21 Apr How to coach your colleagues
This evening I will be running a course for a group of female leaders who will be mentoring and coaching others. Whilst it takes a long time, a lot of practice and in-depth training to truly master the art of coaching, there are some simple skills you can implement with your teams on a day-to-day basis. This week I’d like to share a few of these skills with you.
Curiosity is an incredible skill to master. It involves opening up the person you are coaching. Curiosity is about listening out for strands and sparks of inspiration and exploring them further. For example if someone you are supporting is talking about a presentation they gave last week, and they light up when talking about a particular piece of content, get them to step into that further. Name the fact that you can see they’re excited about that and ask them to tell you more about it. When people feel heard and they get the opportunity to share what they love, they come alive.
There are many ways to listen. You can listen and think about your to-do list at the same time (which isn’t really listening). You can put your whole attention on the person you are supporting, taking in their words and understanding what they are saying. Or you can listen to the whole person – ie listen to what they’re implying, listen to the ‘energy’ of the way they are speaking, listen to what’s in the space between you whilst you’re having the conversation. This third way of listening is game changing, because if you are able to name what’s really going on, you will be supporting on a much deeper, more transformational level.
Often we support others and relate their situations to our own. This is not coaching. Listening to someone and responding by saying ‘when I was in your situation I did this…’ turns the conversation on to your agenda, and takes all the power away from the person you are coaching. If you are supporting someone and you notice your own thoughts, opinions, worries or gremlins popping up in response to what they are exploring, the most powerful thing to do is to mentally ‘park’ it so you can be fully present with them. A really emotionally intelligent thing to then do would be to get your own coach or supervisor to support you with anything that you had to mentally park.
There is a place for closed questions when you’re supporting a colleague or a team member, mostly when they are summarising and committing to making change. But mostly open questions serve people best in a coaching/ supportive capacity. ‘What do you want?’ ‘What does that look like?’ ‘How will you know when you’ve achieved it?’ ‘What’s next for you?’ ‘What else?’ These simple, wide open questions will take those you’re supporting to the places they want to go. These questions are non-directive, they suggest you believe the person you are supporting already has all the answers themselves which is hugely empowering, and transformational.
I encourage you to have a play with some of these skills, you never know what kinds of shifts you might create within your organisation.
If you would like to know more about how coaching might work in your organisation drop me an email and we can arrange to talk.
Sending love, Hannah
*Image by Cristian Newman www.unsplash.com