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Coaching – a nine-step model


Coaching does not have to be as complex as could be inferred from the wealth of coaching books out there. This Nine-Step Model from Jim Scalise tries to simplify the mystique of coaching, getting first-time coaches up and running quickly and effectively.

Coaching relies first and simply on interpersonal skills. However a few definite guidelines are also needed to achieve coaching’s goal of helping to empower those for whom we are responsible, to change their behavioural patterns.

My Nine-Step Model is a synthesis of other models and of psychological studies. I have developed it especially to suit the training of mentors as part of their responsibilities for resolving undesirable behaviour in an industrial on-job environment. It serves two particular intents. It is first a method to resolve on-job problems, and it is also one which can be easily taught to industrial skills mentors and trainers having little other experience in such soft skills.

I use a somewhat similar Model for reinforcing desirable behaviour and leadership values in workshops with professionals. You can adapt it as well for training your own employees to handle your particular coaching requirements.

Each step in the Model is important, and for maximum effectiveness each step should be followed in sequence by the new coach until he evolves his own methodology.

  1. Create a favourable atmosphere:

    If you start by criticising the employee you will both get nowhere fast. A warm and sincere smile, accompanied by a welcome handshake, is always the best way to start any interpersonal involvement, especially a coaching session. Acknowledgement of positive behaviours or accomplishments of the employee is a good way to get you off on a positive note. Let the employee know that you are there in the spirit of helping him, there to keep the matter from progressing to a higher level where it would be out of your control and a more serious problem for him.

  2. State the specific problem:

    Most problems which need to be addressed through coaching are not single occurrences but are recurring behavioural concerns. Therefore come prepared for the session with notes regarding the specific dates or times in which the problem or offence has occurred. When you are critical, remember to use constructive criticism, to criticise the action, not the person.

  3. Seek agreement as to the problem:

    Some people can not admit to themselves even, that a real problem exists, so they certainly can’t admit it to others. That’s why meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous start famously with members stating “I am XXX XXX, and I am an alcoholic!” If you can’t get agreement that a particular issue is a problem then it’s a non-starter for the rest of the process. If the employee has difficulty seeing his actions as a problem, then he needs to reach agreement that his actions violate company policies, and/or impact other employees negatively.

  4. Ask for the problem cause:

    You can only speculate on what is causing the problem, but may realise that you are far off target when you learn from the employee what the cause really is. You may even find that the cause is not his fault or his fault alone, and at this point need to reevaluate the situation.

  5. Request solutions:

    How much more effective will the sought-after behavioural change be if you get the employee to suggest the solution? How much more likely will someone buy into a solution that they have proposed - and will carry through with it? I wish that I had known and used this Method, particularly this Step, when my sons were teenagers. How much less stressful might parenting have been? It’s important to know however that all solutions suggested by others may not be what you would consider acceptable, so weigh the proposal, and keep asking for other solutions until the employee comes up with one which is acceptable.

  6. Get a firm commitment:

    Get a firm statement as to precisely what the employee will do to resolve the problem, and precisely when he will put the solution into effect in a timely manner. “I will try…” is not acceptable.

  7. Record the session:

    Make a note of the commitment. Let the employee see that you are taking the commitment seriously, and he will likewise.

  8. Offer encouragement:

    In any interpersonal activity, how you start sets the mood for everything that follows, and how you end sets its effect. If you let the employee know that you have confidence in his ability to overcome this problem, you significantly increase his ability to do so. “Correction does much, but encouragement more; encouragement after censure is as the sun after a shower.” Goethe.

  9. Follow up:

    On the date that he has committed to, follow up on his commitment, and let him know that you have done so. If any step in the process breaks down then play your last coaching card: “If we can’t help find a solution here then I have to refer this to the next level.”

This Model is best taught as a role-playing activity. I suggest that you start with a group activity, letting your future coaches identify, list, and discuss those many problems which might come up in the workplace. Have them consider problems revolving around the Knowledge, Skills, and especially the Attitude (KSA) of the employees under their responsibility, without neglecting however either those problems arising from the KSA of the mentor/trainer, or problems arising from management support or job environment. Then have them choose different problems from that list to resolve, and pair them off to do so as simulated mentors/employees, with this Model as a Plan/Checklist.

The ensuing role-playing exercise can develop into a very realistic show, dramatising those problems and especially the excuses we have heard all too often, with some refreshingly new ones, and throughout it all an enjoyable exercise for your participants as they follow this simple Nine-Step Coaching Model for helping their fellow employees.

About the author

Jim Scalise is a trainer in the Professional Training Division, Staff Development Group, of Saudi Aramco, responsible for training and certifying all Aramco Trainers, Mentors, Coaches, and Evaluators, and for developing curriculum for those workshops. He has helped develop Aramco’s new state-of-the art Distance Learning Videoconferencing (DLVC) system, is their subject matter expert in that specialty, and has developed a workshop to train Aramco’s teachers and trainers to use the system. He is a member of Who’s Who among American Teachers, a former member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Technology and Learning Magazine, and recognised by IBM as Educator of the Year for Louisiana and the Southern US. He is subject of a statewide TV documentary, Teaching that Works. Jim can be contacted at [email protected] .


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