A blank page approach to coaching

There are many misconceptions about what a business coach is and can do for your business: I am convinced that this is mainly because coaching is still an unregulated profession and literally any cowboy can call himself coach and start trading.

Business owners that have been exposed to these lesser professional coaches often report very different experiences to the basic underlying concept that coaching (business or otherwise) should be about.  Coaching is a self reflecting learning experience where the coach brings a structure and helps you to think better and facilitate your decision process while, at the same time, keeping you accountable for the actions you are committing to.

I was recently having a conversation with a business owner in the Cambridge area: in the past he worked with a business coach that belongs to an international franchise and he was trying to understand how I work, compared to them.  The best analogy I could use in explaining my totally different coaching technique was to define it as a blank page approach to coaching.

So I first listed what I don’t do:

  • Supply reading material;
  • Use predefined strategies for sales, marketing, customer services and other business management activities;
  • Suggest what to do;
  • Consult in any way;

Then I listed what I can do for you as a business owner:

  • Ask questions like: “how can I help you” and “what would you like to achieve”;
  • Helping you to define and refine important goals for your business;
  • Bring a well proven structure to help your thinking and decision process;
  • Being an objective sounding board that while understands how to run a business helps you with questions that are allowing you to get to your own solutions;
  • Keep you accountable toward your goals and the actions that you define from time to time.

The blank page approach to coaching is about arriving in front of you with nothing more than a notepad and a pen, asking questions, taking notes and helping you to move from a current situation of uncertainty, dilemma, lack or clarity or direction into a constructive process that culminates with a concise, specific and clear list of actions that tackle essential activities for you to move toward your business goals and achieving them.

Posted under Articles, Coaching in Action

This post was written by massimo on 30 January 2010

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What is the real cause behind that delayed task?

While working with a client this week I helped her to identify the real reason for her to delay a very important action and putting it off for more than a month.

Two sessions before the client, that I will call AB to protect her privacy, decided that it was pivotal for her business to hire a VA (virtual assistant) to help her concentrating on her main job and becoming more effective.  Having a list of three well known VA in the area she committed to ring all of them and evaluate which one would best suit her needs.  AB stated that the whole operation would have taken about one hour that it would have been completed by the next session.

Two session and a month later the action was still pending so I decided to be investigate a little the thinking process about an action that:

  1. it a was a necessary step toward the achievement of the goal we are working on
  2. it required short time to be completed

I therefore tackled the conversation as follows:

Massimo: I see this action is still incomplete: can I ask you what is getting in the way?

AB (a bit embarrassed): oh, well other things got in the way.

Massimo: if I may, I would say you are somehow avoiding this action.  Do you think it is still important for the achievement of your goal?

AB (trying to hide her deeper emotions): yes of course but…

Massimo: I have a feeling that you have a deeper reason for avoiding this action.  Is it something you could share with me?

AB (looking more relieved): you know… I have been thinking for a long time about these three VA and I don’t like any of them so I don’t thing I would like to work with any of them.

Massimo: that’s interesting and what could you do about this?

AB (more relieved): I guess I could look for others available in the area.

Massimo: do you think you could do this over the next two weeks?

AB (smiling and full of motivation): yes absolutely.

Massimo: great! I’ll add it an action and we’ll discuss it during the next session if that’s ok.

Five days later AB sent me an Email stating that this action was complete: she found the right VA, she hired her and in 2 days her work was already showing great progress for AB’s business.  What I did in this case was checking the emotions around her decision process: procrastination in this case was caused by her not liking the people she was supposed to ring and an entire month went by before we managed to acknowledge these emotions and help AB to move forward.

Next time you are procrastinating on a particular action try having a good look around what emotions are linked to it:  you may find yourself thinking quite intensely about something completely different from what you are supposed to be doing.

Posted under Coaching in Action

This post was written by massimo on 11 December 2009

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Dealing with aggressive behaviour at work

Anger ExpressionThis is the first post of its kind, just to give an insight about how coaching can help one’s thinking toward a positive outcome.  As I am just sharing part of the conversation I am maintaining the high confidentiality that is always paramount in the coach-client relationship.

During a workshop I recently run one of the delegates asked me if I would suggest ideas about how to deal with aggressive behaviour. After clarifying that as a coach I refrain from offering suggestions and I offered to show her how I could coach her to her own outcome.  The conversation went about this way:

Massimo: can you describe what do you mean by aggressive behaviour?

Client: I always leave my door open as a personal policy and colleagues feel free to enter without being invited and start yelling at me for whatever reason.

M: does this happen when you are expecting them?

C: no just randomly…

M: and you are just dealing with what they ask on the spot?

C: I have no choice, they are there and yelling… and…

M: it sounds this is affecting profoundly… what is your first feeling about that?

C: I feel powerless…

M: have you thought about alternative behaviours?

C: asking them to calm down never worked when I tried: perhaps arranging an appointment… but I usually get very upset and it ruins the rest of my day…

M: is this slowing down your performance?

C: sometime I waste considerable amount of time just rethinking about the whole situation…

M: can you qualify considerable?

C: many minutes, hours some times…

M: so how would you feel if you could deal with this differently?

C: it would make me feel great and invigorated!

M: ok, please let me ask another question: do you feel physically threatened when this happens?

C: … what do you mean?

M: do you think at any time that one of your colleagues might physically attack you or hurting you?

C: no, absolutely never.

M: great, so if there is no physical threat is their loud voice a threat for you?

C: well… I guess it’s just noise then…

M: so how are you going to deal with the next yeller?

C: well, I will be better prepared and just have a different perspective about the whole behaviour

M: great, well done! And thank you for your honesty in discussing this issue

The whole conversation lasted less than 2 minutes and, at the end of it, her expression was glowing.

She Emailed a few days after thanking me again for the little demonstration and explaining how I managed to change her thinking around aggressive behaviour.  She also mentioned that it helped her to face successfully a couple of incidents that would have ruined her day just a before our session.

We recently experienced a high number of inquiries about how to deal with aggressive behaviour. To help people like you we are running a special telecall, in collaboration with East Anglia Hypnotherapy. If you are affected by aggressive behaviour at home or at work and would like to have some help please
follow this link and book yourself in.

Posted under Coaching in Action

This post was written by massimo on 23 July 2009

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