Mastermind seminar: “Coaching at work for Suffolk EPB”

Coaching helps people to grow and succeed in just about any area of business and life.  Coaching is an amazing set of tools that can be used to improve management skills and personal development for individuals in the workplace as well as for their colleagues, peers, clients, suppliers and any group of people they are normally dealing with.

The Suffolk Education Business Partnership (SEBP) works with schools, businesses and the community to promote education business links to enhance and enrich the national curriculum.  They provide young people with work related learning opportunities developed in partnership with local business and industry and also organise events for teaching staff professional development.  The SEBP aims to be a single point of contact for the development and delivery of education business links.

The SEBP approached MaGa Coaching as teachers had expressed interest in learning the basic concepts of coaching to help them face day-to-day work issues..  MaGa Coaching, offered to put together its broad range of skills and formulated a 1 day mastermind coaching workshop. The results were well beyond the expectations of all delegates.

The group

Although the main topic for this group was around education, supported by having a several teachers in the room, we also had a head of finance for a school, a head of mentoring for a government funded organization, a liaison manager and a theatre manager.  In a mastermind workshop it is usually better to have people from diverse backgrounds to stimulate problem solving and learning from several different angles.

Preparation

Attendees completed an application form their 3 most pressing topics/issues.  These topics were listed on a flipchart and hung on the wall in a visible spot.  Several topics were common among delegates.  Most participants are in authoritative positions within the organisation they work for and they recognised the need to have alternative skills to be applied to their day to day job.

The process

Following a brief introduction from Dr Paul Nicholas who organized the workshop the day developed as follows:

  1. All participants were grouped in pairs and given some time to learn as much as possible from each other as they had to introduce each other to the group.
  2. The discussion then moved toward defining a common purpose for the group and ensuring that everybody was completely involved in the process.
  3. Following a number of refining activities the group defined and agreed on a common, shared purpose for the workshop: “Understanding how to enable ourselves and others to become effective coaches”.
  4. It was clarified that necessary skills and training to become a coach are achieved after several courses and exams and the workshop’s ultimate goal was to show how basic coaching techniques could be used to be more effective in the workplace.
  5. The group was then coached to move forward defining and clarifying what main skills and attributes a coach should have.  The group was asked to define some attributes: the coach confirmed total agreement amongst the group clarifying when necessary with examples and practical applications.  After a long conversation the conclusion was represented by the following list:
    1. Timeframe: coaching defines something to be done or achieved by a certain time
    2. Listening: coaching somebody is about listening carefully and being non judgmental in whatever you hear;
    3. Careful questioning: asking the right questions, open questions;
    4. Empathy: while some level of empathy is necessary the coach should be able to detach himself/herself from the person being coached;
    5. Ensure proper body language as 70% of our communication is non verbal
    6. Integrity: be truthful, do what you promise and avoid over committing
    7. Value the coachee: ensure to stress the positive in any achievement and allow the coachee to feel valued for what he/she is doing
    8. Stretch: always inspire the coachee to do a bit more than they would otherwise, stretch his/her boundaries beyond their comfort zone.
  6. Coaching is about action: deciding what you will do by when is the most important part of a coaching conversation, where the coachee commits toward the coach.  Once the list was completed to everyone’s satisfaction the group was asked to spend some time writing down a list of actions that they would commit to as a conclusion of the workshop and then reading it out to the group as a promise to themselves and the group.

Conclusion

By the end of the workshop the level of energy was very high and everybody was positively charged toward their next commitments and how these new skills will help them to be more effective in their respective jobs.

The following are examples of feedback from attendees:

“I found the event exceptionally useful in focusing my thoughts and developing a practical approach to more effective working.” Dr Paul Nicholas, Project Manager, Suffolk EBP

“Found the pace of the course was good. I don’t think it could have been changed  and really enjoyed the day and got loads out of it.” John Payne, Chantry High School, Ipswich.

“The event was very useful and I certainly took interesting ideas from the discussions.” Xavier Norte, Kesgrave High School.

