I Don't Need a Boss ... I Need a Coach

Trillions - - In This Issue - By Dr. Chance T. Ea­ton

The work­force is chang­ing. Ac­cord­ing to re­cent Gallup re­search (2017), em­ploy­ees’ wants and needs are shift­ing from trans­ac­tional to trans­for­ma­tional. For ex­am­ple, em­ploy­ees used to have greater con­cern for the pay­check, but to­day they are more con­cerned about hav­ing a job with pur­pose; they used to be sat­is­fied with an an­nual re­view, but to­day they want on­go­ing con­ver­sa­tions and feed­back; they used to fo­cus on weak­nesses, but to­day they want to fo­cus on strengths; they used to be mo­ti­vated to have a good job, but to­day it is about hav­ing a good life. Fi­nally, em­ploy­ees used to be com­fort­able with the tra­di­tional or­ga­ni­za­tional hi­er­ar­chy and re­port­ing to a boss; to­day they don’t want a di­rec­tive and au­thor­i­ta­tive boss – they want a coach. Coach­ing re­ally is “the Boss 2.0”; its up­grades are cen­tered on pur­pose, on­go­ing di­a­logue, strength-based de­vel­op­ment and holis­tic liv­ing. In the fol­low­ing ar­ti­cle, I will dif­fer­en­ti­ate coach­ing from other pro­fes­sional prac­tices and di­a­logue ap­proaches as well as pro­vide a frame­work for ef­fec­tive coach­ing, called the GROW per­for­mance coach­ing model.

Is Men­tor­ing the Same as Coach­ing?

Pro­fes­sion­ally, men­tor­ing is of­ten con­fused with coach­ing, teach­ing and con­sult­ing. Though men­tor­ing may in­clude as­pects of th­ese pro­fes­sions, it is unique in that it is more di­rec­tive than coach­ing but less struc­tured than teach­ing or con­sult­ing. The fol­low­ing are brief de­scrip­tions of dif­fer­ent pro­fes­sional ap­proaches:

Ther­a­pists are trained in ex­plor­ing holis­tic pat­terns and themes that re­late to and ex­pose psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress; treat­ment is pro­vided over a long pe­riod of time.

Coun­selors are skilled in ex­plor­ing clearly ar­tic­u­lated life chal­lenges and iden­ti­fy­ing cop­ing skills; treat­ment is pro­vided over a shorter pe­riod of time.

Coaches are likely not sub­ject-mat­ter ex­perts but are skilled in struc­tur­ing goal work and artis­tic in build­ing a trust­ing re­la­tion­ship. Their suc­cess is de­ter­mined by the em­ployee or client’s abil­ity to suc­cess­fully achieve their goals.

Men­tors are ex­pe­ri­enced and sea­soned in­dus­try veter­ans work­ing with a pro­tégé (mentee) to pro­vide ad­vice, guid­ance and ca­reer de­vel­op­ment.

Teach­ers act as highly spe­cial­ized sub­ject-mat­ter ex­perts and con­duct one-way com­mu­ni­ca­tion us­ing what are usu­ally re­searched prac­tices.

Con­sul­tants are sub­ject-mat­ter ex­perts that pro­vide so­lu­tions to iden­ti­fied chal­lenges, of­ten without a full un­der­stand­ing of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s nu­ances.

It is nor­mal for a trained per­for­mance coach to blend sev­eral of th­ese ap­proaches into their prac­tice; the im­por­tant point is to know where you are in the moment and where you be­long in the moment and to not go where you aren’t trained. I’ve seen un­trained pro­fes­sional coaches un­know­ingly dip into the coun­sel­ing role, un­earthing per­sonal is­sues that they aren’t trained to deal with. This can re­sult in greater prob­lems and chal­lenges for the em­ployee or coachee. I have also seen un­trained coaches ac­tu­ally teach and con­sult and call their process coach­ing when, in fact, all they have been do­ing is of­fer­ing up their own so­lu­tions to the em­ployee’s chal­lenges. There is noth­ing wrong with mov­ing up and down this con­tin­uum, de­pend­ing on what the sit­u­a­tion is; but it is ex­tremely im­por­tant to know where you are in the moment and where you be­long in the moment and to not go where you aren’t trained.

Coach­ing Skills: The GROW Model

Since we are see­ing a re­place­ment of out­dated man­age­ment models in the work­place, it makes sense that cur­rent and fu­ture lead­ers learn the ba­sics of coach­ing. One method I like to teach is called the GROW per­for­mance coach­ing model. It is a struc­tured method for both goal set­ting and prob­lem solv­ing. First pub­lished in 1992 by John Whit­more, it is one of the most pop­u­lar coach­ing models used to­day.

GROW stands for the fol­low­ing com­po­nents: Goal, Re­al­ity, Ob­sta­cles & Op­tions, and Will & Way For­ward. The fol­low­ing is a deeper de­scrip­tion of each com­po­nent, along with an ex­am­ple.

