My experiences with my professional coaching sessions were very challenging to say the least. When I decided to begin graduate school, I never imagined I would be coaching my peers and they would be coaching me during my first quarter. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the experience and I learned a lot while participating. In my circle of friends, I am the one always handing out advice whether it is solicited or not. Because of this, I assumed these sessions would come natural to me. However, I learned by me forcing my opinion and advise on others I was trying to control them.
Whitmore (2009), states “Building others’ self-belief demands that we release the desire to control them or to maintain their belief in our superior abilities” (p. 18). Relinquishing control is a new concept for me. The GROW model gave me a new way of thinking about holding others accountable instead of myself and not offering advice, especially unwanted advice. My co-worker, Teressa T. was able to help me out with my workplace coaching sessions. Since we sit next to each other, we were pretty comfortable with each other. I felt our comfort level would put her at ease and allow her to open up.
All three of our sessions were face-to-face, which was very different from my telephone sessions. I was able to read her body language and facial expressions. Teressa T. was considering a career change that required a change of location. She was nervous and very hesitant about what her next steps should and would be. I already knew a little background and I think it helped but I still had to ask a lot of questions for clarity. Our first session didn’t really flow because I was still trying to figure out how to transition through the GROW model.
She was patient with me and allowed me to find my way. We found ourselves talking a lot about her goals and it took up most of the hour. During our second session, the plan was to pick up where we left off and we did but I detected the anxiety in her tone and I let it guide me to the right questions to get her thinking outside of her bubble. By the third session, my questions we more fluent and it felt more natural. I also found myself asking more open-ended questions instead of suggesting my opinion in a close-ended question. My classmate coaching partner was Kim Knetter.
Kim’s original partner dropped the class and I was still seeking a partner. I am so glad her original partner brought us together because Kim was a great coach. Kim and I coached via telephone. Within the course, we learned that you must be comfortable with the coach and the coachee. They must also be someone with whom you can think of positively. In our first session, we spent a few minutes getting a feel for each other. I was glad Kim elected to coach first because I was really nervous. She shared some of her similar experiences and it made me feel more comfortable with her.
She really helped me with a life altering decision that was adding a tremendous amount of stress in my life. Kim encouraged me to be open-minded and boosted my confidence when it came to applying the options she helped me produce. She then left me accountable with the outcome of our sessions. When I coached her, I tried to ask questions that she possibly had not thought about, therefore, allowing her to look into the situation a little deeper and outside of her comfort zone. We scheduled 2 one hour sessions but they both lasted at least 30 minutes longer.
With each session, I feel I was able to strengthen my skills as a coach and open up more as the coachee by learning from my partner. Key Insights Initially, I wondered how in the world I was going to apply this GROW model without using the outline in the book and asking those questions verbatim. I also worried about transitioning from one to the other. I didn’t want the session to feel robotic. However, after the first session, it turned out to be one of those things that flowed as you listened to each set of circumstances.
I will admit that there was one session I was coaching and I had no idea how to handle the situation, but at the start of this course, I was informed that I did not have to be an expert. I was not even there to give my opinion, but I was to allow my coachee to form their options and leave them with that, which ended up being one of my problems. My issues in my coaching sessions started with me wanting to force my opinion on them. I learned in my studies that we were to allow “wait-time” to give the coachee time to think about where we would progress in the conversation.
Silent makes me nervous. I feel like I am suppose to be saying something so I am still learning that silence is not necessarily a means for me to step in to either ask more questions or elaborate on the last one. How I helped myself with this problem was to allow maybe a minute or so go by before going on with my next question. This method worked part of the time. In other cases, my coachee just needed more time and I did not want to rush them. When I was the coachee, I found myself using a lot of filler words (i. e. um, and) to kill the silence.
Another issue that I am working on is how to formulate a question properly so that I can deliver it clearly. Sometimes I did not get the answers I was looking for with the questions that I asked. It is hard not knowing how to reword for clarity. I aimed to get to the bottom-line in my sessions as quickly as possible, but sometimes I allowed myself to dwindle around the problem instead of getting straight to it. Also, my brain sometimes moves a lot faster than my mouth. I found myself getting tongue tied and stuttering which I have always found embarrassing.
