Coaching frameworks

Last year I started a coaching apprenticeship, which I mentioned elsewhere and a couple of weeks ago we had the second of our two day workshops. The first round in August were really good, even if slightly daunting as you are coaching others on the programme and being observed at the same time. They are a great way of trying out various techniques though in a safe environment and getting some constructive feedback from others in a similar situation to you.

All the workshops take place online, which generally works well now that we have switched to MSTeams instead of Adobe which was very laggy. It does feel a bit of a shame not to meet people in person from the programme as you do lose those informal coffee and corridor conversations, but it is probably better for uptake and engagement as participants are from all over the UK.

At the first set of workshops we focused on the GROW model developed by Sir John Whitmore. GROW stands for GOAL-REALITY-OPTIONS-WILL which are the stages you coach your client through. I was quite familiar with this from our internal coaching network which trains you in GROW and is the model that we are recommended to use. I’ve been using it with my clients but have found it restrictive in certain settings and a bit formulaic too. So I have naturally gone off course a bit then worried that I’m not following a model, but not every client wants to end their session with a SMART objective, sometimes the objective of the session is to talk through a particular topic rather than have a defined series of actions. Also I have found that some clients want to create loads of actions and then coaching becomes another set of things do to – something I am guilty of and that can increase stress.

For the second two workshops we were looking at two further models of coaching – Solution Focused and Co-Active. Solutions Focused coaching is designed around thinking about positive outcomes rather than problems. It can be described through SIMPLE – Solutions, not problems – Inbetween action is in the interaction – Make use of what is there – Possibilities – Language – Every case is different. The coaching model is OSKAR – Outcome – Scaling – Know-how and resources – Affirm and action – Review. A core part of solutions focused coaching is asking “the miracle question” this is where the client is asked to imagine the future where the problem has disappeared. How does this feel and what is different? In Solution-Focused coaching, clients are asked to use scaling to articulate the impact of the current problem, a picture of the future and how they can move nearer the future through a clear path. I have used scaling in my work as part of the coaching network. Sometimes I find it a bit awkward but it is something to use more.

For Co-Active coaching the model or approach is much less defined. In Co-Active coaching, the coach believes in helping their clients through adherence to three core principles fulfilment, balance and purpose. This is based on four foundation cornerstones – that the client has the answer and it is their agenda, that the client is already creative and whole and does not need to be “fixed”, that the coaching conversation “dances in the moment” and that coaching is addressing the whole life as everything is interconnected. Coaching conversations then include five contexts – listening, self-management, forward/deepen, curiosity and intuition. Co-Active coaching sessions are less structured in the sense of say the GROW model and very much focused on listening skills and following the client’s agenda. I have naturally leaned more towards Co-Active in some of my sessions but had not really realised that is what I was doing.

We were split into small groups of 3 for most of the two days of the workshops and had long sessions, divided into 3 shorter coaching sessions so we could all take turns playing the role of the coach, coachee and observer. We had more formal sheets to take notes which are based around the KSBs of the apprentice framework. These enable us to ascertain where we are and which knowledge, skills or behaviours we need to develop. The days are exhausting! As although you are playing different roles, every role is intense and you need to focus on what your role. Particularly as coach you are very conscious of applying and trying new skills. We were also observed by one of the coach mentors for one session so you are very conscious of what you are doing. I did learn a lot in the workshops, my key take aways were:

  • I feel like I know less now than I did at the beginning of the programme even though I know more!
  • My coaching style has developed in a positive way, particularly my listening skills
  • I thought I was being very client-led when trying Co-Active but there could have been subtext that I wanted to help “fix” my client and so I need to be aware of this
  • I need to try scaling more as I still feel a bit awkward about this
  • I feel more comfortable with Co-Active than Solutions Focussed but can see the value of both
  • I need more practice in terms of applying these to different situations. I can see that both of these might work really well with the Lego Serious Play method so need to factor this into some coaching sessions.
  • I need to keep trusting the process – there is less of a clear process than with GROW but it is still there.
  • I need to clarify the goal at the outset then follow the flow of the client’s words as the conversation evolves.
  • Writing this blog has been a good reminder of how much I need to revise the models!

I’m quite excited (nervous!) about experimenting with these in my coaching. There is so much to remember and I like Co-Active as it is very much about responding to the needs of your client. I also want to be more confident in remembering these tools and then working out when to use them with clients, without leading them to particular outcomes. Again another technique to practice.

It was so useful to see other’s styles and work with other trainee coaches as well as understanding that I am very much on a learning journey with this!

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