach Beth.
  • I am so excited about today.  I have lots of coaching calls scheduled.

Statements like these are an invitation to converse.  And you can talk about the role coaching is having in building your business and your team.

Solicit Testimonials.  Ask your clients to send you something in writing.  They will say nicer and more powerful things about coaching than you ever could.  Want to read some?  Dana Phillips asked several people to send her a brief note about what coaching has meant for them.  The results are powerful testimonials.  Sometimes you can even videotape quick statements and put them together.

Brag about Your Clients.  When you focus on the Four Guidelines for Building a Culture, you will start to see a lot of traction.  Let the culture speak for itself.  You can talk about the successes in the culture and those accomplishments will solidify the future of coaching as part of your team’s DNA. A great example of this is the way that Lyn Christian shares the successes of her salon coaching in the Paul Mitchell School and with the Progressions Salon.

You will know that you are on the right course with your celebrations when people start requesting coaching.

Thank you for reading about ways to celebrate coaching and extend it into your culture.

LIKE THIS ARTICLE? Don’t forget to share it with your friends! Don’t forget to leave your comments.

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The Secret to Coaching through the “I Don’t Know” Answer.

Coaching "I Don't Know"One of the hardest statements that a client hands to a coach is the one that starts “I don’t” and ends with “know.”  What should a coach say in order to continue moving the client forward? Your client has just told you that they don’t have an answer. What does that really mean?

I once heard a trainer tell me to ask, “If you did know, how would you answer?”  That’s clever, but blatantly calls your client a liar. How will you get your client to the point of answering without taking such a condescending approach?

I’ve had the honor recently of working with some excellent student coaches at Ultimate Coach University.  As they are finishing their training program, we take apart real coaching calls that they’ve had. With their client’s permission, the session is recorded and then the student coach and I discuss that session using a framework of the International Coaching Federation core competencies.

The “I don’t know” shows up at least once in every coaching call. Here are some approaches that I’ve heard used to great effectiveness:

Don’t Say anything.  Shut up.  The coach’s tendency is to rush in to fill the silence; to ask a new question or a rephrased one.  Sometimes when the client says “I don’t know” what it really means is that they haven’t asked or answered that question before.  When the coach rushes in, they are interrupting the client’s thoughts and the answer that is being formulated.  Deepak Chopra once observed that the space between thoughts is the place where insight can make itself known. When the coach hold a little bit of silence, wonderful thoughts start to appear.

Take smaller coaching bites.  Karen Bejjani from J. Hilburn has a great question that I’ve heard her use in classes and while coaching.  Her question is “Would you like to unpack what’s in that statement?” Her question treats the client as capable of answering.

“Talk to me” Questions. These questions just ask the client to talk and see what pops up.  It’s common for clients to discover their answer while they are talking.

When a client says that scary phrase, “I don’t know.” It seldom means that.

  • They may just have not put it into a sentence before.
  • They may have many thoughts and haven’t decided where to begin.
  • They may have a fear of saying their answer.

Your coaching task is to hold a space where the client is comfortable in providing an answer.

Thank you for reading about coaching clients through a tough answer.  If you like this, feel free to share it.  We’d love to have you comment with your thoughts.

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How Coaching Can Make You a Hero

Coaching Heroes transformWho wouldn’t want to be a hero?  Wikipedia defines a hero as “A person who performs extraordinary deeds for the benefit of others.” Yeah, it may not pay well and the hours may really suck, but what else can you do that get universal affirmations?  Unfortunately (or happily, depending on your perspective) heroes are made and not born.  You have to work to become a coaching hero.  Joseph Campbell describes the process of becoming a hero by saying, “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” If you want to be a coaching hero, here’s what has to happen.

Follow your calling.  Ask anyone who is becoming a coach why they are doing it.  You hear things like:

  • People tell me that I do a lot of natural coaching.
  • I love listening to people talk about what they want to do with their business.
  • I’m curious about how people make their dream happen.
  • I get jazzed when I can help people figure out what to do.

I’ve never heard anyone say, “I wanted to become a coach because:

  • It pays really well.
  • I do a great job of managing people.
  • I got tired of working for a company and wanted to start my own business.

Coaches are people who are called to a quest.  It’s their fate.

Be transformed. Coaches don’t just spring fully born into the world.  Like other heroes, they go through a transformational process; they study, practice, reflect, coach, are coached, and do it again and again.  As coaches earn their title, they develop their coaching powers.  They can:

  • Understand what is not said as well as what is.
  • Ignore what they want in favor of the client’s needs and wants.
  • Act highly intuitively and hit the mark.
  • Create SMART goals with their eyes shut (just a little comic relief).

You may not notice it when you see a coach, but the coach knows. At the core, the coaching hero is in tune with their transformation.

Be willing to bestow boons.  Coaches have a different set of powers from most heroes.  Coaches know they are successful when the client succeeds and is willing to claim the credit.  Coaches bestow powers like:

  • Self-determination
  • Positivity
  • Proactivity
  • Self-awareness

How about you?

Are you a coaching hero?

Do you have a coaching hero?

Would you like to be a coaching hero?

At Ultimate Coach University, the goal is to unlock the coach in you, to set your hero free.  UCU Launch workshops start in March and May.  Leave a comment and we’ll fill you in.

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