Goal: The goal is the end point, the de­sired out­come, the ex­pec­ta­tion, the fu­ture des­ti­na­tion – “what you want.” The best way to fully ar­tic­u­late a goal is to use an al­ready pop­u­lar goal frame­work called SMART (Spe­cific, Mea­sur­able, At­tain­able Stretch, Re­al­is­tic, Time­line/mile­stones) goals. Sorry to throw an­other acro­nym and model at you, but this is one of the sim­plest ways of de­scrib­ing the goal process. In fact, I use the SMART goal frame­work with ev­ery em­ployee and client I work with.

Coach: “So last week we agreed that one of your goals for 2017 would be the cre­ation of an an­nual de­part­ment re­port. Let’s re­view that goal again.”

Em­ployee: “Here is what I have drafted so far. What are your thoughts?”

Spe­cific: Goals should ex­plain ex­actly which spe­cific ac­tions/be­hav­iors and re­sults the em­ployee will ac­com­plish.

Ex­am­ple of Spe­cific: De­velop an an­nual de­part­ment re­port to in­clude mean­ing­ful met­rics, team ac­com­plish­ments, risk/op­por­tu­nity as­sess­ment and plan­ning and prof­itabil­ity re­ports.

Mea­sur­able: Goals should be mea­sur­able with data, ob­ser­va­tions or other ver­i­fi­able in­for­ma­tion.

Ex­am­ple of Mea­sur­able: “Meets Ex­pec­ta­tions” is a com­pleted an­nual de­part­ment re­port by De­cem­ber 31; “Ex­ceeds Ex­pec­ta­tions” is “Meets” plus in­cludes five-year met­ric trend­ing and peer com­par­isons.

At­tain­able Stretch: Goals should be at­tain­able yet stretch one’s po­ten­tial so there is a feel­ing of chal­lenge and psy­cho­log­i­cal ten­sion (eu­stress). They should cre­ate long-term eco­nomic value for the com­pany and be sig­nif­i­cant enough that other team mem­bers can clearly ar­tic­u­late what you achieved dur­ing the goal pe­riod.

Ex­am­ple of At­tain­able Stretch: The an­nual de­part­ment re­port would cre­ate long-term eco­nomic value for the com­pany by pro­vid­ing other com­pany em­ploy­ees and stake­hold­ers with greater de­part­men­tal trans­parency and recog­ni­tion, thus al­low­ing for more in­volve­ment from the com­pany as a whole. Fur­ther, it will al­low the de­part­ment to gain greater per­spec­tive on its own value propo­si­tion.

Re­al­is­tic: Goals should be re­al­is­tic within the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s re­sources (cur­rent and lack­ing), time (avail­abil­ity and ef­fects on other job func­tions) and bud­get (fi­nan­cial im­pli­ca­tions).

Ex­am­ple of Re­al­is­tic: The an­nual de­part­ment re­port will not af­fect the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s re­sources or bud­get, but it will take a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time to be de­vel­oped by team mem­bers. The goal is es­ti­mated to be a to­tal of 100 hours to de­velop the first re­port, which will have to be fac­tored into work sched­ules.

Time­line/mile­stones: Goals should have spe­cific time tar­gets (when it/they be­gin/end, ma­jor mile­stones and check­points along the way).

Ex­am­ple of Time­line/mile­stones: Jan­uary 10 to May 15 for met­ric re­search (in­ves­ti­gate and iden­tify mean­ing­ful met­rics for the de­part­ment); Jan­uary 1 to Jan­uary 15 for team accomplishment of log cre­ation (de­velop accomplishment log to be pro­vided to all team mem­bers); Jan­uary 10 to Novem­ber 1 for track­ing team ac­com­plish­ments (all em­ploy­ees will log ma­jor ac­com­plish­ments); Oc­to­ber 15 and 16 for risk/op­por­tu­nity as­sess­ment (fa­cil­i­tate an off-site as­sess­ment and fu­ture ac­tion plan­ning); Novem­ber 15 for hav­ing the risk/op­por­tu­nity ac­tion plan com­plete (sum­ma­rize find­ings and ac­tion plan­ning); July 15 to Oc­to­ber 1 for an­nual re­port tem­plate cre­ation (ex­plore dif­fer­ent re­port­ing tem­plates); Novem­ber 15 for draft an­nual re­port com­pi­la­tion (col­lect all in­for­ma­tion and be­gin en­ter­ing it into the tem­plate); De­cem­ber 31 for prof­itabil­ity re­ports (ob­tain year-end fi­nan­cials from ac­count­ing); Jan­uary 1 for fi­nal an­nual re­port sub­mis­sion to CEO.

Re­al­ity: This rep­re­sents the cur­rent re­al­ity, the state of things – “where you are now.” The re­al­ity pro­vides a nice con­trast to where a per­son wants to be.

Coach: “Your goal is well ar­tic­u­lated. Can you share with me where you are to­day?”

