Phase 0: Kick-Off
This phase was very critical as it set the foundation for all future engagement – and as commonly known: there is no second chance for a first impression. The coach needed to build sufficient rapport and start to co-create the relationship to ensure a trust-based continuation. To make this happen, the coach prepared for and remained cognisant of SCARF® to mitigate amygdala triggers before and during the initial meeting. This preparation/consideration encompassed: focus on clean language, feedback and affirmations to create a positive environment; listen to concerns and answer questions openly and honestly to increase feelings of satisfaction; use powerful questions to help find a place of increased certainty and calmness; explore options and alternatives to provide a sense of control; show ruthless compassion and facilitate normalisation of individual emotions to increase sense of belonging and trust; explain ground rules, focus on process management and role clarification to mitigate sense of unfairness.
Apart from discussing the high-level developmental program overview and its expected benefits from an organisational point of view, the coach needed to be mindful of other key considerations that could potentially jeopardise the success in the long-term:
- Do the managers and coachee accept and understand the rational behind the objectives of the company?
- Do they see benefit in this program for their own success?
- What do they think of coaching and the related other concepts/tools of the program?
- How committed are they to the process - either as manager sponsor and/or as coachee?
- What are their key expectations, concerns, etc. with regards to the program?
To ensure that the coach was not being seen as the driver/owner of this program, an HR representative and the Head of HR – sponsor of this developmental program – were initiating and actively participating in the meeting. They initiated the conversation, answered any questions around the organisation’s approach, the program and the concepts/tools applied. The coach prepared with them for the meeting to ensure a well-orchestrated, balanced and ‘brain-friendly’ agenda.
The outcome of the meeting was that the managers and Sue were excited about this opportunity, and wanted to complete phase 1 and 2 as soon as possible. Sue felt better as she understood what the program is about, and what is expected. She also felt more certain around what coaching is and isn’t, and how different disciplines were part of this program – all interrelated, but all different at the same time.
Phase 1: Discovery
This phase was to elaborate individual concerns, expectations and objectives in one-on-one settings. The coach was cognisant of the importance of rapport-building, co-creating the relationship and SCARF® again, and used similar interventions as the one listed in phase 0. The managers demonstrated their commitment and expectations during the sessions, and came up with their initial objectives (refer to ‘Aligned Objectives’ section for the final version). In addition to identifying objectives, they raised the following concerns:
- How can we keep productivity at the same level and prevent a further drop?
- How can we ensure that other team leads don’t feel treated unfair, as they haven’t been recommended for the program?
- How can we support Sue in all these?
The coach used coaching skills and explored their concerns further and moved them as a result into a more pro-active, positive mindset. Interventions included brainstorming, reflection, paraphrasing/mirroring back, strength-based deep dives and other explorative techniques. The managers came up with the following actions for themselves:
- Hire a temporary employee to assist Sue in administrative activities
- Have an open conversation with the non-nominated team leads the next day to openly discuss the matter, and to understand and, if required, to mitigate any ‘hard feelings; this meeting will be facilitated by an HR rep as the program is owned by them, and to regulate any emotions on the spot
- Schedule regular weekly checkpoints with Sue to discuss the progress and any concerns/issues/risks she might see going forward
Sue was very passionate about setting the objectives, as she knew deep inside that the change needed to happen rather sooner than later (refer to ‘Aligned Objectives’ section for the final version). She was very committed, however apart from being excited, Sue was also slightly anxious. Some of her pressing concerns were:
- How can she manage all this whilst doing her job?
- How will her team react to the changes?
- What if she fails?
Even though the fear could not be completely eliminated during the coaching session, Sue’s key take-aways were more clarity and awareness around her key concerns, and some initial ideas how to decrease the pressure she put on herself. She was also very grateful when she heard of the support that her managers offered her, and left the session with an energised mindset and in general a more positive outlook towards the challenge ahead.
Phase 2: Alignment
The coach summarised all identified objectives and presented it back to the participants including the HR representative. As this meeting triggered some heated discussions based on controversial perspectives, the coach again was cognisant of SCARF®. To keep the meeting focused, positive and based on motivations rather than ‘positions’, the coach used the appreciative inquiry technique mixed with questions to clarify the motivation behind each statement. For example, the coach asked questions such as (depending on the context):
- What is the value gained when all objectives are interrelated? How can your objective be combined with the company’s objective? What does really matter?
- What might the future look like when these objectives are interrelated? What are the benefits of combined objectives? Why is that important – for you, for the company?
- How can we make the objective reality? What are the next steps? What is your role? How can you demonstrate ownership?
- What does the future look like when the combined objectives have been achieved? How does it feel? What is positively different now?
The outcome of the meeting was the objectives as described in the section ‘Aligned Objectives’. During this session, any additional open loops with regards to logistics, payments, code of conduct, etc. were agreed upon as well. The coaching agreement for this specific case was eventually established, and the deeper transformational work could begin.
