Categories
Coaching

Coaching Tools – Model T

Miles Downey shares the simple ‘Model T’ tool in Effective Modern Coaching. It’s a really great way to get past the initial thoughts of a coachee, and to really dig into the issue that’s most important to them right now.

It’s a model to enable us to move further up the coaching spectrum, following interest rather than giving advice or guidance. It’s especially useful for novice coaches, who may find it easy to latch onto the first suggestion from a coachee, rather than spending time to explore other options.

If you find yourself jumping on the first suggestion offered by a coachee, starting to move into problem solving too soon or falling into mentoring modes, then pause and use this model to move back to a coaching posture.

The model has two stages, first we Expand, which forms the cross bar of a capital T. Here the questioning is aiming to put more options onto the table, empowering the coachee to share anything that may be of interest:

  • Tell me what else you notice?
  • What else?
  • One more thing?

Then we Focus, diving into the most important topic, the downstroke of the T. The questions are driving this focus, selecting the most relevant area for the coachee:

  • What’s most interesting?
  • What stands out?
  • What’s most important to you right now?

Use this simple model to help set the topic of a session, to expand on goals or options, or anywhere else you need to spend more time understanding the coachee’s thinking.

 

Categories
Coaching

Watch out for Why

When we’re coaching, we should find that the majority of our questions are Open, designed to trigger more conversation and to give the coachee the balance of time to share their meaning.

That means that we will prefer to use questions starting with words like What, When or How as these will tend to be answered with more than just a simple Yes or No response.

Why is also an Open question, but it comes with a warning label. If used incorrectly, it can sound as if the coach is accusing the coachee of something, or suggesting that their answers are not ideal.

“Why did you chose that option?” can be taken as an attack on the coachee, with an implicit assumption that the coach disapproves, or feels another choice would have been better. If this happens, then it can close down the coachee, and the coaching outcomes will be less successful.

We can mitigate this impact with careful use of tone and rapport, softening our approach to show a desire to understand rather than to judge. We can also choose to rephrase our questions, flipping a Why to a less strong term “What was your process when selecting that option?”.

If we want to shock the coachee into greater awareness or to cause some deeper reflection, then we can use a strong form of a Why question to trigger this thinking, but this should be approached with care.

So, with all this said, Why is a powerful tool in the toolbox of a coach. We shouldn’t be afraid to use it, but we should be considerate of the risks it may bring to the conversation and how it can alter the flow of a relationship with a coachee.

Categories
Coaching

Coaching Tools – Scaling

Scaling is a simple technique that you can bring to your coaching to unlock the coachee’s thinking about where they are now, versus where they want to be. Given the nature of the tool, it’s hard to pin down its initial origin, but it has strong history in various Solution Focused and Progress Focused approaches.

We open by asking the coachee “On a scale of 0 to 10, where do you currently rate yourself?”. The question should be tailored to their current goals or the topic of conversation. If the coachee wants to improve their public speaking skills, then the questions could be “On a scale of 0 to 10, how would you rate your ability to speak in public?”.

This question opens the conversation, with the aim of building a shared understanding.

We might next ask “On this same scale, where would you like to get to?”. It’s also useful to consider the extremes, “What does a 10 look like to you?”, “How about 0?”. This starts to give us a picture of the coachee’s thinking about this skill or area.

With the coachee’s scoring, it is important the coach doesn’t question the chosen score. Suggesting that the coachee should change their score, or rethink it, is likely to close the conversation, rather than open it. Far more useful is to question why a score was given “What is your thinking behind this 5?”.

Scaling can help us track goals, and also set steps towards achieving them. Starting at 2 and trying to jump to 9 may not be achievable, but the coachee can probably find some steps to take to move up in smaller increments, and you can shape this conversation as a coach, “What would it take to move to 4?”.

By revisiting the question over several sessions, we can build our understanding of how the coachee is approaching their goal, and show progress towards it. That can be a very powerful motivator in stepping up to the next level.

For some coachees, asking the questions may not be concrete enough. We can choose to sketch out the line along with the question, and mark the scores as we go. The physical representation can be very helpful in shaping the discussion, marking the paper can provide additional focus on the area.

As with all techniques, this may not work for you, or your specific coachee. It’s great to try it out, but if it’s not useful move on.

For those coachees that find benefit, I’ve tended to find it’s extremely powerful. Given the simplicity of deploying it, I’d very much advise every coach to consider it as part of their toolbox.