CAREER-VIEW MIRROR - biographies of colleagues in the automotive and mobility industries.

Side Mirror: Coaching for Managers

September 18, 2023 Andy Follows Episode 134
CAREER-VIEW MIRROR - biographies of colleagues in the automotive and mobility industries.
Side Mirror: Coaching for Managers
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

When I was about 30 years old and working at Rover Group I went on my first coaching course. We spent three days learning about and practising coaching in a business context and specifically how to use the GROW model devised by John Whitmore, now Sir John Whitmore.

I explain the GROW model later in this episode and you can read more about it in Sir John’s book which is called Coaching for Performance.

In this episode I talk about coaching as a manager and guide you through a fascinating exercise using that model that had a significant impact on my appreciation of coaching and helped me to grasp its relevance and value for developing the people I lead parent and mentor. 

Thank you to our sponsors:

ASKE Consulting

Email: hello@askeconsulting.co.uk

Aquilae

Email: cvm@aquilae.co.uk

Episode Directory on Instagram @careerviewmirror  

If you enjoy listening to our guests career stories, please follow CAREER-VIEW MIRROR in your podcast app. 

Episode recorded on 13 September 2023.

Andy Follows:

I am sitting in lovely Siesta Key, Florida. I'm coming from Bangkok in Thailand, Prague in the Czech Republic, Cairo in Egypt, Auckland, new Zealand, London, England. Welcome to Career- View Mirror, the automotive podcast that goes behind the scenes with key players in the industry looking back over their careers so far, showing insights to help you with your own journey. I'm your host, Andy Follows. Hello listeners and welcome to this Side Mirror episode of Career- View Mirror. If you're a regular listener, thank you and welcome back. You'll be aware that most of our episodes feature interviews with people with a link to the automotive industry who kindly share their life and career journeys with us. We celebrate their careers, listen to their stories and learn from their experiences. From time to time we also publish these Side Mirror episodes, which introduce concepts and tools that feature in our signature Towards Fulfilling Performance development program. Please feel free to share any of our episodes with people you lead, parent or mentor. For more details about our Towards Fulfilling Performance Program, you can contact us at CVM@ aquilae. co. uk. You'll find that email address in the show notes to this episode.

Andy Follows:

When I was about 30 years old and working at Rover Group, I went on my first coaching course. We spent three days, learning about and practising coaching in a business context and specifically how to use the GROW model devised by John Whitmore, who's now Sir John Whitmore. In this episode, I'll talk about coaching as a manager and guide you through a fascinating exercise using that model that had a significant impact on my appreciation of coaching and helped me to grasp its relevance and value for developing the people I lead, parent and mentor. I'll explain the GROW model later in this episode and you can read more about it in Sir John's book, which is called Coaching for Performance. We'll post a link in the show notes to this episode.

Andy Follows:

Let me take a moment to tell you about our sponsors. This episode is brought to you by ASKE Consulting, who are experts in executive search, resourcing solutions and talent management across all sectors of the automotive industry in the UK and Europe. I've known them for almost 20 years and I can think of no more fitting sponsor for Career-View Mirror. They're the business we go to at Aquilae when we're looking for talent for our clients and for projects that we're working on. ASKE was founded by Andrew McMillan, whose own automotive career includes board-level positions with car brands and leasing companies. All ASKE consultants have extensive client-side experience, which means they bring valuable insight and perspective for both their employer and candidate customers. My earliest experience of working with Andrew was back in 2004, when he helped me hire regional managers for my leasing sales team at Alphabet. More recently, when Aquilae was helping a US client to establish a car subscription business, ASKE Consulting was alongside us, helping us to develop our people strategy and to identify and bring on board suitable talent.

Andy Follows:

Clients we've referred to ASKE have had an equally positive experience. Andrew and the team at ASKE are genuinely interested in the long-term outcomes for you and the people they place with you. They even offer the reassurance of a two-year performance guarantee, which means they have skin in the game when working with you. If you're keen to secure the most talented and high-potential people to accelerate your business and gain competitive advantage, do get in touch with them and let them know I sell them. You can email Andrew and the team at hello@ askeconsulting. co. uk or check out their website for more details and more client feedback. At www. askeconsulting. co. uk. ASKE is spelled A-S-K-E. You'll find these contact details in the show notes for this episode.