Phase 3: Strategy
After agreeing upon the objectives the planning phase commenced. To be able to determine the best strategy forward, a ‘laundry’ list was created (based on an initial brainstorming / explorative coaching / reflective ‘homework’). The items were then rated using the ADKAR® model (1=Low; 5=High). The following items were on the list and the coachee determined what disciplines and their concepts/tools might be the best and most effective way forward:
|‘Laundry’ List Items||Disciplines & Concepts/Tools to be Applied|
|Understand the difference between managing and leading; Apply leadership and continuously improve style
A: 4 / D: 3 / K: 1 / A: 1 / R: 2
|Focused Training Session on Management & Leadership Theories; Followed up by mentoring as required (application / continuous improvement); Mentor within company – TBC|
|Conduct 360 degree interviews with 15 -20 nominated participants (categories: direct managers, relevant peers, team members, suppliers) to understand expectations and her current performance betterA: 5 / D: 5 / K: 2 / A: 4 / R: 3||Conducted by Coach and HR; Result shared with coachee and findings followed up by coaching|
|‘Laundry’ List Items||Concept / Tool to be Applied|
|Understand basics of how to communicate and collaborate effectively and with your heart and mind; Apply principles in various situationsA: 3 / D: 4 / K: 1 / A: 1 / R: 2||Focused Training Sessions on NeuroLeadership and Emotional Intelligence; Followed up by coaching as required (application / continuous improvement|
|Evoke better strategies to deal with time management, priority setting, planning, work/life balance, accountability, positive mindset, passion, mindfulness, focus, etc.A: 5 / D: 5 / K: 4 / A: 3 / R: 4||Coaching|
|Understand how to build a culture of accountability and self-management within a team; Drive implementation within teamA: 4 / D: 5 / K: 1 / A: 2 / R: 3||Focused Training Session on Culture Changes; Followed up by coaching as required (application / continuous improvement|
|Initiate facilitated teambuilding days (2); Build upon foundation and continuously strengthen team collaborationA: 4 / D: 4 / K: 2 / A: 3 / R: 4||Teambuilding Workshop; Followed up by regular weekly team meetings/checkpoints|
|Strengthen relationships with suppliers and other interdependent departmentsA: 4 / D: 4 / K: 4 / A: 4 / R: 4||Coaching|
|Build support network (three directions)A: 3 / D: 3 / K: 4 / A: 4 / R: 2||Coaching|
|Understand basics of managing change / driving change; Drive application within teamA: 3 / D: 3 / K: 1 / A: 2 / R: 3||Focused Training Session; Followed up by mentoring as required (application / continuous improvement; Mentor is change management expert within company and has already been identified; Potentially hire of a temporary consultant depending on change initiative to be implemented and time/effort required|
|Apply positivity into private life as well (ensuring active ‘recovery’)A: 5 / D: 5 / K: 5 / A: 3 / R: 4||Coaching|
HR approved the determined concepts/tools, as most of the facilitators, mentors and trainers, etc. were available in-house. This list formed the basis for the upcoming coaching sessions as well as for the required mentoring, training, etc. One point that stood out was the lack of reinforcement after a change has been implemented. Even though the coachee felt a high intrinsic drive, she would like to see additional rewards/reinforcement from the company (e.g. stronger extrinsic reinforcement system).
NB: The following sections focus on the coaching side and not on what happened during training, mentoring etc.
Phase 4a: Implementation – Deep Dive
This part was purely focused on items with coaching either as a follow-up or main concept/tool identified. The result of the 360-degree assessment was another great source that triggered additional ‘material’ for the coaching sessions. The coach was again cognisant of SCARF®, the four processes of motivational interviewing (can be seen as coaching model/process) and the broad portfolio of coaching interventions which the coach applied at their discretion. All coaching sessions had been completed in alignment with the ICF Code of Ethic, and the coachee felt comfortable and respected. She even emphasised on the positive effect that the ‘dance with tension’ had on her, as she felt challenged to think out of the box. To mention only a few, the following key insights came up and accelerated her learning and in the end her success:
- People are people, and problems are problems – it is important to differentiate the two.
- People’s personal needs are relevant to the workplace – satisfying them makes a big difference in motivation, engagement, focus and productivity.
- Water cooler conversation are not a waste of time when used for collaboration purposes (not gossip!).
- You cannot not over communicate – the earlier, the more honest, the more open, the better.
- There is a sparkling diamond in everyone – as a leader, you should dig deep to realise the real potential and value, and provide the platform for the person to let is shine.
- What you give is what you receive. What you ask for is what you get. Have no fear, and don’t hesitate to jump in or to ask for support.
- Trust yourself and trust others – the same goes for respect.
- Being change resistant means caring about it. The person is not necessarily resistant against the change, however they might be resistant against how it is implemented.
- Knowing your own and others emotions, helps you to regulate them appropriately and to address them with effective communication techniques.
- Family/private life is your recovery oasis. Make time for it at all times.
Of course, there were challenges along the way and actions that didn’t work out as first expected. However the coaching sessions provided a space to make refinements, to find the motivation to give it another shot, and to celebrate achievements – even small ones. In summary, the coaching sessions had been seen as the ‘closing loop’ and the ‘glue’ that kept everything together whilst in motion.
Phase 4b: Implementation – Support
The coachee’s actions didn’t require any further involvement and/or additional resources. She managed to initiate, implement and follow-up on her changes and gained all skills and knowledge along the way. The only point where she needed support from her managers and HR were with regards to the reinforcement system. A quick win had been achieved as Sue got an additional budget to compliment her newly implemented ‘acknowledgement’ rounds with monetary rewards, if required. HR also committed to investigate further if a standardised approach for reinforcement could be implemented company-wide.