Category: ICF 02 Establishing The Coaching Agreement

3D Ideas 844: Shopping

Clare T and Ruth are offering low cost coaching to young people who are at transition points. They work from the office, on the phone and online. If you know young people who would value this, email info@3dcoaching.com to find out more.

Clare writes: ‘It’s that time of year when 17 year olds trek off to massive exhibition halls to do “university shopping”. Ahead of such a trip, my son and I had a conversation. I was keen to understand what he wanted to be different at the end of his time at the exhibition, what would he be focusing on? He really hadn’t given it much thought and jokingly admitted he might end up coming home clearer about which Uni offered the best free pens and not much else.

Covey said “Begin with the end in mind… begin each task, project with a clear vision of your desired direction or destination”. Being clear at the outset of an exhibition, or meeting, or conversation what the desired outcome needs to be and what we will see to know that’s happened will ensure it is time well spent.

My son came home more focused, excited and energized to learn more about his possible course options and what to do next and as it happens – penless!’

© 2019 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Ideas 833: Planes 2

Claire writes: “I was sharing with Nicky this morning how useful it is to think of a plane journey as a metaphor for a great conversation.

And we know that there is always more to learn – as we discovered. We were imagining how frustrated we would be if invited on a magical mystery flight that guaranteed we would go to a new destination.  Only to find that we had landed in a place we have been many times before.

That’s why it is so important to co-create the process for a conversation and work out together what we are doing before we start. Whether what we are doing is coaching, or something else, a great contract for today increases the likelihood of getting to new thinking.”

© 2019 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Ideas 833: Planes 1

Claire writes: “We have learned that if we want to increase the likelihood of having transformational conversations – where someone knows something about their own stuff at the end they didn’t know at the beginning – then we must have boundaries. Just before Christmas someone looked at the coaching container I had drawn on the flip chart and said that it looks like a plane journey. Some metaphors have depth and insight. This one does.

They are right. A conversation is like a plane journey. And if it’s a conversation facilitated by one person about the other, we need to have agreed where we are going … even if that agreement is that we aren’t sure. Otherwise you think we are flying to Prague. And I take us to Southampton because that’s where I always fly – and because it’s worked for others I think it’s a great route.

Great conversations are co-created which is why it’s so useful to create the container for the conversation in partnership.”

© 2019 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Ideas 827: Stretch the Frame

Claire writes: “Continuing professional development (CPD) is useful, and in some organisations ongoing training is mandatory. In the coaching world, we are required to evidence 40 hours CPD every 3 years in order to retain our credentials. As people progress through organisations, management and leadership development programmes and other training are available. Some even include coaching. This can easily become a tick box exercise coming out of appraisals – ‘what training would you like to go on?

The results of the training can be more transformational when we stretch the frame. Instead of ‘this would be good to do‘, a longer time frame and a co-created contract can make a significant difference. ‘Begin with the end in mind‘, said Covey. We expand that by asking questions like – What’s the training for? How will you (and the organisation) know it has been useful?

Think a year beyond the end of the programme and have a co-created conversation:

  • What will we see a year after you have completed the course so that we will know that it’s been useful to you, the team, the organisation and your customers (or whatever you call them)?
  • Therefore, what needs to happen during this time to work towards that?

This stretched frame is also useful for probation or training agreements:

  • What will we see 6 months into your next post (or after the end of your probation) so that we know this role is lifegiving for you and the team, the organisation and your customers (or whatever you call them)?
  • Therefore what do we/you need to do in this time to ensure that happens?

Not only is this useful because it looks beyond the obvious end point – it also makes revisiting the contract much more normal. ‘We are three months into… how are you getting on towards [that end point]. What do we need to explore to make sure you get to that [original goal for the training/probation]’.

© 2018 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Ideas 826: Change the Frame

Claire writes: “Last week was one of those weeks which hit many of us from time to time – there was just too much stuff. A late evening’s work and two phone calls in the middle of the night from my husband’s work were the straw that broke the camel’s back and Friday turned from a catch up day to a place of overwhelm.