Andy Follows:

Okay, let's get back to our episode. It was a fascinating and highly enjoyable program and it's had a lifelong impact on me. Through various exercises, we learned how asking appropriate coaching questions raises the awareness of the person we're coaching let's call them the coachee and helps them to identify and take ownership of their next steps and actions. In one exercise, we were chipping golf balls into a bucket. Our coaching partner would help us to focus on how each shot felt to us and ask us to score it out of 10. This simple act of giving our attempt a score heightened our focus and raised our awareness of what we were doing. Often that alone, with no further coaching input, led to improvements. In fact, often the person playing the part of coach had no golf experience and so couldn't have told their coachee what to try doing differently anyway. This helped to drive home the message that subject matter expertise related to the coachee's topic or issue isn't necessary for effective coaching and can even get in the way.

Andy Follows:

In the exercise that had the biggest impact for me, the facilitator explained that he was going to provide each of us with coaching support on a specific topic or issue of our choosing, and he was going to carry out this one-to-one coaching session with all 16 of us simultaneously. He asked us to turn to a clean page in our notebooks and write down the issue that we'd like to have some confidential coaching on. Over the next 15 to 20 minutes, he proceeded to ask us a sequence of questions aligned with the GROW model. This seems like a good time to explain the acronym GROW. You can read the official version in coaching for performance by Sir John Whitmore. In the meantime, I'll share how I've internalized it, which has worked for me.

Andy Follows:

The G of GROW stands for goal. You'll have heard me say begin with the end in mind, and that's exactly what we're doing here. You'll be surprised how often that's not where we start. I'll start by asking you some questions to help you clarify your goal or desired outcome or the end in mind related to the issue you're thinking about. The R stands for reality. Here I'll ask you some questions about what's happening now to help you understand the gap between what you want and what you're currently experiencing. The O stands for options, where I'll encourage you to explore what you could do to move forward with this topic or issue. Be prepared for me to push you a little here, to go beyond your first thoughts. The W stands for will. This is where I'll be asking you to decide on which option you're going to choose and consider how motivated you are to take the necessary action.

Andy Follows:

In our training exercise, we sat in silence, writing down our answers as quickly as we could before he moved on to the next question. By the time he'd finished, each one of us had a much clearer idea of what steps we needed to take towards resolving our issue. We each had an action plan to help us move forward and we had a measure of how committed we were to taking action. All this was accomplished without him having the slightest idea what topic we brought to the table, let alone him needing to have any relevant expertise in the area of our issue. From this moment, I realized the power of coaching as a skill to help others. I was also unburdened of the need to be an expert in other people's issues in order to be able to help them. In fact, more than ever, I understood how important it was to keep my own stuff out of the way when coaching others.

Andy Follows:

Later, in this Side Mirror, I'll share that exercise with you. You can pick a topic. I'll ask similar questions to the ones our coach asked, and you can stop the recording and answer them and then move on to the next one. I'm always keen to hear your feedback on these episodes. With this one, I'm particularly excited because when I first experienced this exercise, I had such an epiphany. Just imagine if I can coach you on something you're wrestling with without me even knowing what your challenge is, and if, by doing so, I help you experience a similar epiphany about the coaching process and the power of effective questions. Please give it a try and let me know how it goes for you.

Andy Follows:

For me, it meant that from then on, I went into any one to one with a team member, knowing that my role was not necessarily to teach them solutions, but to help coach the next steps out of them and leave them owning the action plan and feeling committed to delivering it. I say not necessarily teach them solutions. When should we teach, when should we coach and when should we mentor? The answer is it depends. Like most things in life, it's not binary, it's more complex and nuanced than that, but as that's not very helpful, let's consider starting with some rough definitions and guidelines.

Andy Follows:

For me, a mentor is someone further along any path that we're on than we are, or any path that we're interested in taking than we are, who's willing and able to share what they've learned already. They might share their experiences and how they dealt with them, shortcuts or pitfalls which they wish they'd known about earlier, and or resources, including network contacts who can help us on our journey. We benefit from them, adding their experience and capabilities to ours. We can have multiple mentors with different experience, and age is not as important as relevant experience. When I talk about coaching in a business context, I'm specifically talking about applying a process and perhaps using some tools and models in a conversation with a coachee to raise their awareness of the outcome they want in a given situation, explore how that compares to what's happening now and help them identify and take ownership of their next steps. This doesn't require me to teach them skills or share my experience. I don't have to be a subject matter expert, as we'll see from my coaching exercise shortly. I don't even need to know what their issue is. I do need to be deliberate and intentional about applying my own coaching skills in our conversation and I need to trust the process.

