Category: ICF 01 Meeting Ethical Guidelines

3D Juggling 673: Gravy

Claire writes: ‘When I first started coaching in the 1980s, I worked with people who wanted to get involved in overseas aid and development work. We often talked about the balance of skill and knowledge and experience, and how an MA in Development Studies was probably not enough to work in a development project where people on the ground could do more for themselves than a Masters Graduate could.

There’s a lot of talk in the coaching world about knowledge – acquiring more theory and models. Yet that need for balance still stands – a balance of skill and knowledge and experience in equal measure.

A great conversation is like gravy. It may have begun with pans of vegetable water and juice from the meat… but it is most tasty when that’s been reduced to something very simple.’

© 2015 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Juggling 665: Show the Working Out

Welcome to our newest team member Nick Wright who comes to us with a background in coaching and development in the third sector and a real interest in the spirituality of coaching.

Claire writes: ‘In my first career as a Maths teacher, I would encourage my students to show the working out so I could get a sense of what they had done. In conversations, we are constantly scanning for clues from what is said or seen or known, drawing together assumptions and then speaking. Sometimes we are right. And sometimes we are wrong.

One of the insights we can draw from coaching and mathematics is to show the working out. Instead of chasing a hypothesis, or choosing to ask about something we find most interesting or alarming, the coaching style is more of an equal engagement, so it’s polite to ask! So when

  • you’re thinking what do I need to ask next, ask: Where are we now, what do we need to do next?
  • you’re weighing up which theme to follow, scope: I’m hearing w, x, y and z… is it useful to explore one of those – which one?
  • you have a hunch that the conversation might be avoiding something, instead of slowly and subtly working round to that, be direct: are we choosing not to speak about <subject>?

Principle 9: Show the working out

© 2014 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Juggling 664: When It’s Over

In the new year we will be starting some Group Mentoring sessions through webinars for people who have had some training in coaching and want to refine and develop skills and possibly move towards accreditation. One group will be low cost and specifically aimed at clergy. Call the office if you’re interested.

Claire writes: ‘Parkinson’s Law that ‘work expands to fill the time available for its completion‘ can certainly be true in one to one conversations. Whether giving or receiving there is a risk that we will try and carry them on longer than is necessary – either by continuing the conversation when we have done what we need to do, or by continuing to meet over time when the encounter has served it’s purpose. It’s tricky as it’s not uncommon to get to know people well enough that spending time together is enjoyable. If that’s the case, promote them to being a coffee or a lunch companion. In coaching, when it’s over it’s over. Not a great business model for independent coaches, but it’s the right thing to do!

Except, of course, when it isn’t! It ain’t over till the fat lady sings – so sometimes we need to raise the challenge at the end – ‘Do you know how you are going to do that?’ can move an intention to an action. Some people use a coaching style conversation as an external thinking partner over time – and those are relationships that will last longer than engagements to work around a specific theme.

Principle 8: When it’s over it’s over’

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3D Juggling 659: Hats

Claire writes: “It’s not surprising that sometimes confusion happens when we work with colleagues who may also be our friend, manager, leader, mentor, neighbour, office sharer, fellow lover of a particular kind of music… When we work – and sometimes play and live as well – with others, it’s not clear which hat we are wearing especially when many of us are skilled at moving from one to another in a second.

When I visit the GP (who is also a friend) I’d be pretty frustrated if we ended up talking about the politics of our local community – and I expect him to ask what I am there to talk about and stay on topic! Quite often, we will check in as friends.  After we have done the work!  And it’s clear.

Conversations at work can become more effective when it’s clear what we are talking about and what role we are in!”

Principle 3: Change hats with consent’

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3D Juggling 658: Right Here Right Now

Claire writes: ‘People and their stuff are so interesting, if you’re that way inclined, that it’s easy to spend a lot of time finding out more and more.  That means in many 1-1s, the person becomes less significant as we engage in earnest listening and talking to their stuff – and not to them.  It feels supportive and interested… but unless we ask what we need to do right here and right now in this conversation, we may well end up going off at some very useful tangents or revisiting things they have thought about already.

What we are learning is that it’s easy to get back on track if that happens – all you have to ask is – ‘So, right here right now, what’s the most helpful thing we can do to move that forward.’  Occasionally people will ask you to solve that problem you were talking to – if that is in your gift – but most often they will ask you for something different!

Principle 2: Talk to the person not the problem’

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3D Juggling 656: Coaching is simple – simple isn’t easy

Claire writes: ‘Nicky and I had a great day over the summer cutting back the materials we use on our courses to make them even more simple.  We are now teaching about 20% of what we taught ten years ago.  And people are getting more skilled more quickly.

We think there are just 15 principles to making a conversation (coaching or not) effective.  So we’ll have a look at them over the next few weeks.  None of them are rocket science as you will see!

3D’s Coaching Principles

1.    Contract for time as well as subject
2.    Talk to the person not the problem – right here right now
3.    Change hats with consent
4.    Be silent and ask questions where necessary
5.    Stand in a different place
6.    Name it – Say what you see without judgement
7.    Do it now: Real play
8.    When it’s over, it’s over
9.    Show the working out
10.    You action – we process
11.    Match for rapport – mismatch for change
12.    Name it
13.    Keep the responsibility in the middle
14.    Keep out of the way
15.    Ask them

That’s it!’

