Coaching as Purposeful Conversation – Part Two

coaching as purposeful conversation 2You can read Part One of this blog article here

The two documents referred to are the PCC Markers (for Creating the Coaching Agreement) and the MCC information for this competency in the Competencies Comparison Table.

In this second part of the article, I give a sample dialogue between an MCC skill level Coach and a client, for establishing the coaching agreement. I’ll make comments as to which PCC Markers are at play. Notice how much more exploration is available if you are coaching at MCC skill level. No matter your current coaching skill level, I hope you find some value in dissecting the following dialogue:

Example MCC skill level dialogue:

Coach: What do you want to focus on in our coaching session today?

Client: I have a meeting tomorrow with my new boss and I haven’t heard good things about him from others who report to him. Tomorrow is the first time we will meet because I officially start working for him next week so have I want to prepare for that conversation.

Coach: I sense a lot of emotion present as you talk about your new boss. What are you feeling?

Client: I’m concerned he might treat me the way I’ve heard others being treated, especially micro-managing his direct reports. I don’t want my boss looking over my shoulder every step of the way when I’m being hired to run a division. I’m feeling some anxiety about approaching him about his management style.

Coach: I can understand why you’d be concerned and feel anxious. Is there anything else you want to say about this situation and how it’s affecting you?

Client: I want to be able to deal with my boss in a mature way.

Coach: What do you mean by mature?

Client: I want to be able to express my concerns without putting him on the defensive.

Coach: That’s a clear definition and sounds mature to me. Instead of concerned and anxious, how would you like to feel instead when you speak with him?

Client: Calm yet confident that I can have this conversation and express my concerns in a way that he can hear them.

Coach: Now that you’re clear on what you want, what would you say is your ideal outcome by the end of our session today? (PCC Marker 1 – establishing the outcome. For MCC skill level, the coach fully explores what the client wants from the session, as is being demonstrated in this dialogue)

Client: To think through what I really want to say to my new boss, and how to bring up my concerns in a mature way. I’d also like to roleplay with you.

Coach: That sounds great. What do you feel we’d need to address in order for you to get that outcome? (PCC Marker 4 – what needs to be addressed or resolved. Also great to ask at MCC skill level)

Client: To get in touch with the emotions I’ve put aside, because I realize that I have some fear about telling him my concerns in case he goes back to other direct reports in a negative way. So we’d need to address how I’m going to bring up my concern without throwing my peers under the bus.

Coach: That also demonstrates maturity, that you’d want to have that intention in your communication and are considering your peers. As you speak, I already notice a difference in the tone of your voice, and your energy feels more calm too. How would you describe how you’re feeling now?

Client: Thanks for pointing that out. I do feel different and more calm.

Coach: I’m wondering what values will you be honoring if you conduct yourself in this meeting the way you are starting to envision? (PCC Marker 3 – what’s important or meaningful about this outcome. Equally important for MCC skill level)

Client: Fairness, authenticity, and maturity. I’m amazed how many times I’ve said maturity already.

Coach: What’s amazing about that?

Client: I didn’t realize that maturity was important to me, and that’s been something I was working on a few years ago as a manager. So it’s good to hear me say that.

Coach: Is there anything else you want to say about your relationship with maturity?

Client: No, I don’t think so. Maybe something else will come up as we continue.

Coach: Okay. What would you like me to ask you at the end of this session to check on how the session has gone for you? (PCC Marker 2 – measure of success for the session. For MCC skill level, alot of exploration may have taken place before it’s appropriate to ask the client a ‘how will you know you’ve made progress against your outcome by the end of this session’ question)

Client: I think if you ask me how calm and confident I’m feeling, especially after we’ve role-played the conversation.

Coach: Great, I’ll do that. Is there anything else you think we need to address in this session? (PCC Marker 4 – what else do you want to address. A further inquiry such as this is MCC skill level)

Client: No, I think that is enough and already just talking through the situation and how I’m feeling has been very helpful.

Coach: Okay, good. So where would you like us to explore from here? (Coaching Presence – Partnering which means trusting and allowing the client to choose how to move forward)

Check during and again at end of the session

Halfway or so through the session, the coach at any skill level should do a check-in to ensure the conversation is serving their desired outcome. This is a gracious way of allowing the client to change directions of the coaching if they don’t feel it’s useful to continue down the current conversation path. Things can change as a session progresses, so check with the client. e.g. Just want to check in with you, are we on track for what you want from this session? 

At the end of the session, the coach checks specifically to find out what was achieved against the measures of success or outcomes. e.g. Can you recap, where did you start and where are you now at the end of our session? or “You said you wanted to feel more calm and confident. How are you feeling now?”

Address emotional content; ignore nothing

The MCC skill level coach needs to address emotional content and ignore nothing, two of the characteristics of MCC Skill Level Coaching (refer to Ten Characteristics of MCC skill level).

The coaching moves deeper in to the “Who” of the client (their beliefs, values, attitudes, emotions, behavior….) so that the coaching conversation is on purpose beyond the presenting issue; it’s growing the client capacity to handle such issues again in the future, with or without the help of a coach.

For a coaching conversation to be on-purpose for the client, we need to go beyond hearing their topic, to understanding what it is about their topic they want to accomplish. The topic is not the outcome as you can see from the sample dialogue. If you just start coaching around the topic, you have no idea what the client desired outcome is. This is typical of ACC and lower PCC skill level coaching. There is no further exploration and the coach starts coaching based on what they find important to ask about next.

With curious, open-ended questions, or by making observations, you probe deeper to understand what the client wants to accomplish, which may be more “Who” than “What.

An MCC skill level Coach explores everything the client says, and what might not be said, in order to create a richer, deeper (Who) agreement. The coaching agreement phase is not separate from coaching the client because all the while you are coaching your client to clarity.

To have a purposeful conversation that meets the client needs, we need to know what their needs are around their presenting topic. So take more time than you might usually do to explore all parts of the coaching session agreement, knowing you are serving your client, and you will be on purpose with your coaching.

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