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Coaching for Personal Change

Coaching works great for change. Coaching is asking the right questions. It is not about providing answers. Every time you provide an answer to a person or team you take away an opportunity for them to self-organize, grow and learn. You take away an opportunity for them to take ownership of the change and get engaged. In the role of the coach your task is to create awareness and responsibility. Your goal is to help them discover what needs to change, how to change it and to help them actually implement the change.

Illusion Of Control

“The illusion of control is the tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control events, for instance to feel that they control outcomes that they demonstrably have no influence over.”

An interesting research on this topic, by Langer, Ellen J. published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 32(2), Aug 1975, involves a lottery. People would either receive lottery tickets at random or were allowed to choose their own. Although the lottery is random, when people were asked to sell or trade their tickets, the people who choose their own numbers were less likely to trade their tickets then the people who received a ticket.

The interesting part of this research is that it shows that by having people choose their own lottery number the ticket became something of their own. The experiment showed that Illusion of Control encourages people to take responsibility for the actions they do. And that is exactly what you want people to do during the change. You want people to be the owners of the changes. And you need coaching to achieve it. People change at a much deeper level when people discover themselves what is best to do and decide themselves to take the appropriate actions to change.

Coaching on competences

In most of the companies I work with the development of hard skills is quite good. Often the necessary soft skills and behaviors required to work effectively and joyfully in teams are missing. In the Lean Agile adoption journey the people need to be supported in developing these soft skills. The coaching efforts should therefore focus on helping people develop specific competences. Some interesting competences in an Agile transformation are relational sensitivity, cooperation & teamwork, and results & performance accountability.

Relational sensitivity
Relational sensitivity competence requires the following behavior:

  • Notices non-verbal signs and asks about them;
  • Reacts constructively to verbal signs that are emotionally loaded;
  • Shows empathy and understanding of others’ perspectives on issues;
  • Is aware of irritations and reacts constructively;
  • Gives feedback and demonstrates understanding of information and communication;
  • Demonstrates understanding and acknowledgment of others’ interests.

Cooperation & Teamwork
Cooperation & teamwork competence requires the following behavior:

  • Provides feedback on team results;
  • Values team results;
  • Makes sure relevant information is shared among team members;
  • Starts and actively supports improvement initiatives of teamwork.

Results & performance accountability
Result & performance accountability competence requires the following behavior:

  • Helps team members where needed, so the team succeeds;
  • Assesses team members and oneself on keeping commitments and the manner in which the commitments are met;
  • Takes accountability for one’s own work and the overall work of the team.

In order to stimulate the coaching sessions you need some starting material. In life coaching, the coachee comes to the coach asking for help. Based on the questions of the coachee, the life coach starts to work. Sometimes the people involved in the change come to me with questions but most people do not. Those who are opposed to the change are especially unlikely to do so. You therefore need to create the need for coaching sessions. To have a basis for your coaching sessions, 360 feedback is used.

Competence coaching with 360 feedback

In 360 feedback people receive feedback from the people they work with, such as team members, customers and leaders. The feedback is on the person’s behaviors.  A person receives feedback on the desired competences of relational sensitivity, cooperation & teamwork, and results & performance accountability. Based on the results of the 360 feedback you can start your coaching sessions. As a coach you discuss the results of the 360 feedback with the person and investigate what the person wants to work on. You then coach him during his change. The goal of the coaching sessions is to help the people to change their behavior so that they create and take ownership of the needed changes.

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Categories: Agile adoption, Lean, Scrum
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