Recipe for a Coaching Conversation

By Karen Oliver

Surrounded by an overwhelming number of reality cookery programs, as eager cooks battle to become master chefs, has made me think about the recipe we use in talent development for successful Coaching Conversations.

Using a Lee Hecht Harrison (LHH) definition of coaching, ‘Coaching is a development process to help individuals and teams achieve and sustain top performance in ways that are linked to the organization’s needs and measure business results’.

The main ingredient for a Coaching Conversation is trust between coach and coachee. Trust is an intangible asset that translates into ‘flavorful’ results. It’s part of a successful culture that motivates employees and fosters collaboration.

Trust takes time to build and can be quickly destroyed with careless actions, like a soufflé falls when taken out of the oven too soon.

We look at trust from four stakeholder viewpoints:

  • For the organization, to trust the coach has the right skills and technical credibility.
  • For the person being coached, to feel safe, heard, and supported. To know what stays behind the scenes in the kitchen and what will be served in the restaurant.
  • For the coach to know everything that’s on the menu and agreed upon at the beginning of the process and that there are no secret ingredients or hidden agendas.
  • For the line manager coach to know the coachee is comfortable, will be as truthful as possible and engaged in the process.

Each of the stakeholders will need to gather fresh ingredients, prepare their equipment and plan for a successful outcome.

The Organization: ‘Pre-Heat’ the scene for a coaching relationship

  • Check out references, testimonials, background and experience of potential coaches.
  • Arrange for the individuals to be involved in the selection of an external coach – the chemistry between the two will be an important ingredient.
  • Use ‘easy to follow steps’ for confidentially creating an agreement that is clear and transparent.
  • A master chef will make sure that a coaching agreement is in place at the start of a program, signed by all stakeholders covering confidentiality, reporting, objectives and measures for success.

 The Line Manager Coach: Add More Communication and mix well

  • Communication is a key component; even the most competent managers and leaders will suffer a trust deficit if they fail to communicate well with their teams.
  • Your role as a manager must not conflict with your ability to ensure trust and confidentiality when coaching your people.  If you tackle a topic that must be shared with others, clearly explain this to your coachee.
  • Celebrate with your team as they achieve their objectives and enjoy the sweet smell of success.

The Coach: ‘Knead’ a trusting relationship:

  • Be open about yourself; share your achievements and the recipes that have not worked well, from which you’ve grown.
  • Listen with your ears and eyes and be aware of body language. Trust is present when the individual is open and taking in new information that will shift his/her behavior.
  • Give feedback in appropriate ways. For example, in coaching conversations ask for permission to share input; offer encouragement when an individual realizes they must alter their recipe.
  • Keep promises. Be reliable and consistent.
  • Empathize and acknowledge the significant events in your coachee’s life (additions to family, marriage, loss of loved one or serious illness). Share how a similar event impacted your life without overshadowing the coachee’s situation.

 As you remove your chef’s hat and dust the flour off , the aroma of a fully baked plan should permeate the organization. As everyone catches a glimpse of what you and your coachee have achieved, the trust in leadership and alignment to organizational goals will be contagious.

Karen Oliver is a business owner and ICF Professional Certified Coach with 25 years in international HR and development, Karen established her consulting business in Dubai in 2001. Connect with Karen on LinkedIn

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