Outward and Broader – Two Things We Do

Tom GibbonsCoaching, Organization Development3 Comments

In our last post we reflected on our experience at the OD Network conference in Seattle in October.  One of the key reflections was that we think it would be of value for OD practitioners to go outward and broader in their efforts to improve performance in the work they do to offset the much more common inner and deeper approach of the psychotherapeutic model.

In this post we will take a brief look at a couple of things we do in our work that go outward and broader.  

Short Duration Coaching

The first is short duration one-to-one coaching that wraps up with a team session with the individual’s immediate team or work group.  The basic design is as follows:

  1. Agreement to move forward and objective setting.
  2. Identification of another internal resource for the participant to work with in addition to us as their coach.  The role of this person is to act as an immediate resource for the participant regarding the achievement of their coaching objectives during their daily interactions.
  3. Data gathering – using individual and 360 assessments.
  4. Five, 45 – 60 minute phone debriefs with the participant.
  5. Data gathering with the team – using a team 360 assessment.
  6. Half day on site session with the team using their own data – note: it is here where the individual participant articulates what she/he has learned from the one-to-one coaching and actively applies that learning in a transparent fashion throughout the half day session and ongoing.

The key difference in this coaching model and where it receives the most resistance from coaching practitioners is the transparency of the work.  Transparency and interaction regarding what is happening is critical right from the initial identification of an additional internal resource for the person to work with, through to the group session.  Certainly this level of transparency is not applicable to all coaching work but we have found that many, many coaching scenarios are kept unnecessarily hidden from the social and interactive realities in which the participant exists, to the real detriment of the changes the participant is trying to make.

Peer Coaching

The second example is management development where we form peer coaching/learning groups to focus on real work issues but seeing these issues through new concepts delivered to the participants.  This basic design is:

  1. Formation of an internal steering committee to oversee the process.
  2. Identification of management concepts to be worked with and formation of peer coaching/learning groups.
  3. Introduction of a formal structure for the group coaching meetings.
  4. Delivery of initial management concept and structure of the peer coaching group meetings. 
  5. Coaching groups meet weekly for 4 – 6 weeks.
  6. Replication of steps 3 and 4 usually 2 or 3 times.

The key difference with this design is that the coaching groups meet without any assistance from a formal coach.  The initial meeting structure enables the best use of the management concepts being worked with as well as constrains power dynamics.  Generally the groups work very well without any outside influence.  Many practitioners resist this saying the groups will need ‘expert facilitation’ but our experience does not support this.  The design recognizes the interactive nature of development and change and that people make sense of things as they work with concepts in real situations rather than being taught something outside of the context in which the learning will be applied.

Both designs are quite simple and de-emphasize the role of the ‘expert’ which is very much emphasized when the inner and deeper psychotherapeutic method is used.  Broader interaction and emergent learning are emphasized within the actual context in which that learning is applied.  We have also found that by de-emphasizing the role of expert, the change that occurs is more sustainable.  Interestingly, de-emphasizing the role of expert also seems to be where the most resistance comes from practitioners….

If you would like more information on these designs we have a paper on the group coaching/learning that you can access – http://bit.ly/78kF9s – or connect with us via a comment on this blog or email at inquiry@tms-americas.com

Author – Tom

3 Comments on “Outward and Broader – Two Things We Do”

  1. Tom, I’m really interested in your coaching ideas shared here. I’ve downloaded the paper so I can get more information. It would really help me to have some case studies for examples of how this was applied. Thanks again for the information

  2. Hi Joal,… good to hear from you and thanks for the comment. Near the end of the paper you have downloaded is the actual design of an initiative we worked with so it is a bit of a case study in itself. Here is a link to another case study that was with a smaller group and used slightly different concepts – http://bit.ly/4AzOAW – Earlier this year we also did a distance learning initiative on this design as well which was interesting and informed some of the blog post above. I would be happy to talk more if you are interested or have any thoughts or questions after reading the paper.

    The InterAction Coaching design is what we ‘publish’ as the design but it almost always has a few changes depending on the context. Again, more than happy to talk further.

  3. I must add some observations regarding how one group utilized the group/peer coaching experience described in this blog. One hour meetings with 4 to 6 relatively young, highly analytical individuals who loved the technical aspects of their work and were committed to doing a good job with their management responsibilities. Some were struggling with this part more than others – all had their strengths and challenges. The meeting structure enabled them to talk specifically about how the things they were learning (for example, the TMS Types of Work model or a specific delegating approach) were actually working (or not working) for them. They received immediate feedback, suggestions and support from their peers. They built capacity to continue similar conversations outside the formal meeting structure. Because the groups were self managing, these managers would not likely have noticed we were gone when our consultant role was finished. And we may not have recognized their meeting structure because it was changed over time by the groups themselves according to what made sense for them.

    Likely the best comment we have had on this work was when we were doing some breakfast meetings on the topic and a person from a company that did this with us showed up at the breakfast meeting. The work was done 2 years earlier and the first thing she said to the group was that the teams were still meeting!

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