This is the second in my series on tips for tackling Coaching Challenges.
Today I want to talk about a common but very important challenge – coaching the poor communicator. Of course, communication can be written or verbal and many points in this article can apply to both, but the focus today is really on interpersonal verbal communication.
First, we need to help our coachee identify the barriers getting in the way of good communication. Once we understand the reasons for poor communication, we need to help them break down the barriers and start building a path that will lead to clear, open, honest and productive communication.
Let’s start with the definition. We all know what communication is but sometimes I think it is helpful to go back to the basics. So here are a couple of definitions;
- a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior
- the imparting or exchanging of information or news
- means of connection between people or places
There are a few key words in these definitions; exchange and connection. When information is exchanged there must be a balance between giving and receiving. When communication works, there is a connection between the individuals involved. This gives us clues as to where we might focus when working with a poor communicator. Are they able to give and receive information effectively and in doing so make a positive connection? If not, where is the breakdown occurring? What is getting in the way and preventing them from being a good communicator?
Another aspect to consider is the goal of the communication. Common goals of communication are to;
- Build relationships
It can be helpful to unpack this a bit. For example, is the coachee good when the goal is to inform but lacking when it is to persuade or build relationships?
After exploring the process of communication and goals it can helpful to do some discovery around the most common barriers to good communication.
This is one area where your questioning skills really come into play. Use your questioning skills to ask powerful coaching questions that will help you and your coachee identify the barriers that prevent them from communicating in a way that is heard and well received by their audience.
As you work through the process, look for clues to these 7 common barriers.
Here’s an example of how you can use your questioning skills to break down the barrier or work through the process. Let’s say you identify that your client has emotional barriers, a common obstacle that gets in the way of open and honest communication.
Emotional barriers often involve fear, mistrust and suspicion. The roots of our emotional mistrust of others can be deep and long-standing. Often developed during childhood and then reinforced throughout our lives. Because of these emotional barriers people hold back from communicating or develop styles that are more closed, filtered and deceitful rather than healthy, open and honest.
Your success in this process will be based on your ability to not only ask excellent questions, but to ask them in a manner that is open, unattached and judgment-free. Asking not only the appropriate question, but in the appropriate way, is very important to the learning, living and communications process, especially for someone who is challenged by emotional barriers.
Here are 7 questions to get you started.
- Are you aware your perspective may be limiting your success?
- Do others feel safe sharing with you?
- When you are unsure of something, how does that affect your communication style?
- Is it easy for you to say what you think?
- How well do you listen to people?
- What one thing stands in your way?
- What can you dump that you won’t miss?
If you’d like more suggestions for questions to help you tackle coaching’s biggest challenges or training to develop your questioning skills, we have three resources for you to check out.
‘Tis the season for many things but one of the things on your list should be goal setting for 2018. As coaches, goal setting is a fundamental part of what we do and how we help our coachees. We use our coaching skills to help them figure out for THEMSELVES what goals they want to set and how THEY will go about achieving them.
But don’t forget about you! Hopefully you’ve already got your personal goals written down and know what you will do in 2018 to achieve them. If you haven’t completed the process yet, not to worry. The end of the year can sneak up on us. Often, we are so busy helping our coachees that we can let our personal work take a back seat. So now is the time to focus on your goals and plans for 2018. Take some time between now and January 1 to get those goals set. Regardless of where you are in the 2018 goal setting process, I’d like to challenge us all to think big for 2018. The coaching industry is taking off and that is creating new and exciting opportunities. Don’t settle for incremental gains in 2018!
This challenge, to think big and set big goals for 2018, may be daunting to some. Incremental gains feel safe. Big goals can create anxiety and fear in some, but they can also be energizing and a catalyst for change. There may be specific roadblocks and obstacles that have prevented you from setting or achieving big goals in the past. This is an opportunity to knock those obstacles down. One tool that can be very useful in helping you knock those obstacles down is our Personal Groundwork for Coaching Assessment Tool. This assessment tool has been carefully crafted to help you get to the root of blocks, prioritize areas to focus on first and develop a plan to tackle the issues.
The assessment is divided into six sections:
- Physical Environments
- Health and Wellness
- Money and Finances
- Relationships and Communication
- Time and Space
- Career and Business
You might wonder what some of these topics have to do with goal setting and achievement. But that is precisely the point. We each bring every aspect of our history, experience and lives into our work. These things can impact our effectiveness or hold us back. Often, in fact, it is our deep-seated experiences, past successes and failures, fears and insecurities that are at the root of what is propelling us forward or holding us back. So, we need to uncover what these are so that we can remove the obstacles and roadblocks that are preventing us from achieving big goals.
Once you have your big goals set, use the tool with your coachees. Just think of the difference we can make when we set and achieve our big goals for 2018.
I am starting a new series this month to provide tips for tackling Coaching Challenges.
The first in the series deals with a particularly prickly challenge – coaching the uncoachable.
The idea that some people are uncoachable goes against my grain – I like to think everyone can be coached – if we just take the right approach. I’ll admit that there are some individuals that are very difficult to coach. And I guess I must accept that there may be a few who really are uncoachable because they don’t see or believe there is any need to change. Today I’ll give you a few tips on what to do if you find yourself in a position to coach the uncoachable.
You may run across individuals that seem to be uncoachable at many different levels within an organization but you are more likely to find them at the top. These individuals typically have a lot of experience, they have made it to the top on their own, doing things their way. So, their thinking is often - why would they need to be coached? Or, they think it is everyone else who needs to change and others who could use coaching – not them.
