For this assignment we were asked to conduct a coaching session with a colleague at work then to write a reflective report on our experience. In terms of the way I have organised my feedback, I have chosen to do this by listing questions and answering those as a reflection of what happened in my coaching session. Why am I carrying out this report?
This report has been carried out in order to reflect on the coaching session I have completed with a colleague. This will reinforce my learning and help me to interact with people in different situations. I hope reflecting on this process will also raise and develop my emotional intelligence.
How I completed this coaching session and report?
I carried out a pre discussion with the person in question to establish their level of cooperation. Once I realised he was willing we discussed very broadly potential options for the goal of the coaching session. The coachee felt it would benefit him more if he went away and thought about the potential goal prior to the session, so we arranged a time that suited us both and I sent him a meeting request and booked an available room. We had our session which I pre planned and structured. I made notes during the session (See Appendix B) to allow me to reflect in this report. I also asked if the coachee would fill in the Coaching Feedback Form (See Appendix 15).
Reflection On The Coaching Session
Background of the coaching session
The person which I have chosen to carry out a coaching session with is a structural engineer, I have previously been giving him coaching/mentoring on an informal basis daily. He is a key member of the project team but requires project experience, he is keen and has academic qualifications (Master’s Degree). To allow the session to be effective I have carried out some personal reading to enable me to understand and appreciate the importance of coaching. There are many methods and models to assist and structure a coaching session on but I decided on using Whitmore (2009, p. 55) GROW model sequence of questions. It appeared to be a logical way of defining and structuring the session.
Focus of the coaching session
The focus of the coaching session was going to be around a younger member of the project team who was being fast tracked into a management position. From the coachee perspective he was happy to participate as he felt he was losing focus and wanted to regain his drive. I selected the coachee as he had expressed interest in the past about personal development, along with aspirations to succeed and so I felt that a coaching session may help him to re-focus on required tasks.
Also, from a work perspective (he had been chosen for development within the company), this would bring an opportunity to see if he had any issues that he needed inspiration to overcome. I had a brief pre discussion with the coachee to gain his approval for this and also to see if there was a particular goal or current issue which he would like to focus on. From this we established that there were not any current issues that he was concerned about but he expressed an interest in potentially discussing the path to his future.
Structure to the coaching session
I reviewed various models and activities for coaching sessions ranging from PITS/PETS from Neenan & Palmer (2001, cited in Clutterbuck, Bachkirova, Cox 2010, p. 42) to PRACTISE from Palmer (2007, 2008, cited in Clutterbuck, Bachkirova, Cox, p. 41) after reading these I decided to use the GROW model Whitmore (2009, p. 55) so I read further into this from which I established that as Whitmore (2009, p.10) states “Coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance”. From what I have read this is key to any coaching session as this is what coaching is defined as, due to the fact that coaching is not about telling people what to do but prompting them with questions that will require them to search for the answer from within and listening to them.
The coaching session needs to be structured to ensure it is focused and an effective use of time, I started by writing down various question prompts for each section of the model utilising the key interrogative words: what, who, how, when, where. (Appendix A). So this gave me a structured approach for the session which allowed me to relate to each part of the GROW sequence by having the definition for each stage: Whitmore (2009) G= Set the coachee’s goal, R= Reality can this be achieved is the goal set at the correct level, O= What are the options positive and negative, W= Way forward or will what needs to be done to get there.
But as Whitmore (2009, p. 56) suggests it is not all about the GROW model as without the context of awareness and the coachee having responsibility for the goal and the actions required to reach the goal. Then also the skill that the coach has with the questioning, the mnemonic GROW has little value to a coaching session. I reminded myself of some of the key attributes of a good coach: supportive, structured dialogue, questioning but no dead end questions, challenging, silence can be good, listening and being attentive. I had these bullet pointed and read them just before going into the session.
The key stages of the session
I set the scene by ensuring the room was a comfortable temperature, I then invited the coachee in and ensured we were sat next to but opposite each other as to ensure no feeling of dominance.
