Coaching Case Study By ChingFeng See
(Career Coach, SINGAPORE)
Early in the year I picked up a book by Sir John Whitmore on Coaching for Performance. It was very timely as I was then pondering on how best to bring my company and my people to the next level of performance.
I am the founder and Principal Consultant of a boutique interactive digital company, since 2002. For the past 17 years, I’ve presided over the company’s business and have seen the company gone through various stages of growth and its ups and downs. With the rapid pace of technological advancement, coupled with economic competition and re-structuring, every 4 to 5 years or so I would re-invent the company that started life as an email marketing house, to a digital marketing agency, to a web development firm,and to a digital UX (User Experience) design and strategy firm. In view of the rapid changes in the technological landscape, I am in the process of re-inventing the company to ensure that the company stays relevant and not risk becoming obsolete.
I was very inspired by what the book was championing and got me thinking what a high-performance culture is and how I could adopt a coaching mentality and approach to help me and my people to learn, grow and realise our potential as we embrace changes in the technological landscape.
I extracted some statements from the book that inspired me most and are my underlying motivation as to why I signed up for the CCE Coaching Course in June 2018.
What inspires me …
Source: Coaching for Performance. The principles and practice of coaching and leadership. By Sir John Whitmore.
As a Leader – “To Be Coached”
Ever since I read the book on Performance Coaching by Sir John Whitmore and having gone through the coaching training sessions with Viya and Steven, I wanted to start running performance coaching sessions with my people with the view of replacing the traditional quarterly performance appraisal and career development processes in my workplace. For some reasons, I was resisting to start coaching sessions with my staff. The little voice in my head keeps saying “you are not ready”, “it is hard coaching your own people, what if you fail”, “you are still nursing your flu and cough”.At the same time, my little voice also keeps nagging at me that I need to be in action, I need to practice coaching skills and practice and practice to get better at it.This created high anxiety and many sleepless nights.
I kept thinking – If I am interested in transforming my organisation into a high-performance business, if I am interested in bringing my people to the next level of performance, and if I ever wanted to get better at anything, in this case being a coach and not just any coach, but an effective performance coach, then I have to be in action and practice and practice what I have learnt.First, it needs to start with me“a leader to be coached”.Once I recovered from my wheezing cough, I arranged with 3 peer coaches to coach me as a client (also as part of coaching practicum) with the view to experience being coached, to learn about coaching skills and more importantly, to learn about myself, my fears and obstacles that stop me, and my goals and plans for coaching.
Awareness and Responsibility
I have had a big breakthrough in one of my coaching sessions as a client – I was coached by Laura Li on what my life purpose is. The coaching conversation topic on “My Life Purpose” came about when my coach emailed me a pre-coaching session questionnaire form to complete so as to get to know me better before starting our coaching session. There were questions on my personality profile (MBTI: INTJ) and on my strengths (Gallup StrengthsFinder: Responsibility, Adaptability, Strategic, Achiever, Activator). And there was one question that I have trouble answering – “What is my life purpose?”This is something that I have not given any thoughts to it at all in my entire life.I really do not know the answer as I equate this question to being spiritually related and I am not at all spiritual. In fact, as a result I delayed the start of the coaching session for about 2 weeks, wondering how I should answer it. Eventually, a thought came to me – “why don’t I have this question be my topic for coaching”. At that time, I didn’t have much expectation of what will come out of it except that it may be good to discover what my life purpose is. Little did I know that this has the biggest impact on what I am pursuing in coaching.
After an hour or so with my coach, I got clarity on my life purpose and was able to clearly express and articulate it.
My Life Purpose is
Creating an Empowering Context for Possibilities for Myself and My Life
This expression of my life purpose resonated with me deeply. It is with me all this time except that I did not realise this is what have got me so far in my life and in my business.
This is really a powerful breakthrough and clearing for me. What really dawned on me during my coaching session was that my dis-empowering little voices in my head and my lack of an empowering context impacted on how situations showed up for me, resulting in inertia, fear and anxiety, eroding any possibilities that I may have that in the first place got me so excited about coaching and the future that I envisioned for my people and my company. My next step will be to start my performance coaching with my people.
Be in Action
Later that night, I reflected on my life purpose statement. I will have to create an empowering space to stand in for possibilities. After much thought, I declared what my possible future is.
My Possible Future
I declare to be powerfully in action – learning and embracing coaching as a way of being in leading and managing myself, my life, my relationships with my people and my business.
I repeated my declaration loudly to myself a few times and I felt very present to my possibilities. I could visualise what it is like to create a high-performance company grounded on a coaching culture.
Two days later, I was in action and conducted my very first performance coaching session with one of my staff members, adopting the GROW model as my coaching approach and structure.Since I am the one who called for the coaching session, I set the topic for “performance improvement”.
In reflecting on the coaching session with my staff member, I felt that I could have done better if I have had beforehand, better prepared my people by educating the mon the shift from traditional management performance appraisal and career development approach toward the coaching approach for performance improvement. And also, on the role of the coach and the coachee.
I followed this up with my “life purpose”peer coach, Laura, a day later, sharing with her what happened. My coach asked me how have I created a safe place for effective coaching to happen. My answer was“not really”, I simply explained at the outset of the coaching session what I was about to do and the change in approach to using GROW coaching method. So, if I were to apply “Competency 3 – Establishing Trust and Intimacy with The Client”, I would need to establish a safe and supportive environment for my people to talk and share openly with me as their coach and not as their boss. This I did not do.I could see that it would not be easy for my people to distinguish it during the coaching session if there were no proper introduction and preparation on my part.
My coach asked another question – “what would Ido differently the next time?”.
I thought about it and I outlined the following course of actions before I continue coaching the rest of my people.
To establish a common baseline and understanding with my people for the shift to performance coaching, instead of the usual performance appraisal process.
To organise a company-wide offsite workshop (likely half-day) by 3rd week of Sep. 2018 with the aim to:
1) Educate my people on the shift from traditional management approach on performance appraisals; on-the-job development; and career development to a coaching approach and mindset, helping team and individual team members to explore options, aspirations and maximisation of their performance.
2) Share how the shift aligns with the organisation’s goals and strategic directions.
3) Have my people take the online Gallup StrengthsFinder to discover their strengths. With Strength-based development I reckon it would be easier for my people to feel “safe”, focusing the coaching conversation around strengths and relate them with on-the-job performance with the view to maximise their potential.
There is no short cut to acquiring good coaching skills. It requires us as leaders to acquire deep coaching skills and understanding, and lots of practices if we are to deliver high level performance at a personal and professional level. More importantly, leaders in embarking on the coaching journey should firstly recognised the need to be coached, be self-aware, acknowledge and accept, and be wiling to be held accountable and responsible, and more importantly, be in action. Coaching is an enabler and a means to an end.