So, what should I expect during a business coaching session?
A coaching session always starts with whatever is most pressing for you at the moment. “What’s going on today?”
We will explore these problems or opportunities. Lots of questions will be asked to work towards a complete understanding of what is at hand. After all, the most important step in any problem solving is to accurately define the problem. Then, you can move on to asking how to tackle the issues. At this point the conversation may turn back to high performance principles and practices that we have already talked about or, perhaps, something new will have to be introduced. Further questioning and discussion will develop a tactical list of actions to be taken.
You can expect that the coaching session will be challenging, stimulating, energizing, and supportive. Remember, my only concern is your success.
During coaching sessions we will regularly examine what your personal and organizational long-term strategies and objectives are. This provides background that supports a continuing winnowing or issues so that we can focus your energies on the most important issues and opportunities. It is critical that we know that our work is moving you and your company towards long term objectives. Business coaching is about significant results on both the personal and company levels.
At some point during our conversation, we will review the results of the previous session’s tasks. What happened? Success? Obstacles? Do you need to re-calibrate? Change paths?
Usually towards the end of a session you will state the one or two tasks that you will undertake over the next week or so that will respond to the issues discussed. We always check in to be sure that these tasks are clearly defined, measurable results have been determined (how do we know what success looks like?), and a deadline is set.
In the previous posting, I wrote about how managers are chronically undermining whatever formal delegation systems are in place and enabling dependency all around them.
One of the reasons managers answer so many questions from their staff and others in the company is that they fear that if they don’t, then really important issues and opportunities may be addressed incorrectly or sub optimally.
A key to getting out of the round of endless questions while still being involved in important ones, is to set some boundaries, some limits.
This might sound like this: “I want you to develop three solutions before you come to ask me a question. Ask your colleagues for help if you get stuck. But, in the case of the following critical customer, Immense Big Machines, Inc., I want to be informed of any issues involving delay or cost overruns in Project XZY.”
With the right boundaries set around your new rule, you can still be assured of being involved where you need to be.
Finally, to make your staff and others in the company comfortable about taking responsibility for solving problems and answering their own questions, you need to have environment in which mistakes are expected and dealt with positively. Remember, if you are not making mistakes, you are doubtless doing very little and learning not at all. Mistakes need to be analyzed and the lessons learned. Perhaps the only rule about mistakes is that they should not be repeated.