VOX-POP SERIES – General Ideas from Coaches (Part 1)

What general insights and ideas about coaching are reported by leadership participants in my Coaching Master Class program?

General Ideas from Coaches

Vox-Pop is from the Latin vox populi and refers to popular sentiment or opinion on a subject – in other words, the voice of the people.

In this series of Blog Posts I explore the sentiments and opinions of leadership participants in my Coaching Master Class (CMC) program. What do they think about the main coaching topics we explore together in this program?

In this article I look at some general ideas and insights about coaching as reported by Coaches participating in my CMC program.

The Coaching Master Class (CMC) program runs over a 12-18 week period. We kick off with a full day workshop for Leaders of Leaders and Functional Leaders who work in the same team and report in to the same boss. I then complete a series of follow up coach-the-coach sessions according to the ARCH Model (Activity, Results, Capability & Handover). There is more on this in my 2016 article ‘Coaching the Coach – Who, Why, When & What?

The notes I take during these coach-the-coach session give me valuable insights and general ideas into how program participants are taking on board and applying the learning from the workshop.

Here are some ideas and insights a selection of CMC participants had about Coaching. This was work I was doing with Maersk in 2012/13. It was a worldwide program covering the eight Network Execution regions. In total I directly trained and supported 85 senior leaders in the 8 regions. I ran train-the-trainer sessions for selected senior leaders who in turn delivered the programme to a further 180 next level leaders. When I read these comments again after 8+ years I’m taken back by the wisdom and insight of these people. In this article I cover four of the eight regions. More general ideas and insights will follow in Part 2.

Leaders from Maersk North America, Charlotte USA

  • “What did I do? I kept my own assumptions out of the conversation, stayed away from solution mode, and asked lots of questions”.
  • “What did I learn? She wants to do a good job and needs help getting there. It was very positive session.  She came up with some great solutions. Coaching requires a lot of time. I took the time to prepare and dedicated time to the session. If the session had been rushed I am sure we would not have got as much out of it”.

Leaders from Maersk Northern Europe, Rotterdam

  • “What did I learn? I’ve made a mental note to be aware that most interactions with staff are in effect coaching sessions and I need to apply the ground rules accordingly. I will cut the dialogues in two parts where I first raise awareness and then create responsibility. The benefit is my staff will get more used to finding solutions and take responsibility for business problems themselves, allowing less time pressure for me and more learning for the staff”.
  • “I apply the GROW model with my direct reports in the monthly one-on-one sessions for performance and with partners working remotely. The purpose is to understand the real impact on the business. What have I achieved? Aligned views on expectations from them and understanding of next steps – thus increase ‘effectiveness’. Step away from theoretical benefits and more real action-oriented plans with deadlines. Prioritise basis potential and deselect obsolete/low impact items. Revised action plan”.
  • “I applied coaching towards one of my Leaders that needed to coach a colleague on personal behaviour and the impact on team’s discussions around objective-setting for 2013. The goal was to unleashed the ‘real issue’ behind stressful behaviour and lack of engagement. What have we achieved? Identification of the root cause. Self-awareness of impact of his behaviour on the team and communication with management. Clear ownership of the problem and the solution and potential benefits/dangers. Follow up on one-on-ones session as PDSA on the improvement path and next steps”.
  • “What have I learn about myself? I’m a better coach if I disconnect my personal goals/desires from that of the coachee. I can become too forceful in pushing my idea, rather than allowing someone to ‘reflect into’ my idea”.

