Mind the (information) gap?
Here are some partial notes from a situation that a coach has brought to supervision. What went wrong? What are the main areas to enquire into, to help ensure a good outcome this time and prevent something similar on another occasion?
The coach has a long and happy association with a mid size management services company. The coach traditionally provided training, team development and consultancy type services internally for this company, on a contract basis.
Then, an influential company director with whom the coach has a good relationship, proposed that each senior manager in his department receive 5 one-hour sessions from this coach. This was to be a trial period, based on the director knowing that the coach thought one-to-one coaching would add value and would be interested to provide it. The senior director has not been coached, nor has coaching been available in the company before. A price was agreed and the deal was done!
A specific situation within this:
Stuart is one of the senior managers. Introduced to the coach, he was overjoyed to be receiving some exclusive one-to-one coaching, something that he had been requesting for over a year since his promotion.
The coach understands that Stuart is clearly under a lot of pressure in terms of accountabilities and achieving his performance targets, something that is causing him real anxiety. However, the session goes well.
After the first session, the company director calls the coach in for an update. The coach gave a positive view, without going into detail. But the coach left wondering if there was perhaps some history about his coachee that was not being shared.
||While the coach felt that the session with Stuart went well, he was again pulled in to give an account of progress. The director made clear his view that Stuart was failing consistently in achieving his targets and that if he was not ‘fixed’ he would be out of a job.
||This session did not go well and was cut short.
This is the point at which the coach brought the issue to supervision.
- At what point in this story did you spot a warning sign?
- What hasn’t been said that needs to be said? To who? From who?
- What would you have done differently and why?
- Who are the clients in this story? Stepping in to their shoes, what has each ‘signed up’ to?
- Who has influence over who in this story? Of what type? What are the consequences?
- Who in this story knows what coaching might involve or lead to?
Thanks to Derek Ross, the former peer practice group co-ordinator, for this example. It is a provocation for reflective practice and does not constitute advice.
Safety For All When Pressure Points Emerge
You are coaching a senior manager, Peter, in a coaching series arranged through the HR department. The reason he has been offered coaching and you were engaged is that his role has changed (and expanded) significantly following a merger between two organisations, and this is seen as a good way of helping him adjust to the new landscape and set priorities - as well as deal with an increased workload.
You have seen him for three sessions so far. In the most recent one he referred to big arguments with his wife (but didn’t want to elaborate) and that he was having trouble sleeping. Most of the session focused on work related issues.
His immediate line manager, a director of the company, has contacted you. She is concerned about Peter and told you that he has started behaving out of character: ignoring staff in his team; upsetting a client and turning his phone off for prolonged periods when out of the office.
This director wants to meet you to talk this through, "particularly as you’re a psychologist and all of this has started since you started coaching him." You think you detect a note of accusation in her voice although she says she wants to work with you to help Peter.
What will you do?
Considerations might include:
- How do you decide if/when to refer to a more clinical or therapeutic practitioner? If you did decide that, how would you do it?
- How will you use supervision?
- What form of contracting took place at the outset?
- What ‘inklings’/ flags are you aware of? What are you options for testing them?
- What might you say to Peter? To the line manager? To HR?
Thanks to Sarah Dale, CPsychol for this example Sarah leads the Nottingham-based Peer Practice Group
You are contacted by a commercial organisation wanting to get to know some coaches to add to their supplier resource. They want you to provide a set of three sessions to one of their managers so they can assess if you are the right kind of coach for them. They would like you to provide this for expenses only. What is your response?
- Imagine you accept. You tell a colleague about this. He has declined because he doesn’t think that it’s appropriate to provide a valuable service for free, and doing so devalues his services and those of fellow practitioners. What is your response?
- Imagine you accept. You tell a colleague about this. He says he explained to the organisation the drawbacks he could see in their assessment process. You somewhat agree, but they didn’t, and didn’t continue with their interest in him. What is your response?
- Imagine you decline. Six months later a colleague tells you that not only do they have work with this organisation but it’s been going so well that she has been recommended by them to two other organisations and she is really enjoying the work. What is your response?
- There are a variety of situational factors that may impact your choices. They include and are undoubtedly not limited to: your view on the business of the organisation and whether you are interested to serve this business, your view on whether you have sufficient work currently, your view on whether the proposed scheme will demonstrate your value to the organisation in their view or allow you to assess it in your own view, your career stage and needs in relation to breadth of experience, your view on whether the proposed scheme will deliver what the organisation hopes it will and your knowledge/ability to discuss alternatives, your view on money and fees for your time.
- There are many stakeholders you may perceive in this situation. They include and are likely not limited to: you, your business or associates, fellow practitioners, the organisational ‘commissioning’ individual and their wider department, their line manager, the managers taking part in this scheme, the wider organisation.
Thanks to Julie Allan, CPsychol for this example
You have recently started coaching a member of a corporate management team. The organisation is realising its need has evolved and is now asking you to coach other team members. Do you take on other members of that same team?
Would your answer be different if the team appointed you to work with all of them?
Or if you had been asked at the start to work with several members?
Or if you had been coaching the chief executive and at some point in your coaching he decided his team could benefit from coaching by you too.
Think through what your options would be, the conversations you might choose to have and why.
Thanks to Jonathan Passmore for this example
You receive an email-shot from a member of your profession, highlighting their services. You don't know them personally, however you think the material carries an implicit prejudice towards a particular group. You re-read it, wondering if you are mistaken.
Do you take any action? If so, what?
Do you unsubscribe? Do you seek others' views. Do you introduce yourself to the practitioner and explain your view? Do you contact any official body? If so, which one?
Is your answer different if you are yourself a member of the group in question?
Is your answer different if you know the individual to have a high profile? Or is it different if you know them?
Think through what options you might take and the conversations that would ensue.
Thanks to Julie Allan for this example