I started the session by asking him had he thought about a specific goal which he would like to talk about. He had which was to become a Project Engineer (PE). We both agreed that this was an appropriate goal so I proceeded with some questions around the goal. Key stages of the session
1. Goal which was agreed.
2. Reality which brought doubt and uncertainty to the goal being achievable.
3. Options this opened his thoughts to what he has previously achieved and how this could help to reach this goal.
4. Way forward what he was going to do to help make the goal a reality.
5. Reflection of the coaching session.
Summary of what happened
The first stage of the session was to agree on a appropriate goal to which the coachee had provided and we both agreed upon. I explored the goal by questioning the coachee to ensure that this met the goal setting theory by Locke & Latham (2013, p. 23) using SMART as this enabled me to be sure that the goal was specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and time-bound. Questioning the coachee as to why he wanted to achieve the goal to see what motivated him in the pursuit of it. I then listened attentively to his reply. Then moving into the second stage of the session which was to question about the reality of the goal. This brought about him thinking about the goal he had set and other potential options but he reverted back to the original goal as he saw more personal gratification in the long term. It also brought about doubt in his lack of knowledge in surrounding subjects that he would need to have brief knowledge in to be a PE.
I then questioned him on how he could gain this knowledge which he thought about and he came up with some ways that gave him self-satisfaction of the fact he could reach the goal. I asked him why he wanted to reach the goal to which he came up with various reasons which he was happy with for wanting to achieve his goal. I asked him what his options were for reaching his goal which moved us into the third stage. He went through various options and I asked about the positive and negative outcomes for them. I asked what he thought he needed to change to meet his goal, he decided he would have to give up some of his leisure activities. I asked him about obstacles that could be in his way. These ranged from changes in work management to not being good at the job.
So I moved into the way forward which was the fourth stage of the session. I asked him questions on what he could do that would help in achieving his goal. He made some key decisions in what he wanted and needed that would help him such as: Who he was going to ask for help from? What support he needs to achieve the goal? How he was going to keep motivated? What could stop him moving forward? How would he overcome these limitations? From these he came up with some really good answers that gave him inspiration and focus.
This was evident in his body language and facial expressions. Appendix B contains the draft notes which show some of the key points that were discussed. I wrote up a coaching action plan which I asked if he agreed with. This can be seen in Appendix C. Then I brought the session into the final stage which was a small amount of reflection where we discussed the outcome, his impressions, what he had learnt, what he thought of my coaching skills which brought me to ask if he would fill in the Coaching Feedback Form, see Appendix D.
Summary of learning implications for me
I found that initially I was extremely apprehensive about carrying out a formal coaching session but on reflection of the session I actually enjoyed doing it and found it interesting but yet challenging at the same time. This brought me to realise I can be empathic with people in the right situation. I also established that I enjoyed trying to help someone by them using their own intuition though thoughtful but probing questioning. I struggled with allowing the awkward silences whilst waiting for a response from the coachee, I don’t feel that I left long enough sometimes for the coachee to think before I went into further questions. This is described as being important in coaching by Dembkowski, Eldridge, Hunter (2006, p. 49). “A period of silence is often useful for the client to really explore his emotions and think about a particular topic or situation.”
From what I have experienced and witnessed this is true but it is extremely hard to achieve this as a new coach. I believe this is due to being nervous and doubtful of your own level of ability for coaching. Whitmore (2009, p. 49) puts this quite aptly. “Perhaps the hardest thing a coach has to learn to do is to shut up!”. I think that people can have a tendency to talk when they are nervous or to just fill a void of silence. I regimentally stuck to the model but as described in Conner & Pokora (2012, p. 12 & 28) this sometimes is not a good way to adopt the model as it can limit the conversation.
That the model is best used with a light touch and as a reference should you get stuck. So with this in mind I should have let the session run its course and touched on the stages instead of trying to stick regimentally to the stages. Appendix E contains the Reflection on your coaching session sheet. This was good to do straight after the session as it allowed me to draft my thoughts straight to paper instead of trying to do it at a later date. Summary of learning implications for the coachee
The session brought some of the ideas he had in his mind into focus, which allowed him to re-align his priorities and instead of the ideas just floating around as a muddle of information got them fixed in to a priority sequence. It became apparent that his goal was just an initial goal for him and he had his sights on two further goals, one to achieve chartered status the other to become a Project Manager. This allowed him to focus on what was needed to achieve the initial goal instead of always looking at the future goals. He was able to put actions together that better suited the initial goal instead of trying to achieve the future goal. I think he was trying to run before he could walk.
In summary from reflecting on this overall experience I feel that it was worthwhile and has brought insight for me into the value of coaching in businesses. In the future if I have the opportunity I would like further experience in such sessions but I would not try to regimentally stick to a coaching model as I think this can detract from the effectiveness of a session. As I found that I was concentrating more on the model than on the coachee and their thoughts.
Some further training on being a coach would also be required prior to more sessions as I don’t think this can be done correctly as a formal approach without it. As the sessions get people questioning themselves which if done incorrectly could actually cause distress to the coachee. I feel that once the change is made from an informal chat to a formal session then there is a requirement for a certain level of formal education and professionalism.