Pragmatic advice for coaches, managers & leaders

How to reduce the time coaching takes

Q: What is the most common obstacle that leaders and managers raise when businesses start to implement a coaching programme?

A: Time….The lack of time Executives have (or say they have!)and the length of time coaching takes to bring about results.

I rarely buy the first the of these objections fully and there are several reasons why coaching is perceived as valuable but time consuming, some more valid than others. This post contains one you rarely read or hear about.

By changing your focus, based on the next tip I am going to give you, you will certainly make your coaching:

a. quicker – and yet not feel hurried

b. more focused – because you will know what the conversation should be centred on

c. produce better results – due to the focus you have gained from point B above

The key to reducing the length of coaching conversations then is …?

To Remember: The situation isn’t the goal.

I’m going to repeat that, it’s so important: The situation isn’t the goal. Keep this advice at the forefront of your mind and you will be able to cut through a lot of unnecessary discussion, stop going off-track and prevent frustration in both you and your client. You wouldn’t eat an oyster shell, would you?

Here’s an example to illustrate my point: Jane comes to you and says that she has a challenge with two members of her team who don’t take her seriously when she asks them to do something. She was formerly a member of that team and is now leading them.

If you spend your time exploring the situation you can gain some useful information and that’s fine but you can also get completely side-tracked into discussions about unnecessary details, conjecture and background filling. Curved balls, either purposely or unconsciously placed by Jane into the conversation, can de-rail things before you really get started, using valuable time that could be better spent on more productive parts of the coaching conversation. You will never understand the whole situation anyway; indeed not even Jane understands the whole situation !! Stay focused.

Establish what Jane wants to achieve, early in the conversation. Yes, you may have to revisit this as Jane becomes aware of “new” information as the discussion progresses but establish something to aim for early. Be flexible.

Words of Warning

1. Some clients will want to talk their situation through: it is the process by which they can arrange the details. That’s fine. Allow them to do so. You can “manage” this to a certain extent with phrases such as “can you give me a brief overview of the situation that you feel would be important for me to know?”

2. Be aware that this advice is not suggesting that you stay in the transactional coaching space for the sake of expediency, thus potentially missing lots of very valuable material. Quite the opposite. Getting past the situation allows you to help the client focus on their goal and ways of achieving their desired outcome. It is in this part of the conversation that you will be able to help a client explore issues that are “below the surface” if that is relevant and helpful.

So, without rushing, without being rude and dismissing your clients need to “get it out there” you can significantly reduce the time coaching conversations take by limiting the discussion about the situation to the salient points. You can then focus on adding value to Jane and all those like her !

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Post a comment and let’s discuss it.

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Glenn Wallis is an experienced Executive Coach and Coach Developer who will help you improve your own results and those of your organisation. When you are ready to  raise your performance to the next level, find out more here.