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3D Juggling 643: Sabotage

Claire writes: “My daughter is learning to drive. I’m sure that she would love it if, one day, the instructor just told her that he had changed roles and become the examiner, and that she had passed her test without even knowing it was happening. At work, we change roles all the time without saying anything.  We flip from manager to mentor, supervisor to friend, non directive to directive.

When we take responsibility to change roles, without asking, we take the power.  If I am doing an appraisal or review and decide that what you really need in response to what you are saying is some deep listening around a specific issue, and I do that without asking, I have sabotaged your review.  I may be right.  But I need to ask or I deny you your review of the last year.  Working out between us what we need to do today and how we will do it is harder work that just doing what we normally do takes more time.  And it is more transformational for all parties.  If you agree with this, and find it hard not to change roles, try sitting in a seat where you don’t normally sit.  It’s amazing how that can help us stay in role!”

© 2014 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Juggling 627: Honeycomb

Claire writes: “After three mentor coaching conversations last week about the challenge of being hard wired into particular roles, whether it be HR Manager, Carer, Pastor, Problem Solver or even Parent, the honeycomb grew out of last week’s containers and emerged onto a whiteboard!

All of us have multiple roles at home and at work.  When we are clearly working in one, we know how it works, and colleagues/ family etc know what to expect from the encounter. It’s like being in one cell in the honeycomb. Conversations are more powerful when both people know what’s going on, and what role the other person is in.

Some of us are most comfortable being the generalist where many roles melt into one. That’s a great approach and works well.  Except when it doesn’t. Whatever your formal relationship, a coaching approach with someone can help them unpick what’s going on and help them to name the  places where they need to look for help or support, affirmation, challenge or advice.  It may not be appropriate for it all to come from one person, nor for us to seamlessly slip from one to another without being clear what is happening.

Boundaries are important. Without their wax walls, a honeycomb will collapse under the pressure of the honey.”

© 2013 3D Coaching Ltd
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3D Juggling 608: Rock, Paper, Scissors

Claire writes: “Rock, paper scissors the game – whatever you do, it’s not clear which is the most important – it changes all the time. Whether we are coaching, or doing any other kind of one to ones, many of us are working in complex organisations or situations where it is not clear what is the most important thing. Complexity is complex.  Michael Carroll says that ‘everything we do in our work has an ethical underpinning’.  It’s about the values we hold and the choices we make.  We notice that professional bodies have great ethical codes which focus on the encounter with the room – trust, confidentiality, appropriate behaviour etc.  But when we solely focus on the person we are working with, we can miss some important understandings

  • Who IS the customer or client? The individual – or the organisation – or other stakeholders?
  • How do you keep the needs of the organisation in the room – as well as the individual?
  • we don’t know what we don’t know

We notice that there are particular ethical issues that emerge in this complexity.  That’s why I am speaking tomorrow about the ethics of working in organisations. It would be great to see you at the University of Hertfordshire at 6 if you are able to come!

Particularly if you are an external coach or consultant – or if you hire people in for training, coaching, consulting or facilitation,

  • where are you asking the joining up questions?
  • how do you challenge the organisation to embed learning from diverse places when many different solutions are being bought in – even if it means that you will lose your work?
  • where do you explore the thics of working with many individuals in the same organisation?

Of course there are no clear rules, but in his book, ethicability Roger Steare raises some great questions

  • What are the RULES?
  • Are we acting with INTEGRITY?
  • Who is this GOOD for?
  • Who could we HARM?
  • What’s the TRUTH?

We have contributed a case study about this to the new book Creating a Coaching Culture for Managers in your Organisation – and of course our thinking is developing all the time!

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3D Juggling 569: Changing Hats

Claire writes: ‘Most of us are in multiple roles – we may be the manager, friend and supervisor of a colleague; we may the parent, the nurturer and the performance manager at home.  And we are changing roles all the time.

This can be confusing to the person we are talking with.  Are you saying that you think another job would be great for me as my friend? I receive that as supportive and developmental feedback. Or as my manager when I may think you are preparing to fire me?

In coaching, you may be tempted to change hats to consultant, counsellor, manager, supervisor, mentor, pastor or spiritual director.  In pure coaching that is actually unethical, but many people operate in several arenas.  What’s important is that you ask the consent of your client to change, only do so if they agree – and then change back.

Next time you shift roles think about whether what you are about to say could be read as ambiguous – and tell your companion which hat you’re wearing.  Don’t expect them to take the role of mind reader? Think about it…’

© 2012 3D Coaching Ltd
May be distributed freely.  Please retain contact details: and send a copy/ link to info@3dcoaching.comed to the listening  exercise: Active seeing is as important as active listening. Think about it…”

Other hats

This has absolutely nothing to do with Edward de Bono’s six thinking hats except that it reminds us of them.  They’re useful.  If you don’t know what they are, have a look at a summary or a video if that will work better for you (fast forward the beginning)