It is good every once in a while to bring your attention back to what really matters. In coaching, one of the first things established is what a person’s values are. Values – the essence of what makes you fulfilled and happy – are the foundation of coaching. By staying close to your values, your actions and choices reflect what is most important to you.
Values can get lost in the pressures and influences of everyday life. Your values need to stay front and center for you to be fulfilled and happy. Do you know what your values are? Do they reflect you or what others tell you? Are you honoring your values? Take some time to remind yourself what really matters to you and course-correct if you have to. Your values will always steer you in the right direction.
In the early days of the coaching profession there was focus on the stories we tell ourselves. These stories impact our perspective, emotions and actions, as we build our careers and work every day.
Do you have a “story” that you tell yourself? Perhaps the story is that you are trapped in your current circumstances, that the world is against you, that there is no place to go or that you are underappreciated. Or, perhaps your story is that there are no limits, that you can do whatever you put your mind to or that the world will support you in your dreams. See the difference?
What stories do you tell yourself?
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A recent New York Times article, Graduating And Looking For Your Passion? Just Be Patient. addresses the ever-present call to find your passion. The focus of the article is on new graduates, but there are bits of wisdom in it for all of us. The article suggests that finding your passion is not achieved with a flash of insight and a trumpet blast, but rather by fostering your interests and sense of purpose.
Throughout my time coaching, I have seen people paralyzed by the call to find their passion. They think they have missed it and have no idea how to find it. Take a few steps towards what you’d like to do and trust your intuition. As with many things in life, persistence and focus will get you there. Don’t let the expectations or admonitions of others trip you up. Make your own rules. Your passion is waiting for you.
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Coaching meetings succeed when there is meaningful follow-through. Within a coaching meeting, you create a place of safety, focus and transparency. When your team member re-enters their everyday work life, structure and support are needed for results to manifest. An action plan is one way of providing that structure and support.
Action plans should suit the individual situation and be a formal agreement on how your team member will move forward on the items discussed in the coaching meeting. Goals and outcomes should be created collaboratively and fully agreed to by your team member. If there is a disciplinary or low performance issue involved, agreement is needed with the team member that they understand stretching their performance is necessary and the action plan gives them the opportunity to do so. Check-in meetings should be scheduled. As coach, you hold the goals and outcomes at all times. It’s best to not let time slip away, causing missed goals and outcomes.
When individual goals and outcomes are reached, acknowledgement and positive feedback should be given. Formal “closure” should be made when the action plan is completed. In the event of non-performance on the action plan, you can decide next steps.
Action plans are a great tool for clearly setting expectations, encouraging team members to grow and creating movement. Let action plans help fuel the development of your team.
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Encouragement is a powerful element of coaching your team. Encouragement can be employed in a variety of ways: to lift a discouraged team member, to motivate, to get a difficult message across, to build confidence or to give support or advice.
Encouragement is not a once-in-awhile thing. It should be used regularly, but not disingenuously. It can be provided one-on-one or in the presence of others. It may be in the form of words, gifts or notable mention in a document or e mail. True encouragement requires attention, emotional intelligence, empathy and observation.
Without encouragement, your team can wither. With encouragement, your team is lifted up, what you value is made known and collaboration is enhanced.
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We all need inspiration, especially when we are stretching ourselves. Team members may come to coaching discouraged or unmotivated or daunted by what is expected of them. One very effective way to inspire is to lead by example. Show your team members that you are willing to do what it takes to excel and that they can too. Be a role model. Another way to inspire is to help individuals to see their strengths and the possibilities that lie before them. Show your faith in their ability to excel and face challenges. Inspire them by providing insights and suggesting strategies that help them move forward. Show your enthusiasm for their advancement.
Inspiration, by its very definition, makes someone want to do or create something they may not have considered before. Coaching is about advancement. Developing the ability to inspire is a win-win for both you and the team members that you coach.
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When you are coaching, “issues” are bound to come up. By issues, I mean topics that evoke emotions, anxieties, strong opinions and the like in the person you are coaching or yourself. When issues are introduced, you can get “hooked” by your own reactions to them. When this happens, you as coach have to maintain an objective presence and continue your coaching with a focus on the person you are coaching, not yourself. This can be a challenging thing to do.
Of highest importance is your level of self-awareness. You need to be able to discern very quickly when your own emotions start coming into play. If you feel yourself getting hooked in a coaching conversation, pull yourself back and regroup. Find ways to do this as quickly as you can. If you find you cannot, suggest a short break. Then, return to the coaching with your focus restored. After the coaching ends, you can deal with what happened. Getting hooked serves no one and damages your effectiveness as a coach.
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So many coaching skills involve allowing the person you are coaching to make their own discoveries and reach their own conclusions. It is important to stand back and listen, to allow coaching to progress organically and to keep your biases out of the conversation. However, the success of your coaching depends on keeping things moving.
At times, you may see that something is happening that is sabotaging or delaying the progress of the coaching. You come to the conclusion that you have to “name” what is happening. This takes skill and sensitivity. Say that someone you are coaching is playing a game with you or with themselves, either consciously or unconsciously. Examples may be that they frequently try to change the focus of conversations, use their emotions to disrupt the flow of your meetings or are fooling or are deceiving themselves in some way.
“Naming it” is a tightrope walk – being able to address something but still assuring the safety and effectiveness of the coaching space. One way to walk this tightrope is to direct your questions towards the issue and lead the person to seeing what is happening. Another is to employ your emotional intelligence and bring the issue out in the open. It may take practice, but developing the skill of “naming it” will pay off by allowing you to overcome barriers and to progress in a positive manner with your coaching.
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Do you see time as an enemy or a friend? Time is central to our existence. For time to be a friend, you have to flow with it. It can be a potent enemy if you fight it, ignore it or allow it to have power over you.
How can you flow with time? You start by doing all you can to live fully in the present moment. Only from the present moment can you deal with reality. Living in the past or future skews your perspective. A key element of flowing with time is balance. From a place of balance – emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally – you are functioning at your peak. You also need to recognize the signs of stress and know when to pull back and regroup.
Time is a construct that you can harmonize with. Granted, the speed of our world doesn’t make it easy. But that makes it even more imperative for you to stop and examine your relationship with time. Find your way to flow with time.
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It is challenging for change to occur without motivation. As you set your goals for coaching a team member, think about their level of motivation as they come into the coaching relationship. Are they motivated? Demotivated? What is their level of self-confidence in their skills and ability to perform? Determining this will inform your coaching strategy, as well as your initial expectations for the success of the coaching.
Motivation is often an inside job. However, you can still provide incentives that are intended to motivate. To develop the incentives, look back on your experience with the team member and what you think will motivate them. Engage the team member around the subject of motivation by including them in setting up the goals and approach for your coaching relationship and asking them directly what motivates or demotivates them.
Examples of motivating approaches that are a win-win for you and your team member include: training or another type of skill and confidence development, praise for work well done (past or present), bonuses for results and expressing your confidence in their ability to meet the goals of your coaching.
Without assessing motivation, there’s a chance that the coaching will stall before you start. Recognizing the importance of motivation provides a significant advantage to you and your team member.
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