No time to coach?

When working with clients’ managers who have been signed up (usually by their line manager!) for a Coaching for Performance type workshop, I often hear things like “I don’t have enough time for this”, “I can’t sit down in a quiet space every time I want to discuss something, it’s not practical”, “You mean I have to ask questions and not give any direction …”  All fair comments?  I wish to share with you an experience I had as the facilitator of a group of senior leaders who were recently on one of our ‘Leader as Coach’ workshops who were saying just that.    

Having invested time developing the core skills of good conversation (listening, questioning, connection and feedback) we moved on to putting these into practice in a 3 minute coaching exercise.  There was much resistance to this idea.  I shared a specific example of how having worked with a large supermarket chain recently we had developed a ‘Coaching-on-the-go’ approach for their store managers, and as a result performance had been transformed in many of their stores.  Participants were still sceptical.  As most learning takes place via a practical experience, I decided it was time to launch in to the exercise and see what happened!

The group were split into pairs, asked to imagine they were leaving the office for the evening and walking together to reach their cars (it can often work best when we are walking together) and I put 3 minutes on the clock.  What happened I hear you ask?  Much to the group’s surprise, the 3 minutes felt much longer and every single pair managed to achieve a positive outcome for each other.  So somehow they’d found the time, the space and achieved something practical – and all in three minutes or less.  So much for their objections! The group then discussed how they had each managed to achieve such a great result in so little time.  The steps below are a summary of what they discovered about “How to approach a ‘short burst’ coaching opportunity“:

  • Take a deep breath and decide to be ‘present’
  • Have your head up in order to spot an opportunity
  • Act on this
  • Frame the conversation positively
  • Check out wants and needs
  • Insert a future focused question towards the end of the conversation

 Easy, simple, and all in under 3 minutes!  So no more excuses please! If we were being honest with ourselves, we all have time during our working day to pay attention differently (it can take as little as 3 minutes, and as in the example above can be as a result of taking advantage of apparently dead time).  Give it a go and let us know how you get on.  I think you’ll be surprised by the results. 

To explore this further please contact me, Gail Lineham on 01306 621600 or email [email protected] 




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