Six ways to detect if you’re having a Coaching Conversation

About 70 percent of change failures are due to culture-related issues: employee resistance to change and unsupportive management behaviours. S&OP implementations requires significant change, not the least behavioural changeDespite this obvious importance of behaviours in change management, only 26 percent of practitioners indicate that behaviours are addressed enough in S&OP implementations.

S&OP behaviours S&OP pulse check

If we want to drive behavioural change, we can’t just advice or tell individuals how they should behave. This is what some managers and consultancies do during an S&OP implementation and that’s ok. However, some consultancies claim to be coaches when what they actually do is just telling what type of behaviours are preferred in an S&OP cycle. Some managers think they are coaching whilst what they do is managing performance. Let’s have a look at the coaching definition of the Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership, where I got some of my coaching training.

Coaching is a structured conversation with a measurable outcome that is collaborate and in the service of the coaching counterpart.

A trainer trains, a manager manages performance, a consultant gives expert advice. They all can have very valuable and useful conversations. They’re just not coaching conversations. A coach guides a coaching counterpart towards reaching their potential. Based on this definition and some of my coaching experience, what follows are six ways to detect if you’re having a coaching conversation:

Absolute confidentiality

The relation between you and the coach is confidential. That’s a non negotiable, even when the coach is hired by your own CEO. You decide what will be reported and gets out in the open about the conversations you have with your coach. 

Pull versus push

There are many ways to influence your personal potential. You might be managed, get training or counselling. You might be led to greater heights by an individual. Somebody might advise you what best to do (often done by consultancies). These are all push conversations and they might be valuable, but it is not a coaching conversation. Coaching is a pull conversation where you use your own ability and strengths to improve your potential.

Listens versus talks

A coach doesn’t advice or tell you what to do how to behave. In terms of behaviour, a coach listens to all the underlying reasons on why behaviours might be a challenge for you. Then a coach actually helps you to create awareness and understanding of your current behaviour and its impact. This might be with the help of a psychometric assessment. Then a coach holds you to account to develop more effective behaviours. A rule of thumb; if somebody talks more than 30% they’re not coaching you.

The focus is on you

A coaching conversation focuses 100% on you and on improving your potential. Talking about processes, systems or KPI’s is not coaching. These elements are just a small part of your situation and environment that influence your potential. There are many other parts of your personal circumstances to explore before finding a way forward best suited to you. Your thought, behaviours, skills, strengths, your family situation to name just a few.

It’s not about the content

Content can be important to build report with some coaching counterparts. However, a coach doesn’t give advice on content. A coach needs to be the master of a structured coaching process and be 100% engaged with you at the same time. A coach doesn’t need to be a master of the content. That’s for trainers and consultants.

Set goals

Without goals, you don’t know where you’re going to improve your potential . Coaching is a structured conversation with a measurable outcome. If your conversation is not structured around goals and measurable outcomes, you might be having a mentoring conversation or a great chat, but it is not coaching.

If these six elements are not obvious in the conversations you have, you probably are not having a coaching conversation. I wish you all the best in unlocking your potential.


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