Sessions with Bob
As mentioned before Bob is an artist and a multimedia specialist. He is a bit of a maverick. All his team mates are also artists. The general opinion in the organization is that the team is very independent but highly creative. Bob was not very enthusiastic about coaching. He felt that creative people can not be straitjacketed in to working towards any specific set of goals. He felt that the broad contours of the project should be specified and they should have the freedom to choose their own mode of working. However, he agreed to meet me. I, once again, explained what coaching is and how it works and the process that will be followed. During the conversation, Bob explained very forcefully that the customer facing side of the organization should be given a complete make over. A new vision statement should be created. Company web site should be over-hauled. He felt that even the company letter head should be redesigned. Coming from a person, who felt that coaching is one of those new fangled ideas of HR department, it was very surprising. The passion behind the statements was palpable. Interestingly, he decided to create a goal around re-branding his company. He also decided to take two more goals, one is around business development and the second is around improving team competency. Obviously re-branding the organization requires management’s buy in, which was not forthcoming. He was disappointed. He was not willing to change his goal and nearly dropped out of coaching. He became disinterested in the other two goals. That is when I decided to try something different. Instead of focusing on goals, I asked Bob if there are any pressing actions, he would like to complete. Bob came up with the idea of redesigning the company website, for which he is the owner. That also gives him the opportunity to use his creative skills. During one of the team meetings, his team suggested the idea building an android application to teach local language to children below the age of 10. Bob readily agreed. The result was that Bob became suddenly very enthusiastic and became very regular with coaching sessions. He started creating actions which would enable him to complete the two tasks he set for himself. By the end of the coaching engagement, Bob was able to completely revamp the company’s web site and his team has completed the application development. So it pays for the coach to be alert to the changes in the situation and modify the process. After all the coach’s job is to support the client and the process must enable that.
Sessions with Jessy
Jessy is the first employee of the organization. She had a special rapport with the CEO, who was like a father figure to her. Initially, the CEO used to tell her what needs to be done and she, very willingly, used to perform the tasks and it became a habit. Even though she became a project leader and has a team to lead, she is always looking to the CEO to direct her. As the size of the organization grew, she was not getting enough time from the CEO. As time progressed, she started falling behind on project deadlines and her team became demoralized. A failed marriage compounded the problems. The organization was not willing to sack her but support her, as much as possible, because of the hard times she was going through. In Session 1, she was not able to fix on any goals. She was continuously saying that she is confused. She said that she has never worked against any goals or deadlines. A visualization or an NLP related technique may have helped in this situation, but since I am not experienced in these techniques, did not use them. Since Jessy is used to performing actions, it was decided that week to week, she will identify a set of actions, which she thinks are important and implement them. However, there was still one difficulty. She was expecting me to tell her the actions to be performed. It required enormous amount of restraint on my part to refrain from giving advice. Even though as per coaching principles, only open ended questions are asked, many times Jessy ended up saying “I am confused”. In my view this is a classic case where the client requires support but the coach needs to be very careful not to get in to advisory mode. It would have been very easy to say that it is not possible to coach Jessy and stop. However, in my view, that is not the spirit of coaching. Every effort must be made to help the client. If it means dropping in a few suggestions, disguised as questions, it should be done. However, that is where the coach’s competency comes in to play. After some initial hiccups, Jessy was able to identify actions, which she wanted to perform, week after week. She was able to implement them most of the time. More importantly, it gave Jessy an enormous amount of confidence that she can think for herself.
For a person, who was starting out on the journey of coaching, it was a great learning experience. Each of the cases is unique in its own way. In software development, experience shows that there may be a company-wide development model, but each project requires its own specific tweaking. Similarly, in coaching it is good to have a model, but it may require changes based on the clients.