Leaders from Maersk Far East Asia, Shanghai

  • “What did I learn? With only inspirations rather than solutions, the coachee is forced to keep on thinking about the current situation and possible solutions. The toolkits help me pop up more straight-forward questions instead of beating around the bush without any value. In future, if I detect any incorrect perception which will defer the coaching, I shall step-in and challenge it timely without further detour”.
  • “What did I learn? As coach, it is not necessary for you to know the exact solution, but you have to know how to inspire the coachee to find out the solution by themselves”.
  • “What did I learn? During the session, I should not raise up my comments when she is talking about her own opinion in a defensive atmosphere. I shall listen her carefully to understand her real feeling rather than deteriorate the trust. For tough coaching session the coach should be patient enough to understand coachee’s feelings and opinions first. Build up trust first before launching formal conversation”.
  • “We agreed on the time of next review, and I always have informal talk with her in daily work when I detected some issues. I provided feedback based on facts rather than perceptions which makes the coachee realize the real situation we are facing”.
  • “What did I do? Used a clear structure. Used ‘silence period’ to enable staff to think. Offered guidance instead of solution”.
  • “What did I learn? Silence is powerful. Coaching does take longer time compared to ‘teaching’. However, ‘teaching’ is also needed at some points to clarify rules and discipline”.
  • “What have I learnt about myself? How to tackle soft issues (feeling / attitude / interaction) that have no hard figure to measure”.
  • “What did I do? Appointed monthly coaching session with coachee, observed and identified the coaching topic, conducted coaching according to GROW model and followed up by a separate/shorter session”.
  • What did I learn? “A good preparation, get buy-in from coachee at very beginning for agreeing the goal or area for improvement will help whole process a lot”.What have I learnt about myself? “I can be a very good coach but still need a lot of practice”.
  • “What have I done? I followed action plan, did a coaching brief session with my direct reports, learned situational coaching and did the preparations. I conducted six 1:1 coaching sessions with my direct reports during past month, covering the topics of new leader development, engaging difficult stakeholder, young talent development, managing team performance and resource allocation and handling team conflicts”.
  • “What were the benefits? I can see that my coachees are motivated, engaged and more comfortable with the coaching conversation. They are answering my questions more positively and actively. And I got their commitments and saw their actions as agreed in coaching sessions for improving their job performance and developments”.
  • What have I done? Person A faced a challenge in the duty planning. He tried hard to assign tasks to the team members, which however did not work well. The coaching session is to optimize the duty plan”.
  • “What were the benefits? He got deeper understanding on the issue, was clearer about basic criteria of a good duty plan, and more confident with making the plan better.”
  • “What have I done? Person B is a veteran staff but recently she got complaints from other teams for not handling things well. The coaching was to identify the causes and make improvement”.
  • “What were the benefits? She reflected on what she did well and what she did not, she was also clearer on roles of relevant stakeholders in the process and would have a case study with teammates to prevent similar issues”.
  • “What have I done? Person C came to me with a question on how to handle a cost issue related to customs declaration. An ‘instant’ dialogue was had to coach her to probe possible solutions”.
  • “What were the benefits? She had a better picture of what causes the cost, the possible ways to address the cost and to avoid future cost, and the needs to know more about the cost details. She seemed more confident with herself”.
  • “What have I done? Person D recently seemed not as passionate as he used to be. The coaching session was to know the context and motivate him for more”.
  • “What were the benefits? He was recognized for his effort to do a good work and have a good relationship with stakeholders. He understood better on how what he does links to the bigger objectives. He felt refilled and took initiate to have a post follow-up on a project”.

Leaders from Maersk Latin America, Panama

  • “Although most coaching sessions have been planned I also have a completely open door policy where my direct reports (and others) can always come to discuss performance issues. A lot of training has been initiated and planned from this”.
  • “I am very clear towards my direct reports to ensure that they prioritise their time and the actions we have identified. I keep a very full agenda for all of them but allow them to take the lead on what they believe is most important. We have a common action plan and follow up monthly”.
  • “What have I done? I had review sessions with my direct reports where we looked at their performance on the set KPIs, what we could change (mainly increase targets) and how to reach a better performance. I used the GROW model for these sessions”.
  • “What were the benefits? 1) It creates a lot more participation and ownership from my direct reports in setting the targets and KPIs. Previously I handled most. 2) All being familiar with the GROW model it comes quite natural to discuss performance with the aim to improve in mind. 3) All more open to set even more ambitious targets”.
  • “What did I learn? Be very careful to start a coaching session if you have something else planned and you see a risk that it will be a long session. Stop the session and schedule for when I know we can finish. I should have known that this would be a difficult session so my desire to use the GROW model took over from just stopping and re-planning the session”.
  • “What have I done? A plan with my leaders was set. Starting this week we have a feedback session (AIDA) and then coaching sessions – 1 hour week per manager plus a monthly performance review. Aligned with that, they will also give me feedback – creating trust and candid environment. The same will be done by them with their respective teams.
  • “What were the benefits? My managers are very, very motivated with this new approach and see great professional grow opportunity for them and their respective teams”.
  • “What did I learn? Sometimes it is hard to say ‘IT IS NOT A GOOD TIME’, when an employee come in to my office and ask whether I have a minute. I more often than not tend to stop everything I am doing to listen and discuss the concerns burning in him/them. Conversely, although I think I handled his case very well and I feel comfortable giving opportune coaching (coaching in a hurry), for an effective GROW / Coaching session in sensitive situations like that, it is important to set the right environment and timing (preparation) to get the desired outcome”.
  • “All my leaders have a clear purpose to our sessions and discussion on how to improve performance for now and future. I have information from everywhere in the organisation thanks to my one-on-ones that I use to help managers develop”. “What did I learn? I’ve learned to detach, something that I was never good at, maybe because I’m a people person and tend to build empathy and create very good relations which allows me to be open and honest on my opinion of what is going on. Detaching allows me to see things under a different ‘colour’, making the process of questioning better, as it gives room for correct questions to be made. Whenever the coachee is someone I know for a long time, I will not only plan my questions, but also look at the situation or issue and not at the person I’m coaching”.
  • “What have I done? Coaching sessions, whether included in the periodic reviews or not, are never the same as they are very much related to the personality of whom is being coached. Even the follow ups sessions differs. This can only be managed and handle properly with the knowledge of the tools”.
  • “What were the benefits? While using the tools in my job role, I’m capable to spot (faster than before but still must improve) what needs to be focused on and prioritises in terms of targets and/or increase actual scores and performance, even if we are already meeting targets”.

Further Reading

Explore the Coaches Toolkit on this Blog for more information on the Tools and Techniques mentioned above.

Search ‘Leadership Interview’ on this Blog for more insights from leaders on how they applying coaching in their day to day work.

Read more about my Coaching Master Class program.

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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