But let’s be real – some get to the top based more on politics and charisma than performance and competence. Now, I am not saying that they don’t make contributions to their organizations but it is HOW they got there and HOW they interact with others that is the issue. Because of their approach or style, they often end up creating a toxic environment. Short-term they may be achieving their goals but long-term these same characteristics can end up derailing them. If you haven’t run into an uncoachable yet, you will find that uncoachables at the top of an organization often exhibit greed, arrogance, reckless risk-taking and other detrimental characteristics. Every top executive can benefit from coaching but not everyone sees it that way.
When it comes to coaching these uncoachables you need to flip the script. Rather than focus on their strengths it is more important to focus on what could potentially derail them and negatively impact their organization and their career.
Here are a few tips to get started when you are ready to coach an uncoachable.
- Understand their motivations, goals and personality and work with these not against them
- Help the coachee to see potential issues that could end up derailing their upward trajectory. This might involve gaining insight into WHY their approach has worked so far but then taking a long-term view to see how this approach could turn into a liability for them and their organization
- Help the coachee to discover how they can remain authentic but add new approaches, thinking and tools to achieve their goals that won’t become a liability
If you have an uncoachable challenge I think you will find our Personal Groundwork for Coaching (PGFC) Program™ and the PGFC Workbook particularly helpful. You will learn advanced listening, questioning and framing techniques designed to help with the more challenging coaching situations. Advanced skills will focus on helping coachees get to the root, expose blind spots and overcome resistance to change. In the case of the uncoachable, you will learn how to help them gain an awareness of what can derail their career and discover new approaches that will be an asset to them and their organization rather than a liability.
If you are like most coaches you’ve spent a good deal of time and resources developing your skills. Of course, you want to put your skills to work for your coachees but you also want to gain personal advancement in your career or coaching practice. You’ve invested a lot to get where you are today and just like any investment, you want to maximize your Return on Investment (ROI). But what is the best way to maximize your coaching skills ROI?
One of the traps coaches fall into is taking a narrow view of what a coach is and what opportunities exist. When most people think of becoming a coach they think of coaching individuals within an organization or one on one sessions within a coaching practice. Today I’d like to challenge you to think ‘Outside the Box’ when you think about what you can do with your coaching skills and expertise.
Of course, you can have the formal title and role of coach but don’t stop there. You can also leverage your coaching skills informally as you work with individuals, teams and direct reports. As you apply your coaching skills in these informal settings you are developing and exhibiting attributes that will help you develop leadership skills that will position you for advancement.
Another option for leveraging your coaching skills is to add coaching educator or trainer to your toolkit. Coaches I talk with don’t automatically think of this option but it can be a great way to leverage your skills and improve your ROI.
When you become a coaching educator, you take on the role of educating others, helping them to develop coaching skills rather than coaching per se. Of course, a coaching educator uses his/her coaching skills in the education process.
Here are just a few benefits of becoming a coaching educator;
- Add an additional source of income if you have a coaching practice
- Add an additional skill to your resume if you work within an organization
- Reach more people, help to put coaching skills in the hands of more people
- Develop trainer skills which are very valuable and different than coaching skills
- Develop presentation skills
- Develop group facilitation skills
- Ability to do some training virtually, giving you more flexibility
- See coaching make a difference in more people’s lives
For more insights on leveraging your coaching skills we have a few different resources for you to check out;
As we’ve discussed in previous articles – there is a lot more to success in coaching than excellent coaching skills. This month we will pull the curtain back on The Business of Coaching taking a close look at the biggest challenges faced by coaching practitioners and strategies for overcoming these potential roadblocks. This pertains to coaching practitioners both external (Solopreneur) and internal (working within an organization) as well as those who have blended the two.
To get a well-rounded picture of coaching challenges I have pulled a few stats from the 2016 ICF Global Coaching Study.
Insights from the 2016 ICF Global Coaching Study
The study was commissioned in 2015 by the International Coach Federation (ICF) and undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers. There were 15,380 valid survey responses from 137 countries. Following are a few interesting stats from this study about the business of coaching.
- The coaching industry has evolved into a coaching continuum that includes internal and external coach practitioners as well as managers/leaders who use coaching skills in the workplace. An individual may exist on multiple points along the continuum.
- It is estimated that there are 53,300 professional coach practitioners worldwide. Western Europe accounts for the largest share (35%), followed closely by North America, with an estimated 33% share.
- Average annual revenue of coach practitioners is $51,000. In North America, the average is $61,900.
- The estimated global total revenue from coaching in 2015 was $2.356 billion USD, representing a 19% increase over the 2011 estimate.
When asked to identify the biggest obstacle for coaching over the next 12 months, the main concern expressed by coach practitioners was untrained individuals who call themselves coaches. The chart below presents the percent of respondents who named a particular obstacle.
Respondents were also asked about future opportunities. Increased Awareness of the Benefits of coaching was the top response. Additional responses, expressed as a percent of respondents who mentioned a particular opportunity, are presented below.
Strategies to Overcome Challenges
The top obstacles and opportunities can be used in developing your strategies for success. Set yourself apart by getting quality training and then make sure everyone knows about your education, training and credentials. Capitalize on the increased awareness that coaching works. Cite the literature and develop your own case studies that provide real world examples of how coaching is making a difference.