There’s been more of an emphasis on coaching. Who in here is already a certified coach of some sort? Be it a CSC, IMA, CPCC, or some other coaching certification, who has a certification? Anybody?
“Educated yes, certified not.”
Okay, that's fine. So how many people are Agile coaches and you're coaching today?
What I'm going to go over first off a little bit about me. I'm Gary Bamberger. Got lots of initials. This picture was taken of me in Germany. I was a very happy camper in Germany. I got a beer, it was awesome. This year I'm hoping that I can sample a little more of the Czech beer because I hear it's awesome as well. I do lots of stuff. I have a website. End of that.
So here's what we're doing today: we're going to go over coaching definitions, we're going to define what coaching is and how it’s different than mentoring. Then we're going to talk about common coaching skills; these are coaching skills that come out of my certification, CPCC. So it's actually skills that I'm pulling forward from there that I use every day in my coaching practice coaching Agile teams as well as in every other aspect of my life. I just find that I put on my coaching hat and next thing you know, away we go. And then we're going to talk about the coaching session structure, and then all of y'all are going to get to practice coaching. We'll break up into small teams of three people, so you experience coaching and practice some of these skills. That's the plan. Got it? Alright, so let's start.
So what is coaching? The International Coaching Federation says it is really a partnership where our goal is to inquire and work with a client in order to figure out how we motivate this person. How do we get them to realize their potential? So it's a big thing around focusing on an area where the client is stuck. Maybe it's a problem that the client is having. And what our goal is as coaches is to help that client move forward, whether it's through action items or whether it's through some sort of inquiry that they need to sit with for some period of time.
Our goal is to help them to move forward. Forward motion, right? Coaching differs from psychology. Psychology and and all of that tends to look at past things. We are very focused on moving forward. Your baggage is your baggage, we’ll deal with if we need to but our focus is really on “how do you move forward?” So our priority is to focus on the client. What kind of vision do they have? What are their priorities? What are their values? And it's really important to get in touch with people's values. What is it that they value as a person and does that actually align with what the team values? Does that actually align with what the organization values?
Coaching is really about us supporting people in finding their own answers; we don't have to solve their problems for them. We believe as coaches that people are naturally resourceful, creative, and whole. They're not broken. We are there just to help expand their thinking, maybe look at different perspectives, things like that in order for them to solve their own problems. And so our focus isn't on fixing their problems for them. Our focus is really solely on “how do we help them to figure out their own solution?” Got it?
One other thing I'll talk about is coaching versus mentors. So mentoring there is usually a relationship. What kind of relationship would that be? Well, it would be between a protege or a mentee and a mentor, somebody who's been there, done that and can help in advancing. There’s a lot of advice that might be given there. There's a lot of input from the mentors to the mentee.
That's not what we're doing in coaching. We are not there to give them advice per se; we are there to enable them to figure out their own solutions. Anybody here ever just want to vent to somebody and the other person starts fixing your problem for you? Anybody have that? Right? This is a lot about allowing the person to vent and then helping them to move forward, asking them questions, and giving them structures with which they can move forward and move out of the stuck position. Where they’re venting and can actually move into an action of more proactive type of mindset.
There's a lot of different coaching models that exist out there. This is the one that I went through. There are no right or wrong answers with regards to the coaching models, this is the one that I know the best, so that's the one that I’m pulling from. There's a lot of overlap between the different coaching models; you just need to know that there's more than one way to do this. So we’re going to dive right into coaching skills.
Coaching Skill #1: Powerful Questions
The first coaching skill that is probably the best coaching skill, or the one in my toolbox that I use the most, is powerful questions. They are questions that emanate from curiosity, not from judgment. So I'm naturally curious, I'm channeling my inner two-year-old if you will. I'm really into “What's making this person tick? What are they thinking of? What’s going around that?” Curiosity to me really opens up the conversation, opens up my ability to serve the person that I'm working with.
