The importance of listening in coaching – and 5 tips to improve it

Are you good at listening? Now, be honest…

Let me be up front. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know I believe listening is one of the 5 basic coaching skills coaches need to master if they want to offer the high level of service their coachees deserve. In fact, I believe it’s the MOST important skill. Why? Because everything that happens in coaching depends on it.

listening head silhouettesThe importance of listening

Think about it. Without listening, it’s well-nigh impossible to explore goals and current reality with coachees, because without attentive listening a coach is unable to base an intervention on actual coachee needs as opposed to the coach’s own predetermined ‘programme’. Relevant questions can’t arise in the moment if there hasn’t been an adequately deep, attentive process of listening from which those questions flow. And no-one can contract in coaching without listening, because listening is at the core of the process of discussion and negotiation upon which contracting depends.

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5 bite-sized insights into Team Coaching

What is Team Coaching? That’s a bigger question than you might think. Team Coaching is becoming increasingly important in this complex, fast-changing world of ours. Whatever kind of coaching we may be involved in, we need to understand what Team Coaching is, as well as what makes it different to what we already do.

Recently I’ve benefited from participating in CPD sessions on the topic, led by three seasoned successful Team Coaches. Whilst this post won’t be the last word on all things Team Coaching, what it will do is bring together five bite-sized insights from what I’ve learnt. Thanks Sandra Booth, Sheila Udall and Prof Peter Hawkins (as well as all the other participants) for sharing your wisdom.

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Structuring coaching sessions with GROW – Part 2: Reality, Options & the Will to move forward

Last time we checked out what the GROW Model is. We also discussed the importance of Goal Setting in helping both coach and coachee look beyond the current situation to establish a clear vision for the coaching intervention, as well as a focus for taking discussions forward.

Following on from that, this time we’ll be looking at the other three components of the GROW Model:GROW

  • checking out the Reality of the coachee’s current context and situation
  • generation of Options
  • ensuring the coachee has the Will to move forward with specific actions

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Structuring coaching sessions with GROW – Part 1: Introduction to the GROW Model & Goal Setting

Last time we looked at the reasons to contract in coaching – one of the five basic skills it’s necessary for any coach to master. This time I’m turning to another skill on that wishlist. The GROW Model – that easy-to-remember, simple, and perennially popular mechanism for structuring coaching sessions.

GROWDon’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that there are no other ways of structuring sessions. There are. Many. Some are simple whilst others are much more complicated. However, I’m highlighting the GROW Model here because of its almost universal acceptance and serviceability. It’s stood the test of time, been pulled around and discussed widely, and become a coaching staple used because of its effectiveness by a whole variety of coaches, including the most experienced.

Why is it important to have some kind of recognisable approach to structuring coaching sessions?

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Why contract in coaching?

In a previous post I discussed the five basic skills any coach needs to master if he or she wants to be effective. I said then I’d be discussing each of these in further posts, so here I’ll be looking into the first skill on that list by checking out the rationale for and characteristics of effective contracting.

man signing contractEffective contracting is crucial to the success of coaching relationships. Why? Well, the origins of any problems that occur as the relationships develop can usually be traced back to the contracting stage.

The term ‘contracting’ can refer to two things:

  1. the ongoing process whereby the coach helps the coachee define, refine and redefine clear outcomes for the coaching sessions;
  2. the negotiations and resulting document setting out the parameters of the relationship between coach, coachee and any other stakeholders with an interest in the coaching intervention.

I’ll be taking a look at both of these under the following headings:

  • Contracting in the coaching process
  • Contracting the coaching relationship

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6 good reasons to use coaching

I’ve said a lot elsewhere on this blog about coaching. But the first question really ought to be: “Why use it?”

Head and arrowsAs coaches, we need to have thought this through. Our own enthusiasm for our profession isn’t really enough. If we haven’t thought it through, and we haven’t identified key benefits to individual and organisational performance associated with coaching interventions, we’re very unlikely to be able to convince anyone else to invest time, effort and money into what even now might easily be dismissed as ‘just another fad’.

So let’s take a look. As a coach active within a large organisation, this time I’ll be discussing  6  reasons why putting time, effort and money into coaching and establishing a coaching culture would be more than a good idea.

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Effective listening and ‘The 3 P’s of Coaching Agility’

I recently took part in a webinar called High Velocity Listening: Coaching Agility for the C-Suite.* Why? Well, anything that might deepen my insight into the art of listening grabs me, so you won’t be surprised I waited all agog to hear what  Andreas Bernhardt and Jeff Hull  had to say for themselves. I came away with lots to think about. And I’d like to share some of those thoughts with you…

A blog post can’t do full justice to everything that was covered, but here’s an introduction to Andreas and Jeff’s concept of  ‘The 3 P’s of Coaching Agility’, which are:

  • listening presence
  • listening perspectives
  • listening personas

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A coaching summer…

Even coaches need to take it easy sometimes….

flower garden and treesWhy do I say this? Because here in the UK we’ve had the most wonderfully warm and sunny weekend, full of blue skies with the occasional fluffy white cloud, the heat-drenched scent of roses, and not a little ice-cream (at least as far as I’m concerned)! Those of you who haven’t had the dubious pleasure of a wet British summer will probably not understand the full significance of being able to enjoy what for us is a perfect June weekend – but I hope you’ll be able to join me in feeling relaxed and happy to be alive…

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Insight into coachee context in action – the case of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)

Remember we looked at benefits and potential drawbacks to coaches having insight into coachee context? Well, now we’re going to go one step further by checking out an actual coachee context to gain some practical understanding of how ‘background issues’ might influence the experience of coachees working within it…

I’m an internal coach in one of the largest Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the UK.university mortar board hat So let’s briefly explore some wider ‘background issues’ currently affecting UK universities to gain deeper insight into a ‘context’. We’ll then be able to suggest ways these issues might affect employee experience in the sector, as well as understand how insight into them might help coaches in their professional work.

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Does insight into coachee context matter? Part 2 – drawbacks

Last time in Part 1 we looked at benefits for coaches of having insight into coachee context, along with  5  questions that could help us build up a wider picture of a coachee’s situation. This time we’ll be looking into potential drawbacks to having wider insight.

psychedelic silhouette The  5  questions we asked last time were aimed at information gathering about the organisation. This time we’re looking at the coach him- or herself. Could there be potential shortcomings or blind spots in a coach’s approach to what he or she knows about a coachee’s context? What could be the results? And most importantly, how can we as coaches strategise to avoid these deficiencies, minimising the drawbacks to having wider insight into coachee context whilst maximising the benefits?

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