Em­ployee: “Ev­ery­thing is on sched­ule ex­cept for the met­rics. I’m find­ing that there is a lot of po­ten­tial data to col­lect, and this is putting me a bit be­hind sched­ule … but ev­ery­thing else looks to be on track.”

Ob­sta­cles & Op­tions: This ex­plores why the re­al­ity is not lin­ing up with the goal – “what is in your way and how you may over­come it.” There are typ­i­cally is­sues and chal­lenges that arise, and it is im­por­tant to spend suf­fi­cient time ex­plor­ing what the ob­sta­cles are and, more im­por­tant, to ex­plore how to go about find­ing the right so­lu­tions.

Coach: “Ev­ery­thing is on track ex­cept for the met­rics. Tell me more about there be­ing a lot of po­ten­tial data to col­lect.”

Em­ployee: “I have iden­ti­fied that there are at least 20 dif­fer­ent data points I could col­lect, and that is way too much to re­port to the CEO. I need to get this down to four or five that are mean­ing­ful to our busi­ness.”

Coach: “I can see how four or five would be eas­ier to re­port and in­ter­pret. Are there a few met­rics that are jump­ing out at you right now and seem more sig­nif­i­cant? Are there pos­si­bil­i­ties for ra­tio met­rics? That is a com­mon way to in­ter­pret com­plex data.”

Em­ployee: “You know, now that I think of it, there are two met­rics that jump out, and I never re­ally thought about ra­tio met­rics. Let me think more about that. You know one thing I haven’t yet done is visit with other spe­cial­ists in the com­pany. Come to think of it, Stacey in Fi­nance knows my side of the busi­ness very well. I won­der if I should go back and pick her brain.”

Will & Way For­ward: The fi­nal in­gre­di­ent of GROW coach­ing in­volves mo­ti­va­tion and in­spi­ra­tion – “how you will get there.” This step is about re­mem­ber­ing what the goal is all about to be­gin with, why it is im­por­tant and es­tab­lish­ing ac­count­abil­ity to do what you said you would do.

Coach: “Speak­ing to Stacey sounds like a good idea. So tell me what your plans are for mov­ing for­ward.”

Em­ployee: “I’m go­ing to visit with Stacey first.”

Coach: “When are you go­ing to do that?”

Em­ployee: “I’m go­ing to email her right af­ter we are done and share with her what I need. Maybe I’ll even take her out for a cof­fee to help get the cre­ativ­ity flow­ing.”

Coach: “That sounds ex­cel­lent. Let’s meet up again in two weeks for a check-in, and I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing if you have iden­ti­fied your four to five met­rics for your an­nual de­part­ment re­port. Good job, too, with think­ing of other re­sources. It’s funny how of­ten we get stuck in our own head and for­get to look out!”

Per­for­mance coach­ing is noth­ing more than help­ing an em­ployee or coachee to think out loud in a struc­tured format so they can reach their goals. The ac­tual work is on the em­ployee or the coachee; the per­for­mance coach is sim­ply an ob­jec­tive, car­ing, in­quir­ing re­source to keep an em­ployee on track and un­leash their po­ten­tial for suc­cess. Per­for­mance coach­ing can help your em­ploy­ees de­velop ini­tia­tive, ac­count­abil­ity, re­spon­si­bil­ity and self-con­fi­dence.

By help­ing an em­ployee de­velop their own goals, ex­plore the cur­rent re­al­ity, an­a­lyze ob­sta­cles and op­por­tu­ni­ties and, fi­nally, un­cover their in­trin­sic mo­ti­va­tion to move for­ward, you are truly ex­press­ing what it means to coach. We need to re­mem­ber that the work­force is chang­ing and em­ploy­ees have spo­ken loud and clear. They don’t need a boss … they need a coach.

Whit­more, J. (1992). Coach­ing for Per­for­mance: GROW­ING Hu­man Po­ten­tial and Pur­pose – The Prin­ci­ples and Prac­tices of Coach­ing and Lead­er­ship. Naperville: Ni­cholas Brealey Pub­lish­ing.

Wigert, B., & Harter, J. (2017). Re-en­gi­neer­ing Per­for­mance Man­age­ment. Gallup, Inc. Re­trieved at gallup.com/re­ports/208811/re-en­gi­neer­ing-per­for­mance-man­age­ment. aspx

Dr. Chance Ea­ton has over a decade’s worth of ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in the field of learn­ing and or­ga­ni­za­tional de­vel­op­ment. Due to his unique ed­u­ca­tional and work ex­pe­ri­ences in fi­nance, psy­chol­ogy, lead­er­ship and man­age­ment, ed­u­ca­tion, noetic sciences and agri­cul­ture, Dr. Ea­ton pro­vides his clients with rel­e­vant busi­ness so­lu­tions grounded in the­ory and re­search. To learn more about Dr. Ea­ton’s ser­vices, visit Hr­so­lu­tion­sin­ter­na­tional.com.

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