Coaching Map and Worksheets
We are pleased to offer a new tool for everyone who is finding value in “The Dialogue Deck.” We created the deck as part of our coaching work, and our intention was to provide a tool that anyone could use in working with their own coach or in working alone. The deck is intended to expose people to new and different language. The eight areas of content help individuals to focus on results they want to achieve, strengthen listening skills, develop powerful questions, share one’s own rationale, take different perspectives, negotiate agreements, disagree effectively and commit to action. Since many deck users are working alone, we realized it might be helpful to provide a map to help organize the application of new language in service to stated development goals.
We believe that coaching is a journey, and in support of that journey, we have created a coaching map. The map details seven steps. For each step, we have developed a worksheet to help you think through how you might best move forward. Each of the seven worksheets contains a number of questions that will provoke your thinking in regard to that specific step. There are certainly other questions that you may consider. We encourage you to reflect on the questions provided, have conversations with your coach or trusted colleagues and make note of additional questions that you discover. The worksheets are presented in a linear fashion beginning with “Capture Context.” Depending on your particular circumstances, you may make use of any of the worksheets and questions in whatever order best serves you.
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Building a Coaching Culture
As those of us in the field know, dialogue is at the heart of coaching. We live in language. From language, we hone in on one aspect of language ― dialogue. The Dialogue Deck addresses the key components of most significant conversations, providing meaningful examples to achieve desired outcomes. If we then take dialogue and use it within a coaching model, we have the makings of coaching conversations and the building of a continuous improvement culture.
Whether it is a formal coaching situation over several months or a quick coaching conversation in the company cafeteria, all steps of the 7 Cs Coaching Map are needed to fully take thoughts and feelings to action. The chart below further defines the components of the coaching map above. Following the chart is a case that further illustrates the model. Hope you find this useful and adaptable to your own coaching situations.
Capture the details and parameters of the situation by asking powerful questions that uncover the problems/opportunities to be explored.
- Assess the situation: use powerful questions and global listening
- Determine the best approach and ascertain roles, readiness and commitment
- Establish ground rules, rules of engagement, expectations and process
- Uncover problem or opportunity areas to explore
Clarify the specific goal(s) and objective(s) that the coachee wants to achieve.
- Pinpoint the exact issues and results the coachee wishes to achieve
- Determine performance versus potential
- Paint a picture of existing situation in contrast to desired results
- Consider data gathered through a variety of methods and use the data to further inform purpose and potential.
Gather data through methods that fit the situation: performance appraisals, observation, surveys, etc.
Sort data into themes
Add themes to purpose and objectives in order to enrich pathways and insights
Discuss perception versus reality and the consequences of doing nothing
Be straight “with care”
Create possible options for achieving the goals.
- Brainstorm on options
- Discuss pros and cons of different pathways
- Zero-in on most productive option(s) to pursue
- Discuss chosen option(s) in terms of future steps, reality testing, challenges and needed skills/knowledge
Construct a Plan
Construct an action plan, broken out into each objective, desired results, steps, benchmarks and field assignments.
- Construct an action plan with clear next steps that lead to desired results
- Consider benchmarks, homework tasks, practice assignments and measures of movement
Commit to Action
Commit to specific actions to practice and try in between each coaching meeting and/or until each desired goal is achieved.
- Refer and update action plan in between and at each coaching meeting
- Choose actions to pursue from one meeting to the next
- Paint a picture of present beliefs/behavior/results in contract to future beliefs/behaviors/results
- Develop winning strategies
- Manage ego, impatience, fear and other barriers and excuses
- Develop winning strategies
Celebrate each step forward, mapping progress, breakthroughs, continuous improvement, and both interim and final results.
- Track and assess progress with action plan and other behavior tools
- Enroll others to observe and give feedback
- Employ regular self-assessments
- Note both minor and major steps toward desired goals
- Reflect on and reinforce developed skills and behaviors supporting desired results
- Hardwire new behaviors and results into daily activities
- Practice “self-coaching”
Gail was a sales manager in charge of eight sales representatives across the mid-Atlantic region. She was getting frustrated because she would visit clients with each of her sales reps on a regular basis and then give advice and feedback. Unfortunately, on the next trip, she would note that the sales reps would make some of the same mistakes that she had pointed out previously. Having hired this crew herself, she knew they were bright and had the right sales characteristics. She also knew they were overworked and found it difficult to organize their daily visits and paperwork ― in addition to incorporating all of her advice. Having attended an excellent workshop on how to implement coaching into her management style, she decided to develop a more mindful approach. She studied her coaching materials and developed some worksheets, action plans, customer feedback sheets and tracking sheets as aids she could use in meeting with each rep.
Capture Context. Gail met with each of her representatives and presented the new approach. She explained that she wanted to start using a coaching approach to help each representative reach his/her full potential. She also described the method as being “less telling” and more questioning, role playing, suggesting, developing ideas, committing to actions, keeping a journal, updating action plans and reflecting on results. Gail also encouraged each rep to be fully “present” for each meeting and that she was going to be more focused in analyzing actions and results. Gail described her role as that of a guide and partner as they all sought to reach higher levels of performance for the division.
At this initial meeting, Gail asked each rep to personally commit to the process and to follow some ground rules such as “Either party will give 24-hour notice if a meeting needs to be cancelled” and “Both parties will come to each meeting fully prepped.” Gail also asked each rep to reflect on his/her performance over the last six months and to discuss strengths and areas in which they would like to improve. She also shared her own thoughts and tested those against each rep’s perception. She used powerful questions and straight talk as follows:
- What do you believe you do well as a rep?
- Walk me through a couple of scenarios of interacting with your clients and how you exhibit your strengths.
