Collaborative Coaching: Eight Essentials of Collaborative Coaching

One: Build Relationships

Make time every day to build and strengthen relationships with staff. Showing a genuine interest in their work and in them as people establishes a foundation for collaborative coaching. Having good rapport with people is the essential starting point of a coaching conversation, and also allows supervisors to know how to encourage and motivate the individuals who report to them.

Two: Go See

Rather than waiting for staff to come to them, supervisors should go out and ask people how they are doing. Prevention rather than cure is far more productive in the long term. Do not wait for a performance evaluation review to undertake coaching. Coaching opportunities will present themselves much more frequently.

Three: Clarify Roles

Clarify whether the employee could use assistance or support to tackle the challenge in hand, or whether they just need to be heard.

Four: Ask Questions

Ask questions that help both the supervisor and employee gain a more accurate picture of the issue. Tease out facts from beliefs and look at the situation through the eyes of different stakeholders to get a more complete view of the problem. Share any additional facts or information that can help clarify the situation. Formal or informal feedback from others is a useful way of identifying the key issues. Solving the problem rather than the symptom can take more time, but can have lasting benefits.

Five: Actively Listen

Managers should ensure they are “fully present” in the conversation and give full attention to what the other person is saying by actively listening. Active listening is not just waiting for an opportunity to speak. Occasionally repeat back a summary of what has been said to ensure it was understood correctly. Try to refrain from jumping in with solutions or supplying personal anecdotes.

Six: Identify Options Together

Help the employee identify different options, and then help them evaluate each one. “Have you considered…?” rather than “If I were you I would ….” Keep ownership with the employee.

Seven: Obtain Commitment

Ask the employee to make a firm commitment to the next steps they will take. These steps may involve a total resolution of the problem, or in some cases they may only be initial actions leading to a subsequent decision on how to solve the problem or even redefine the problem.

Eight: Follow Up

Finish the conversation by indicating that there will be follow up at a predetermined date and time. Then follow up with the employee and see how things have gone.

The eight essentials of coaching are examples of how the coaching process is essentially a reflective learning process. We are all busy “doing” every minute of every day and coaching represents the opportunity to stop and think before resuming business as usual.  The role of the coach is to help this thinking process to move employees through the process of figuring out the problem, solution, and then implementing the solution.

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