Posted under Case Studies

This post was written by MaGa Coaching on 27 July 2009

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Accountability and clarity of distance: where self coaching fails

I was recently at an event where David Hyner, a well known and respected coach, was explaining his model for self coaching for which he defined the Massive Goal Principle.   David has interviewed in his life a number of top achievers from all walks of life and he derived from them this methodology.

Within an hour of intense and interesting explanation he highlighted a well organized technique that involved a pyramidal structure of concepts and metrics about planning and execution for the achievement of your own big goal.

While I was fascinated by the good structure and the level of charisma that David managed to establish in a venue filled with nearly 50 business people I started thinking about a few simple concepts, mostly biased by my experience and training:

  • Given a large number of people, for each great achiever in that group there are hundreds or thousand that in spite of motivation, inspiration, luck and a number of other factors did not achieve what they planned.  Dan Brown had one of the characters of his novel “The Da Vinci Code” stating that: “history is written by winners”: by the same metric I would say that great achievers are well known or become famous but who tried equally hard with poorer results won’t be mentioned too much.
  • If we look around we’ll notice that many people are not trying to achieve anything great and they are happy to “survive”: having a relatively easy life, a job to pay bills, never challenging themselves and drift along.
  • Most people fail at achieving something because of a number of factors and accountability to themselves and motivation tend to be low or inexistent, even when the initial purpose was good.

In business as well as in life people tend to think in terms of goals: what to do (I want to run a marathon), learn (I want a degree or a new qualification), achieve (I want to raise my turnover by 30% or having a £100K job) and so on.  In reality how many times did you hear somebody saying that she will start dieting, exercising or wasting less time on meaning less tasks at work and so on and so on?

I have even encountered last year an online product that offers, for a fee, a structured coaching program that supposedly helps a pair of friend to set up a mutual coaching programme, establishing goals for each other and coaching each other toward their achievement.  The only experience I have is of two friends of mine who decided to try this and within a few weeks their goals, although if reasonably well defined collapsed for lack of consistency from both parts: committing to a close friend was not felt strong enough and the so-called coaching sections were merely friendly chats without a structure and a time frame.

Self coaching, following a personal commitment or written instructions from a book or online, fails because of the lack of two main factors:

  1. accountability: we tend to promise to ourselves, often in good faith, that we’ll do this and the other.  Many people tend to over commit themselves about their “to do” list: frequently this can cause stress, anxiety or apathy toward the particular task.  Ultimately these are just promises we do to ourselves.  Let’s see 2 examples:
    1. I tell to myself that I will get up at 7AM and go for a run.  I can be the kind of person who does it or, as it can happen, when the alarm clock goes off I might simply ignore it.
    2. I agree with my friend Mark to meet at 7 and go for a run: it becomes an appointment with somebody else and makes me accountable toward him; as I do not want to let Mark down and I will be there at 7.
  2. clarity of distance: when I am involved in a decision about myself it is usually difficult to be objective about the direction to take: think at examples like changing job, deciding upon an important purchase or committing on a business strategy.  An external, detached, person can often see very objectively your situation and come out with a decision that, perhaps, you would not like and take that easily.  The clarity of distance is natural if you are completely extraneous to a person rather than a friend or a relative.  In fact who knows you very well and has exposure to a historical knowledge of what brought you to the decision, might be as biased as you are about it.

The above reasons are offering the perfect case for using a professional coach to help one’s decision process: the coach has (really, should have) qualification and experience to help your decision process and help you to:

  • commit yourself to challenging, realistic and measurable goals
  • ensure that you are accountable toward yourself and the coach
  • when you stuck in an important decision the coach will have the clarity of distance to facilitate your decision by helping your thinking process

Professional Coaching offers structured and time framed sessions that, like short business meetings, are designed to take decision and plan actions.  Coaching is based on questions, powerful questions that help you deciding and committing on what to do: whether you are ponderating the options about the next acquisition for your company, how to plan for a new start-up or what to do next in your career a coach can ensure your thinking process is always at its best.

Posted under Articles

This post was written by massimo on 25 June 2009

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