Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Stop Using Coaching Models

A coaching model is not a coaching session. GROW, or whatever else you might use, is not a substitute for a coaching interaction any more than scaffolding is a substitute for a building.

Scaffolding provides a safe structure within which the building can be constructed, but once the building can stand on its own foundations, the scaffolding is taken away. It’s only put back when the building needs major work or expansion.

You are that building. The scaffolding is your coaching model.
The purpose of the coaching model is to teach you how to coach in a particular way. You’re not supposed to carry on using the model. You’re supposed to learn an approach and then forget the approach.

If you carry on using a coaching model, you are not paying attention to your client. Your primary focus is on your model, and fitting your client into it.
This isn’t what the creators of coaching models intended, but for most clients and most coaches, it’s good enough, so why change it?



A coaching model is a greatly simplified, generalised, limited description of a ‘typical’ coaching interaction. I’m sure you can see the problem here – you don’t have any ‘typical’ clients. However, that’s only a problem if you believe that the model is there to be followed after you’ve mastered the approach that it represents. If you stick to the model, you have to make your clients fit into the process that it defines, otherwise the model breaks down.

How can you coach someone using GROW if they don’t have a goal? You might say that if they don’t have a goal then they’re not a candidate for coaching and they should think about an alternative intervention. However, many coaches operate within a corporate environment, where coaching is selected as one of a range of development options for staff. A manager is appointed a coach, but he doesn’t have any goals that he wants to work on. The coach goes round in circles trying to explore the client’s goals, and the client is happy to take an hour’s break from his job. The coach gets paid, the manager gets a break and the HR department are satisfied that they are providing an innovative support service for their business.

However, does this offer the sponsor a good Return On Investment? Are they getting their money’s worth out of the coaching? Is it actually helping anyone? It’s helping the sponsor and the coach. The client is not getting any value from it, and isn’t the client’s value our main concern as coaches?

An excellent coach, free from the constraints of the coaching model, might take a different approach. She might ask the manager why he agreed to attend a coaching session even though he had no goals. After all, he must have known that coaching is goal-oriented, so he must want something...





This article is an extract from the course workbook for my brand new, SNLP certified Certificate in Advanced Coaching Practice. The workbook, entitled 'Coaching Excellence' will be available by itself by the end of April through all good bookstores, ISBN 978-0-9565358-6-3

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