Research Paper By Lalitha Prasad
(Executive Coach, INDIA)
There are many types of coaching, namely, life coaching, executive coaching, etc. There are many coaching models. All models are not applicable in all situations. Goal oriented coaching like performance coaching will require goal oriented models. But if it is resolution of a dilemma or a conflict, then visualization based model may be more suitable. However, these models may require further tweaking based on client’s behavior, mental state, etc. This article describes the successful application of a coaching model in the context of executive coaching and the modifications required based on the clients.
The model is based on CREATE model of David Rock. The coaching engagement consists of 12 sessions.
- Session 1: In this session, client decides three most important goals for him, for which he would like to be coached.
- Session 2: In this session, client defines the strategies to reach the goals and identifies the first set of actions.
- Session 3-11: In these sessions, actions performed and not performed are reviewed, and a fresh set of actions are identified.
- Session 12: Final review of the coaching engagement is carried out. The periodicity of the sessions is decided in consultation with the clients. It can be anywhere between one to four weeks. In this exercise, the periodicity was one week.
There were four clients. All of them are vice-presidents in an IT services organization. To protect their identities let us call them Susan, Rachel, Bob, and Jessy.
- Susan is a very successful project leader and heads one of the two large verticals in the organization. She is very determined, very focused, a go getter, and clients love her.
- Rachel is a testing and quality specialist and heads the other large vertical in the organization. She is also very determined, focused and maintains an excellent rapport with the clients.
- Bob is a multimedia specialist. Though his vertical is not very big, it is an important revenue earner for the organization. He is very creative, and like all artists is a bit of a maverick.
- Jessy is the most senior among all, very knowledgeable, but highly confused. She has been used to being directed by her CEO. So she is not willing take any decisions. She also had a few personal problems.
Application of the model
None of these people have heard of coaching before. When it was first suggested to them, their initial thoughts were that it is one of those new fangled ideas that Human Resources departments come up with from time to time. Hence, a separate session was organized to explain to them what coaching is all about, its concepts, its benefits, the process that will be followed. At the end of the session all of them were willing to give it a try, though later on it was revealed that Bob and Jessy were rather skeptical and reluctant. Hence their HR department decided to start with Susan and Rachel and two weeks later add Bob and Jessy. The CEO of the organization had a separate meeting with me to share his views on clients and his expectations from the coaching engagement. He feels that all of them are excellent resources, but they lack a larger vision. He expects them to be more proactive in business engagements and business growth.
Sessions with Susan
During session 1 Susan revealed that, though a successful project leader, she feels rather inferior to her peers in other organizations who have changed jobs a few times. Having worked in only one organization all through her career, she feels that her knowledge of IT industry is rather shallow. Though she leads her team with an iron hand, she is mortally afraid of facing an audience. She feels that her organization must aim for larger projects. During the conversation with me in Session 1, she realized that being part of senior management, she has a responsibility for the growth of the organization. While she has been preparing project proposals and participating in client calls, she has not been proactive enough in either cross-selling or up-selling. So she readily chose a goal related to bidding for larger projects. The second goal was related to improving the quality of project deliverables, and the third was related to improving the competencies of her team members. She developed very clear strategies for reaching her goals. She was also able to come up with meaningful actions. She was very diligent in implementing the actions. My role in this engagement was merely to listen attentively and ask open ended questions so she can think of different possibilities. Except on a couple of occasions, when she had an important project assignment, she never missed a session. In the final session, she revealed that according to her, she has achieved 90% with respect to second and third goals. With respect to the first goal, she felt that she has achieved about 80%. There were many leads and prospects, which require some sustained follow up to convert in to real projects. She promised that she will maintain the momentum even after the coaching engagement comes to a close. A few weeks after, the organization was indeed able to sign a couple of large projects, much larger than the ones they were working on till then. So in the final analysis, one can say that Susan is an ideal client.
Sessions with Rachel
In many respects, Rachel is like Susan. She is very industrious, focused and a successful project leader. Generally, the testing projects that she gets are byproducts of other development projects. She feels that she and her team can take up independent third party testing projects. Like Susan, she was expecting the management to get her projects and it did not occur to her that she can play a proactive role in business development. She leads her team very efficiently. During session 1, she chose a goal related to bidding for independent testing projects. Being a quality specialist, she feels that the process models followed in her organization require improvement. She had definite ideas about what needs to be done and hence her second goal was related to improving the process model followed in her organization. The third goal was to improve the team competencies. She was able to come up with clear strategies and specific actions to meet the goals. She was very diligent in implementing the actions. Being a testing and quality specialist, she used to feel that many times her opinions of the quality of project deliverables are not given enough importance by the management. One session was specifically devoted to this topic. She finally realized that there are ways in which she can put across her ideas to management and convince them. She was able to convince her management to let her issue a quality certificate before the project is delivered to the client. It was a big ‘aha’ moment for her. She was also able to convince her management and marketing team to bid for independent testing projects. She had also introduced weekly peer training sessions in her team. Over all she felt that she was able to meet all her goals.