Coaching is Blooming in Shanghai

Five years on and one of my Coaching Master Class participants is now running his own coaching programme for his managers.

Yuyuan Gardens Shanghai

I first visited Shanghai on business in 2009 and have returned a number of times since. I just love the bustle, the people, the parks and the gardens. The famous Yuyuan gardens pictured above is just one of many gorgeous places to experience. A promenade along the Bund on Sunday morning is another. But this is not a gardening website or a travelogue – it’s a Leadership Coaching Blog. So let’s get down to business shall we?

Allen Tu was a Sales Manager in Shanghai when he attended my Coaching Master Class programme in 2011. He was a great participant. Insightful, keen to learn and he applied his coaching skills methodically with his direct reports. This is why I am so delighted to see Allen now in his senior sales management role as he repeats history by developing his own managers as coaches.

Allen just kicked off a coaching programme for his managers. Allen describes it as “A peer-to-peer buddy system designed to help improve overall team performance and further develop talents leadership skill through effective coaching for performance practice”. He is using my coaching resource material to support the programme. Allen will check in with me at key milestones in the programme and together we will publish Posts for this Blog on his progress.

Allen’s managers recently completed my Coaching Self-Study module with his guidance and coach-the-coach support. This was preparing the ground for their practice and application of coaching for performance with their own direct reports.

Here are some of the wise comments from Allen’s managers as they start out on their coaching journeys:



“Good listening comes down to doing three things:

  • Not talking when others are speaking;
  • Letting others know you’re listening through facial expressions and verbal sounds (‘Mmm-hmm’);
  • Being able to repeat what others have said, practically word-for-word.

I like the Blog Post about ‘Listening’ very much and it really helped me learn a lot. Through this reading I realized that I had made some mistakes in daily communications which I hadn’t noticed.  It’s often the case that:

  • People are talking, but I am thinking about something else;
  • It’s not enough to just simply to be the ‘listener’ and not provide constructive comments;
  • It’s not about ‘one-way communication’ – the two sides each have to have a say;
  • You need to talk and listen in a safe environment”.



“Thanks for the great self-study materials and the very useful coaching Blog website, here would like to share some of my finding:

  • First thing is building the trust, it’s a very important groundwork;
  • Thinking in a structure way, follow the flow: use GROW to guide the coachee to have awareness and encourage them to take responsibility;
  • Questioning skills are very important; better prepare some good questions;
  • Ask questions to let the coachee think in their own way;
  • Talk adult-to-adult;
  • Listening is equally as important as asking questions;
  • For any agreed action record to the coaching log and keep tracking the progress in the following coaching session.

However I am also facing some challenges:

  • It’s easy to say the coaching flow path, but in real coaching I still need to practice in order to keep a smooth switch from each session (GROW);
  • I need to take time to change my behavior from telling the answer to encouraging the coachee to think through their own solution;
  • I’m not sure yet how often a coaching session should happen, once a week, once a month? Should there be a fixed time for coaching or coach whenever you see it is necessary?”



“I appreciate being appointed a coach in our peer coaching program.  I will take the great opportunity to practice/recall my coaching skill and use it to help colleagues also to benefit the team and the company.

Coaching is a science. Issues always happen in our daily life. They may look easy to deal with. It’s no problem to get progress, but definitely difficult to get success, especially when you are trying to get your coachees to agree with you from their heart and follow it without any doubt.   

 As a coach, we will also need to get support from managers, and learn methods from relative documents, etc.

I would like to share my learning point from the information you shared to us and also some useful information learnt from Trevor Sherman’s Blog:

  • Setting clear objective of coaching.  Coaching for performance, maximise coachees own performance in line with company goals and target;
  • Asking purposeful questions. Purposeful questions will help to set correct direction during coaching process;
  • Listening and give feedback. Listening is the most important step during whole coaching process from my point view. Encouraging people to deliver what they are really feeling. Finding the issue behind issues will really help in the coaching process;
  • Finding the solution together.  As a coach, don’t talk too much or give solution simply. Try to lead the discussion and find the solution together with the coachees;
  • Follow up and monitoring.  Have to get agreement to follow up and monitor the progress with regular review sessions.

Coaching can be practiced anywhere, issues from coachees will always be happened in their daily work.  We need to have planning & preparation before coaching, practice in a logical way and apply useful method such as S.M.A.R.T measurement in the process.  Coaching is a never ending journey. Start doing it with specific coachees but become able to influence others in the company when you used to use it in your daily life.  Thanks again for giving the opportunity to bring me back to the coaching world!!”



“Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to participate this peer coaching program. I am eager to learn the coaching skill and practice with my teammate to better contribute to the company.

My understanding for a Leader of Others is that coaching for performance will unlock the potential of colleagues and maximize my own performance in line with company goals through adopting an inquisitive approach, asking purposeful question, active listening and giving feedback.

During the daily practice with my teammate, I have listed below key notes which I would like to report to you:

  • I myself need to be confident enough to coach, which means I must enjoy the process and have a desire to help my colleague during the daily work whilst coming to my manager for help and advice
  • Always encourage the teammate to proactively contribute their views, find the root cause behind issues and take responsibility for their own actions.
  • Active Listening is the most important step during whole coaching process from my point view. Let the coachee feel responsive and enthusiastic during the sessions
  • Be descriptive and not judgmental; don’t talk too much or give solution simply, just be supportive 
  • I need to be clear about the desired outcome of my feedback; always be accurate, unambiguous and specific.

Thanks again for giving the opportunity. I will practice more during the coming weeks and help my coachee to improve the performance in Q4”.


So back to my admiration of the parks and gardens of Shanghai. I fully expect the coaching practice of Allen’s team to be blooming soon. The direct reports of these managers will be blossoming too. Allen is currently preparing the ground and sowing the seeds. Over the next few weeks and months he will nurture and grow his managers into capable coaches, and they will all reap the rewards together. Enough of the horticultural metaphors. Watch this space for updates.

Allen Tu LinkedIn Profile

Author: Trevor Sherman

Trevor Sherman: Author, Blogger and Coach. What do I do? I develop leadership training material and personal learning modules. I am the owner and operator of this Blog. I coach senior executives for their development and role transition. I am based in Northamptonshire UK and operate globally - in person and through technology.

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