A Coaching Model By Ying Shing Wai, Agile Coach, HONG KONG
MORE “Mission” and “Expectation” through “Option” and “Relevance”
I have worked on a lot of projects, either worked with several departments or worked as a vendor, the people who contacted the most are middle-level managers. Whenever they decided, you would find that the reasons were either from the senior management, the feasibility of working-level operations, or the pressure from the peer level.
They were working hard to align different expectations from different parties to create results and delight everyone. A consequence of not doing this is that different comments or complaints would be raised. The middle managers would focus on those comments or complaints instead of the value delivery of the projects.
This coaching model is to help the client to reorganize the status and find out the way under the complex situation to improve his/her performance.
“Mission” is the long-term result that a person, a company, or an organization is trying to achieve through its plans or actions. It is assigned to middle managers. Middle managers see mission as a chance to gain achievement in their career life and see the results of mission as performance indicators. To accomplish the mission, they must handle the expectation of senior management, co-operate with peer-level in other departments, and plan the actions for the subordinates.
In the coaching session, the client raises an issue and would like to see how it can proceed. It is no doubt that the raised issue should be important for the client at this moment. The importance of the issue is due to a bigger picture behind the issue. The bigger picture is generally a mission. So, as solving the issue would bring out the value for the mission, the importance of the issue would be better defined by the client. So, a space for the client the explore the importance of the issue in the mission is helping the client to redefine the value of solving the issue. Then, whatever the action items are found by the client, the client would have a good linkage between the value he/she wants to achieve and the actions he/she wants to take.
Sample questions for “Mission”:
- What is the importance to solve the issue?
- What is the impact of the issue?
- What do you want to have if the issue was solved?
“Option” is the thing that can be chosen in a set of possibilities. It can be chosen freely by the client. In general, middle managers are experienced in the know-how to complete the missions. They have developed their methodologies to help them to work on the mission step-by-step. They know how to manage and control the tasks they needed based on experience. They expect all the things work as they plan. So, when a new conflict comes, they may find it difficult to solve as they did not have any immediate solution. Or their solutions may cause a decrease in the performance as the new complex situation is not the same. At this moment, the pressures and emotions will be raised as they are not in their comfort zone anymore.
In this coaching session, brainstorming the options of the issues is to help the client to be aware of the possibilities he/she has. Although those options do not mean that the solution could be found, it shows that the client does not leave any choice in changing the situation. In Addition, the options help to step forward in the session and further explore the raised issue. So, a space for the client to explore the options is important and the client can move forward from the fear zone to the learning zone due to some ways found. The results will lead the client to further explore other options or the next steps he/she can take.
Sample questions for “Option”:
- What options do you have?
- What are the possibilities to help you?
- And, what’s else?
“Relevance” is a connection between something useful with what is happening and being discussed. The connections are not limited to the people and tasks, they can be physical things, relationships, interactions, behaviors, emotions, mindsets, values, etc. Middle managers not only manage the stakeholders, plans and tasks, but they also have to face the extra requests, formal and informal relationships, other people’s behaviors, and so on. It is a challenge for middle managers to find out their best choices in this complex situation. And the difficulties of taking any actions depend on the number of known and hidden connections and how far the impacts were made.
In the coaching session, the number of relevances will affect how much support the client has. The relevances are correlated as a network instead of independent selectable items. This kind of property would help the client to further explore the relationship between different aspects of the raised issue. Therefore, a space for the client to explore the relevant network is helping the client to rediscover the links and create any new awareness. The results will lead the client to rethink what support they have and make the best choice he/she has.
Sample questions for “Relevance”:
- Who is affected by this issue?
- What is the importance of the mentioned people for you?
- How does this relate to your works/feelings/beliefs/values?
“Expectation” is a feeling or belief that something will or should happen. Middle managers have to face a lot of expectations from different parties, even self-expectation. How to mix up all the expectations and form a journey to accomplish the mission is the biggest challenge for middle managers. Moreover, how to manage other expectations is one of the major tasks during the journey. They have to use all the resources to understand and maintain the expectations until the mission is accomplished.
In the coaching session, understanding expectations will affect the view of the client. Challenging the expectation is helping the client to rethink and review existing biases. Sometimes, the conflicting expectations are creating a chance to change the perspective as the conflict may not exist in other perspectives. Therefore, a space for the clients to change their perspectives is important. The results will lead the client to rethink the “Mission”, “Option” and “Relevance” they have.
Sample questions for “Expectation”:
- What are you / the others expecting?
- What is the real expectation for you behind the words/instructions?
- What is the importance of this expectation?
Re-Organize the Difficulties: MORE
This model is to bridge “Mission” and “Expectation” through “Option” and “Relevance” under the raised issue’s context. Moreover, through the exploration of each component, creative and innovative ideas may come out to accomplish the mission within the expectations. In my experience, middle managers are practical people. Through the re-target of the mission, the re-evaluation of the options, the re-connection of the relevance, and the re-clarification of the expectation, the client can re-organize the difficulties into the new form and increase the client’s performance and achieve the goals.