- What strategies do you use to do that so well?
- Now let’s imagine it is six months from now. What do you wish you could be doing even better? Play that out for me.
By using such behavioral dialogue, Gail was able to develop general areas to explore for coaching.
Clarify Purpose and Consider Data. On the information in her initial discussions, Gail gave each rep a worksheet to define further their areas of coaching exploration and to analyze available data to hone in on more specific objectives. As it turned out, each rep just had been given a 360 inventory on key job competencies and received their performance appraisals. Thus, the worksheet gave instructions on how to review these documents and extract and prioritize strengths and areas on which to work. At the next session with each rep, Gail reviewed the worksheets and, through dialogue, highlighted two things: 1) key areas on which to work and 2) existing strengths that could be leveraged in working on the areas to explore.
Create Options. The same meeting ― or for some reps, in a couple of meetings ― Gail used dialogue in order to discuss further each area to explore:
- What are some ways to improve the way you negotiate with the store managers?
- What would you have to do to fit this into your schedule?
- What resources could you use to help you?
- What would be your ultimate goal? Share with me a picture of you being a great negotiator?
- How long do you think it would take to reach such a goal? Consider the fact that you can’t just jump from “okay negotiator” to “fantastic negotiator.” What would some benchmarks be?
- What are your fears concerning negotiation? How might you overcome those fears?
- What do you think would happen if you never got better at negotiation?
Gail noted that the conversation tended to be different with each rep ― some jumping into the exploration with both feet and some needing more encouragement and pacing in terms of developing the future picture. Some of the reps needed a more iterative, back and forth, approach while others needed to be held back from taking on too much. With each conversation, Gail found herself getting better with the questions and dialogue. What was hard for her was moving from “telling” to “supporting and offering.”
Construct a Plan and Commit to Action. As Gail continued to meet with her reps, she guided each to develop a clear action plan, including each area to explore, specific objectives within that area, desired results, steps to achieve those results, benchmarked timeline, measures/criteria to ascertain achievement, supporting resources to assist the process, and actual “field practice” that needed to be taken in between each follow-up meeting. A typical example of this process is below.
Gail: I agree, working on negotiating skills would up your game in the way you have described. We have mapped out a three-month process for that to happen and discussed several activities that you can undertake and try. What do you feel you can try between now and our next meeting in two weeks?
Joe: Well, given that we honed in on the particular aspect of negotiation I need to master ― specifically “brainstorming win-win strategies,” ― it would behoove me to concentrate on that.
Gail: Very good point. What resources do you have at your disposal to get good at this?
Joe: Bob is excellent at this. I’d like to spend a day with him and just watch him.
Gail: I like the idea of you spending time with Bob. What ideas do you have for making that as productive as possible?
Joe: I’d like to review the negotiating module from the training we had a year ago and pinpoint four or five behaviors that support my area of need. Then maybe I can share those with Bob and let him know I’ll be looking for those.
Gail: That’s an excellent idea. What else could you do?
(Gail and Joe continue to work this through.)
Gail: That all sounds good. Let’s summarize what you are committing to make happen before our next meeting. You are going to review the negotiation module and also have a phone call with Tanya, a person you know who is excellent at negotiating deals. From this data, you are going to create a checklist of activities/behaviors you want to share with Bob, note what Bob does when spending the day with him, and then spend an hour with him reflecting on your notes at the end of the day. From there, you are going to develop a job aide that you will then use for your next three sales visits and you will write in your journal the results of using those new techniques. We will discuss that at our next meeting and then decide on the next steps you can take to further your learning, practice and results. Is this what you are committing to?
Joe: Yes. Exactly. I’m feeling good about this.
As it turned out, Joe struggled a bit with mastering negotiation skills. With further dialogue, it became evident that Joe believed meeting the customer’s need was the most important element of the sale and thus he found it difficult to create an “and” mindset ― basically, coming up with ideas that would meet BOTH the customer’s needs and his needs. Once he was able to shift his mindset, he began to grow stronger in using negotiating skills. Gail realized that Joe’s improvement could never have happened if she had used her old method of “Hey Joe, you have to get better at negotiation.”
Celebrate Success. After about three months, Gail noted that all of her reps were demonstrating significant improvement ― real achievement, not mere surface results. As her team grew stronger, she was able to cut the number of coaching sessions down to one every two months and to implement an innovative once a month team coaching session. The following dialogue between Gail and Joe demonstrates the celebrating success approach.
Gail: So how has it been going the past two weeks? What went well?
Joe: It has been a good week. All three of my customer interactions led to a win-win result. It’s the first time I’ve felt totally confident and wasn’t hesitating or second-guessing myself.
Gail: That’s terrific. So, on a scale from 1 (low) to 10 (high), how would you rate your negotiating skills?
Joe: Definitely an 8.
Gail: Do you remember how you rated yourself three months ago?
Joe: Ha. I think I thought I was about a 3.
Gail: Yep. That’s exactly what you said. Let’s look over the action steps you have taken since then. Look at this summary column in your action plan. What goes through your mind as you review your progress?
Joe: Seeing it all laid out like this, I must say I’m impressed with the progress I’ve made. It was hard work. I look at this notation ― I really botched up that interaction, remember? I’m so much stronger now.
Gail: What are some lessons you have learned about yourself from having gone through this process?
Joe continued to not only master negotiation, but also became quite adept at dialogue and coaching others. Gail began using Joe as one of the department coaches for new sales reps. And, interestingly enough, Gail was asked by the vice president to conduct a workshop to help other sales managers implement a coaching approach.
Thus, an entire company has moved to a coaching culture.
— Lisa Nabors & Virginia Bianco-Mathis, Strategic Performance Group