Usually when I get embarrassed I start to shut down but I tried really hard to take a deep breath and start over or just work through it. This still hurt my confidence, but by the end of the challenge I had began to rebuild my self-esteem to avoid second-guessing myself. I realized you have when coaching you have to look past your only personal hang ups in order to be truly helpful. One other issue was with my distractions. With my co-worker, Teressa T. we scheduled our sessions at work but after hours. In the back of my mind I was thinking about my long list of to-do items that were waiting on me at home.
When I initially set up my coaching schedule with my classmate, Kim, I did so considering all of my work and house/family duties were attended to beforehand. Sometimes your plans have to be thrown out the window because life takes over. Our last session had to be canceled than rescheduled because my grandmother had a heart attack the day before our session. The session was the last thing on my mind but when I finally reached out to Kim she was very empathic and accommodating. Coaching with my classmate, Kim, who was a stranger, was equally as successful as coaching with Teressa T. my co-worker and friend. In both cases, we came into the conversation with a mission to get something out of it and not just something on a to-do list for class. I feel all three of us learned about ourselves. That is what made this experience so enjoyable and insightful. Goals My main goal in my coaching sessions was to find my true calling in life. I had to make a decision that was going to affect my career, my husband, and my daughter. I want to find my place in the world and I want to be able to perform to the best of my abilities.
I had an opportunity but I was afraid to take it because something bigger and better would be right around the corner and I would miss out on that. Kim is older than I am and she is more established in her career. She was the perfect person to coach me on my dilemma. She helped me see the bigger picture by asking a lot of hard but insightful questions. She helped me dig deeper within myself to figure out what I truly wanted and what I had to do to get there. Based on my coaching session with Kim, I was able to make a decision. I turned down a “safe” position in hope of “the one” coming along.
My plan of action is to not sell myself short with what is comfortable and continue to seek jobs in my desired career even if I think I may not have enough experience. I will keep improving my skills that I already possess. I will also continue to keep my faith and know that there has to be a job out there that will get my foot into the door, a job that will take a chance of a woman with “little or no experience. ” Leider (2005) says that “to discover my purpose, [I] must: •Discover how to live from the inside out •Discover [my] gifts •Discover what moves [me] •Discover solitude” (p. 25)
My other goal was in my coaching. The major thing that I will improve on is my formulation of questions and being comfortable delivering my thoughts. Like I stated previously, it all has to do with my confidence and that is what lets me down in my question process. It did not reflect so much in my conversations with Teressa T. because we were more comfortable with each other. I believe the way to get better with something is to continue to use it. So, I will use the GROW model on family and other friends to try to get better with my questions and other issues that I have. Conclusions
I think that coaching within the workplace is very valuable considering the fact that Vogl (1997) quotes Charles Handy (The Age of Paradox) writing that, “Our organizations want the most work for the least money, while individuals want the most money for the least work” (p. 19). Companies put so much pressure on their employees to perform tasks that may not be in their own set of values and purpose, but for this sacrifice they only want to give them minimal pay. Hours on the job may be cut, but they are supposed to go into the workplace with great motivation for a job that is inconsiderate to them.
Yes, there should be coaching in the workplace as a developmental tool. The employees in this day in time are facing many issues that can be handled if they had coaches come in and help provide the employees with some insight to how they can be more productive. A personal issue may be what is keeping the employees down. Management should step in directly before the problem persists and gets worse. I think that the moment to step in to coach is right before an issue gets too out of hand. Coaching should begin as soon as the concern is detected.
The moment to be directive is at a time when you need immediate results without consulting with the employee. They only need to know that the task needs completing without hesitation. Any issue occurring afterwards is a time for coaching. My coaching challenges allowed me to open up to people about my circumstances that I probably never would do with a stranger. However, dialoguing with my colleagues was refreshing, because it assured me that there was (or is) a time in their lives that they had the same problems as I have. I look forward to continuing with my coaching and helping my colleagues to see beyond their situation long enough to develop a strong solution.
Whitmore, J. (2009). Coaching for performance (3rd ed. ). London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing. Leider, R. J. (2005). The power of purpose: Creating meaning in your life and work. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. Vogl, A. J. (1997, October). Soul searching looking for meaning in the marketplace. Across the Board, 34(9), 16-23. Retrieved October 11, 2008, from Business Source Complete database.