Andy Follows:

I returned to formal coach training in 2016. By this time, I was getting closer to starting my own business and I wanted to offer professional coaching as a service. Thanks to my earlier epiphany on the Rover program. I'd spent pretty much my whole career applying a coaching style as a manager and leader, but if I was going to offer my services professionally, I wanted to validate my approach in advance. I wanted to be introduced to a broad range of coaching concepts, tools and methods so I had more of an overview of what's out there, and I wanted the opportunity to practice coaching in a safe environment and to receive feedback from my peers and from experienced coaches. I enrolled in a program that led to becoming accredited as a certified coach with the International Coaching Federation. It provided everything I've been looking for, with the addition of introducing me to a wonderful cohort of like-minded people.

Andy Follows:

There was a very strong emphasis on coaching being a process and the importance of us not letting our own stuff get in the way. That extended to very clear guidelines that coaching is not teaching, advising or mentoring. I'm telling you this now because, if we're to embrace the process of coaching, we most likely have to unlearn some of our current behaviours. Next time you observe someone sharing an issue or a problem with someone else, notice how quickly that person either shares an anecdote or experience from their own autobiography or life story, or offers a piece of advice or a potential solution. I believe that the only way our coach tutors had a chance to get new coaches to overcome the urge to share experiences and advice and to get us to lean into the process, methodology and skills of coaching itself was to adopt a zero tolerance to us sharing experience and giving advice. I hope that once I've guided you through a sequence of coaching questions and you've identified your desired outcome and devised and taken ownership of your action plan, without me having any knowledge of your issue, you will, like me, become invested in the process of coaching without telling or advising. At this point, you may find yourself thinking, yes, but what if? Or I don't agree with that, or that's not how I coach. Please hold those thoughts for now and I'll address them at the end of this episode.

Andy Follows:

Okay, let's start the exercise. Have you thought of a topic, challenge or issue that you'd like some coaching on? It can be personal or professional. Nobody other than you needs to know what it is. When I run this exercise live with a team I allow time after each question for people to note down their answers. This will work best if you can write down your answers to each question, so I'll assume you're not going to do it while driving or doing some other activity where you might typically listen to a podcast. With that in mind, I'll just leave a short gap between questions so that you can stop the recording and restart it as soon as you've finished answering that question. The questions will also be in the transcript for this episode, so if you'd prefer to work from that, you can.

Andy Follows:

Okay, let's get started. Write down the topic that you'd like coaching on. Let's start with some questions to help you clarify your goal. What's the end in mind or desired outcome? Describe what you see when you've achieved or solved it. To what extent is it in your power to create this outcome? What would be a stepping stone on the way to making it happen? When do you want to realise this outcome? Are you excited by the thought of it? Do you believe you can make it happen? When you're ready,

Andy Follows:

let's move on to clarify your current reality. Describe the current situation. What, where, when, who, how much, how often? Who's involved, both directly and indirectly? What's happening to you when this isn't as you want it? What impact does that have? What happens to the others directly involved? What's the effect on others? What steps have you taken so far? What outcome came from you doing that? What do you think is missing in this situation? What do you have that you're not using? What's getting in your way or slowing you down? What's really going on here? When you're happy, you've got what you're going to get from those questions, let's look at some options. What could you do? What else could you do? If money and time were no object, what would you do? At this point, if you're coaching someone and you're thinking that you know something very helpful that they simply don't know for themselves,

Andy Follows:

you can ask permission to share it by saying would you like another suggestion? Okay, going back to the questions and looking at your options, what are the benefits and costs of each? Now I'm going to ask you to choose a path forward and I'm going to help you explore it in more detail, again simply by getting you to reflect on some questions. Which is your favourite option? How closely does this fit with your desired outcome? What's the sequence of steps you'll take? How will you measure success? When are you going to start and finish each step? What might happen to get in your way? How might you get in your own way? What will you do to mitigate those risks?