I also find that typically people have thought things through to a certain level so the first couple of answers to the questions I ask come out rote. They've already thought about that. It's when you get into like the fourth and fifth and sixth questions that you're in new territory. It's like something new for them to think about because they've already thought about all the other stuff, now they're into new territory. So that's where I tend to see where people are and what I see as they're creating those new thoughts and new connections in their minds. So, what are some examples of open-ended questions or powerful questions that we could ask? Okay, this is the part where you guys participate. Is this thing on? Hello?
“What other people are thinking about your problem?”
What other people are thinking about your problem? Right. Is it a team thing or is it an individual thing? Great question.
“What do you want to achieve by doing this work or project?”
Awesome, what do you want to achieve? Excellent. What else?
“Why do you want to do it?”
That's a really great. I'm glad somebody brought that up. So “why”--we tend to tread very lightly in the whys. Why would we do that? Because “why” people almost get defensive. Depending on the situation we tend to shy away from the why. We want to avoid people getting into that defensive “well I’m doing it because of this!”
“How do you feel?”
How do you feel? Absolutely, and “where do you feel that in your body?” So, did anybody here present already today? Okay, so, if you presented, how did you feel? “Well, I felt butterflies,” right? How did you feel? Okay?
“I felt relaxed.”
You felt relaxed?
“I’ve done this before.”
There you go so having that prior experience absolutely helps. Open-ended questions, typically beginning with what or how, are the sweet spot. Once you get into it and you’ve built that relationship with the person, absolutely, you can ask those why questions. Avoid them from a judgment perspective though. You have to ask those from a curiosity perspective. Have to put on your curiosity hat.
Okay, there's handouts. Use the handouts to jot down some ideas of what some of the good open-ended questions are and you can use these as we go through. When you guys are doing your labs, you're actually experimenting with this, then you can use them to write down good questions or things that really landed well with the other person. That’s a key thing with this as well is you need to read the other person. When I ask a question, I tend to see how it landed for the other person. Maybe it wasn't the right question, but the key is I'm only going to ask one at a time. I struggled with this when I first started doing coaching. I used to ask, like, five questions, all at once and then the person's like “Okay, which one you want me to answer” - pick one so, so you know, being crispy clear, asking a question and then moving on from there is good.
Coaching Skill #2: Silence
Alright, the next coaching skill is silence. It’s okay to have silence, especially if you get to that fifth level of questioning where they're thinking new thoughts. Not everybody thinks really fast. As a matter of fact, if you ask my wife, I answer exceptionally slowly, okay?
She’s like, “Make some kind of noise if you're awake,” right? I don't think quickly. I’ve gotta mole things out and I’ve gotta think them through and the synapses are not firing all the time, especially after all the wine I drank last night. So this is the thing: allow for silence. It's okay. Let there be silence. There's nothing wrong with it.
Coaching Skill #3: Listening
The next coaching skill is listening and this is one of the most important skills Listening for what’s said, how it’s said, the energy behind it, et cetera. So there's three levels of listening.
The first level of listening is self-absorbed. So I've had many conversations with my wife where she's talking to me and I'm thinking all about me and I'm thinking about how this impacts me. I'm thinking about other things that are focused on me. That's called level one listening: your focus is internal.
Level 2 listening is where you're listening to what is actually being said by the other person, you're actually paying attention, you're listening to the words, you’re understanding what's going, you might even be probing for better understanding.
The third level of listening, level 3 listening, is called global listening, and this is where you're reading more than just what’s being said. You're actually listening to the tone, you're listening to the cadence of the words that are coming out, how they change their cadence. Is there an ebb and flow in what's being talked about? You’re looking at facial expressions, you're looking at micro facial expressions, like the eyebrow twitch.
That's the place where I dive in. I do that when I train people because I do a lot of training. I'll just sit there and I’ll look at somebody and I'll be like “Okay, so, what's going on in your mind right now? Because you have this expression on your face and I just got to know what's going on.”