Two things changed everything. Ruth diverted from a work trip and came into the office to add some resource. And we changed the frame. I had been unproductively asking the question ‘what do I need to have done by the end of Friday’. A better question was ‘what do I need to have done by the end of Monday?’. A new frame changed everything.

Which is ironic because changing the frame had been a topic of discussion all week – more about that next week!”

© 2018 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Ideas 810: Oh!

Claire writes: ‘The room was full of midwives and other health professionals. They weren’t really sure why they had come to the day… and suddenly one lady piped up: ‘OH!’

I begin every single thing I say to my direct reports with a version of ‘what do you want me to do for you?’ and then when I get home at night, I wonder why I worked so hard and seemed to take on everyone else’s stuff?”, she said… “I told them to give it to me, didn’t I?”

She went away, committed to starting conversations with her direct reports with: “what would you like us to think about today?” It’s not, of course, that she will never help or give solutions. It’s just that she committed in that moment of insight to start with seeing if they could work it out for themselves first.’

© 2018 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Ideas 802: Completely Lost

Claire writes: “As professionals – in whatever field we work in – we learn that we need to know what we are doing. What I continue to learn is that I almost never know what we are doing in a conversation, and my role is to be brave and hold my nerve.

We spend several days a week training people to have transformational conversations (where you can see in someone’s eyes or their body that something significant has shifted). And what happens next? Firstly the facilitator of the conversation turns to us with a surprised ‘how did that happen?’ look… and then we often see a look of panic that says ‘Help! I have absolutely no idea what to do now’. That loss of control is scary. And transformation is significant. Of course we are completely lost – something fundamental has changed. Thank goodness for the question ‘Where are we now?'”

© 2018 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Ideas 799: Laundry Basket

Claire writes: “Alan describes the conversations we have as a place to help someone sort through their mountain of laundry. The role of the coach – and indeed the mentor, supervisor or manager (usually) is not to wash their clothes – but to support someone else to sort stuff out enough that they can move forward themselves. And to notice when they choose to leave somes stuff at the bottom of the basket.

That’s why ‘What would you like to think about?’ can be a more useful question than the one that implies ‘What do you want me to do?’. If you are a manager who feels like they are always doing the washing, it might be worth changing the question!”

© 2018 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Ideas 796: Suggestible

Claire writes: “I’m just beginning to realise that the questions we ask to open conversations could be perceived as suggestible:

  • What would you like to think about (… because I’m assuming we will be thinking as well as talking…)
  • What would you like to be different by the end of the conversation (… because I am assuming something will be…)

Interestingly they also inspire and suggest that things can change and move on. And it works! So why not?

© 2018 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Ideas 788: What about what

Claire writes: “‘Simplicity is not a simple thing’ said Charlie Chaplin. At 3D, it is a journey for us to continue to simplify what we are learning and what we share. What we are learning is this: If I bring too much to a conversation – in terms of words, process or content – then I will end up doing most of the work. When we are truly empowering our colleague to think, they will be doing most of the work. Coaching is simply keeping them company while they think (and provoking where necessary). That’s why we don’t like using words like client or coachee – we are speaking with a person – who, we hope, has come to think.

We know that transformation in a conversation is more likely to happen when you have a container and boundaries to what you are doing together. Whatever you use to co-create a container, whether it is Dorothy Strachan’s What – So what – Now what – or Hawkins and Smith’s CLEAR – Contract – Listen Explore – Action – Review, we need to remember that if this conversation is about our colleague thinking, then the What/Contract stage is for them not for me. When we spend too long in the What/Contract, it is probably because I am asking questions so that I understand. If I am trying to understand, I am probably intending to find the problem and solve it for you. A coaching style is about whether you understand (enough) what we are doing today – how we are going to do it and how we will know we have done it.

If you use 3D’s coaching container to form conversations, remember that the What/Contract is for the thinker. And it’s useful in much more than coaching!”

© 2017 3D Coaching Ltd
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