Seven takeaways from a coaching skills course (2014)

Posted on: November 5, 2014

I led the PM Forum’s “Developing your coaching skills” course http://www.pmforum.co.uk/training/ this morning at the fabulous offices (with amazing riverside views) of Fieldfisher (thank you again for hosting!). I first presented a version of this course back in 2008 and it was really good to have one delegate return for a refresher – she reported that the original session had a major impact on her team’s success and subsequent career.

Coaching, counselling and mentoring

We started with an exploration of the differences between counselling (focus on the past, personal and emotional issues, specialist training required), coaching (using a process to enhance learning and performance, a focus on future goals and road mapping) and mentoring (more informal, the sharing of wisdom and knowledge, advice giving). Official definitions were also considered.

Coaching process and skills

The course concentrates on the coaching process (and how this integrates with personal change cycles) and illustrative coaching techniques and skills (as well as some counselling skills including empathy, authenticity, being present, active listening – reflecting, paraphrasing, summarising, focusing, tracking etc, questioning and probing). Delegates tried out self-assessments (including learning styles) and were signposted to others (both free and those that require a payment) which they might add to their coaching “toolbox” in the future.

Establishing a coaching relationship

We spent some time considering the contracting process – establishing clear terms of engagement at the outset including managing expectations, confidentiality, ethical issues and the need for employment law expertise in situations where there are disciplinary, bullying, stress or other high risk factors. We also looked at different approaches to defining problems, maintaining boundaries and obtaining and providing feedback.

Related topics

We examined links between things such as organisational culture, change management, reward systems and learner and fee-earner motivation (particularly across different generations and the Millennials) and resistance. We touched on some key ideas in NLP (e.g. limiting beliefs) and TA (i.e. parent, adult, child interactions). Integrating the core models with business development coaching programmes was a further element.

Seven key takeaways

At the end of the session, the topics that were felt to be of most valuable to the delegates were:

  1. Establishing trust
  2. Listening skills
  3. Reframing people and problems
  4. The importance of goals and future scenario development
  5. Five to one ratio of positive to negative feedback (Nancy Kline)
  6. Understanding motivation
  7. Group coaching (tackling “Group Think”, in group bias and social identity theory)

PS Sometimes you just can’t win! When I first presented this introductory coaching and mentoring course, it was really well received but delegates said that it was difficult to get out to a full day course so could be make it a half day? We made it a half-day session today and the delegates really valued it but said “Could you make it a full day course?”. I’d be interested to hear your views on how to tackle this half day vs full day dilemma… some suggested half a day on coaching and developing team members and a different half day for coaching fee-earners…others suggested splitting the course across two separate half-days…what are your thoughts on training course duration where you need time to practice skills? (kim@kimtasso.com)

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