So those are the kinds of things we're looking for here. We're looking for that deep, deep listening. Anybody here work with remote teams? So you go offshore or somewhere else. This skill is huge when you're dealing with remote teams. You gotta listen for when there's the big delay and then probe.
There's really a premium put on the listening skills, by the way. How much of our communication is the words that we actually use? That one, first, yeah, it's like seven, seven to ten percent, depends on who you read. How much of it is the body language like 50 percent and then tone is the other 43 or 40 percent. So the words that we use when we have a requirements documents that we write are only conveying seven percent of the information. Everything else is outside of that, so we have to be clear on this, and we want to actually be listening globally. That's the best place to be. Good, alright, moving on.
Coaching Skill #4: Reflecting and Noticing
Reflecting and noticing, then. So, reflecting is really seeing what's happening. Just like I said, when I'm training somebody and somebody has this look on their face, all I’m doing is reflecting back. So “What's going on for you right now?” I'll open it up with a powerful question, like “What's going on with you?” Open-ended powerful questions get to answers. There are no wrong answers to that. Then we open up the dialogue around “What are we doing? What are we doing right? Where are you at? How can we move you forward?” Reflecting and noticing. What's happening in that specific moment is a great tool because then you can even dig a little deeper into what that person is thinking or contemplating.
Coaching Skill #5: Interrupting
Interrupting is another tool that I use. Have you ever had a conversation with somebody where they just go on and on and on and on? So this is where interrupting comes in. So, I will interrupt with either a powerful question of some kind of reflection. I've had coaching clients where I said “You know, I'm really bored right now, are you bored with going on and on and on with what you're doing?” “What are you talking about?” Great, I'm just calling him out. “Hey, I'm really bored here, this is not fun. I'm listening to you whine.” Remember, no whining this morning, right? No whining.
So, again, I'm focused on serving the client, noticing what's happening, and helping them to move forward. “What’s your current state? How are we moving forward? What do we need to do to resolve?” So, interrupting is a good skill.
Coaching Skill #6: Acknowledging
Acknowledging. We want to acknowledge people for how they're being and what they're doing. So, there's two sides of people: there's the being side and there's the doing side. We want to acknowledge both sides. We want to make sure that we’re acknowledging people for who they are being, and how that is true to who they are or true to their own values. So, again, it's a tool that we can use to really drive home that they are being seen in the moment, that we know who they are, and we're giving them a pat on the back. It goes a long way.
Those are the tools that I’m going to go through in the coaching structure here, the session structure, then I'm going to show you a video that is demonstrating coaching, and then you guys are actually going to go coach.
A coaching session structure is like this: first, you need to find a topic. What is it you want to talk about, what is it that’s important to you? It could be a problem, it could be some place that you're stuck in your life, it could be a situation that you ran into with somebody else, there's a lot of things out there. It could be anything. So the idea is to start out with the topic, to find what the topic is, then we get into the coaching skills.
So, all of the skills that I just talked about are the things that you're going to use. Again, they're all on the sheets for those of you who have a sheet. It looks like not everybody has one.
Powerful questions, interrupting, all those. So, we're actually dancing in the moment with the client, we're actually working with them, we're putting things out there, we're responding, we're reading the energy, we're reading how they're interacting with us, all of those things are happening and then at the end of the session what we're really looking for is a commitment. What are you going to do to move yourself forward? What are you going to do?
Because what's the definition of insanity?
Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So it's not enough just to whine about it or complain about it or recognize it. We need to figure out what we're going to do to move forward from it. So what is it that you're going to do? What are you committing to do? Oh, and by the way, when are you going to have that done? It's not enough to commit to do something, you often need a time box. We’ve got to make sure that we're focused on getting things done and we're focused on moving forward with actions.
So that's the structure for a coaching session. It's really pretty easy and the way to get good at this is to practice. So I'm going to show a short video, it's like five minutes. What I want you to do is think about the skills that we just went over and what skills you see during this sample coaching session.
Woohoo! You guys need more coffee?
“What a powerful question”