Andy Follows:

Who needs to know your plan? What help do you need and from whom? How and when will you get that support? And when you're using this approach yourself coaching someone, you might at this point ask how can I help you? And if I can help you, do let me know. Finally, it's worth checking your level of commitment towards this plan. How committed are you to doing this on a scale of 1 to 10? What stops this from being a 10? What could you do or change to increase your commitment to a 10? And at the end of your session with your coachee, you can ask is there anything else you want to talk about now?

Andy Follows:

I hope that you found this coaching exercise helpful. Maybe I've been able to help you work out the way forward. I'd love to hear from you if I have. I don't need to know the details. Knowing that the process has worked will be enough. Perhaps, more importantly, it'll be great if this process has helped to reinforce coaching as something distinctly separate from mentoring or teaching. Perhaps it's reminded you that if you follow the process and don't let your own stuff get in the way, you don't need to be an expert in a topical situation to help someone work out the best next steps for them to take.

Andy Follows:

Earlier I said you might notice yourself having some objections to what I was saying and I asked you to hold on to those thoughts until later. I really wanted you to have experienced the exercise so that you can see for yourself how much the process and the questions can help without us needing to share our own experiences and suggestions. I'm going to assume that you've done the exercise for yourself and realised how much the questions and the process got you thinking and helped you to work out a way forward. This is some of the power of coaching. To benefit from it for ourselves and the people we lead parent and mentor we need to be intentional and disciplined in respecting the process. It helps us to do that if we start with a zero-tolerance approach to sharing our own experience and suggestions. It's just easier to control not doing something at all rather than trying to only do it a little bit.

Andy Follows:

On another occasion I undertook some further coach training with Catherine Sandler. Catherine is the author of Executive Coaching - A Psychodynamic Approach. On this topic of not giving advice, she was aware that it was strongly taught to new coaches. She said to me that if she knows something that she knows will be helpful for a coachee and that they're not going to work out for themselves, then she will share that with them and would consider it wrong not to do so. I think it's important to bear in mind that Catherine's been a professional executive coach for decades and is a respected expert in her field.

Andy Follows:

Most of us, when looking to take a coaching approach in managing our people, will benefit first by learning to coach without advising, sharing our autobiographies or letting our own stuff get in the way. There's value in sharing our experiences and giving advice when mentoring others, and there's value in coaching when we recognise it as a process for raising awareness and ownership in the coachee. If you're coaching someone and you notice an opportunity to provide some guidance, that's more appropriate to a mentoring conversation, make a mental note and stay focused on coaching. If later you still consider it appropriate to share those thoughts, you can be. If you're mentoring someone and you notice an opportunity to raise their awareness and ownership around a topic or issue, you might consciously shift a mental gear and enter into a coaching exchange with them, being mindful that your focus is now on the process of coaching and not sharing your knowledge and experience.

Andy Follows:

I've downloaded a lot on you in this Side Mirror and yet I'm conscious it's still such a high level introduction to the topic. If you've already experienced coaching and you appreciate its power, then I'm sure you'll know some if not all of this already and you'll be filling in the gaps from further reading, practice and maybe even undertaking coach training yourself. If this Side Mirror and our little exercise have been your first experience of how one coaching tool, the Grow model and some well-crafted and sequenced questions, can unlock a path forward and help you get unstuck without me, as the coach, needing to understand or even know the details of your issue, I'll be absolutely thrilled and would love to hear from you. And if you're looking for a professional coach for yourself or a member of your team and would like to work with me, then please do get in touch. You've been listening to Career-View Mirror with me Andy Follows. I hope that you've enjoyed this episode and found it helpful. If you enjoy listening to our episodes, please could you do me a huge favour and share them with someone you lead parent or mentor or a friend you think will also appreciate them. Thank you to our sponsors for this episode ASKE Consulting and Aquilae and thank you to the Career-View Mirror team, without whom we would not be able to share our guests' life and career stories, and, above all, thank you to you for listening.

Andy Follows:

No matter how hard you try, no matter how hard working you are, you're never going to be able to do it on your own. It's just not possible. You know, at the end of the day, you're steering your own destiny. So if it's not happening for you, you're not seeing what you want out there then go out there and connect. Don't rely on others. You have to do it yourself. You have to take control. If you've got an idea, if you've got a thought about something that might be successful, if you've got a passion to do something yourself but you just haven't quite got there, do it. Take a risk, take a chance, stick your neck out. What's the worst that can happen? You fall down. Okay, you pick yourself up and you try again.

Introduction to Coaching in Business
Coaching Exercise for Personal Development