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Leadership, OD, Staff Development

Is Group Coaching Possible?

Coaching is about believing in someone and then taking action to help that person to be his or her very best.

Some months ago, the managing director of an MNC approached me to develop a team of four operations managers with some people and management skills. Three of them were promoted recently but have not had any formal leadership training. This is not unusual as we see this happen over and over again. He also shared that he would like me to conduct a one-on-one coaching for one of his managers. He wanted me to develop her leadership skills and especially her openness to change. However, the MD was afraid that this manager, let’s call her JJ, was not receptive to such intervention. We discussed and developed the plan to start with group coaching for his team of managers. This way, the one-on-one coaching for JJ could be “sold” as a logical next step after the group coaching experience.

Competency, Enablers, Staff Development

Manager as Coach

Coaching is a powerful style of leadership for developing people and enhancing business performance. Especially, with the rapid changes at workplaces, keeping employees’ committed and motivated during tough economic times seems like a tall task, especially after downsizing or programme cutbacks. Hence, it is evident that the very survival and success of any organisation depends on the human capital: people are highly knowledgeable, versatile, innovative and mobile. And, their skills and talents are the currency of competitiveness, and companies who hope to retain their services need to recognise that these individuals expect greater personal choice, autonomy and an active voice in the management of their workplace. A good coach knows that.

Leadership, OD, Staff Development

Recognising The Coach-able Moment

In a coaching or mentoring relationship, finding the right moment for performing the coaching is critical. Often, coaching attempts go wrong because the moment is just not right. But, how do you know whether you are at a coachable-moment? Just ask yourself whether you have the right essentials for coaching someone: A sincere intention, a good relationship and suitable words.

What is your Intention for Coaching Someone?

Coaching Essentials: The Coach-able Moment

The Coach-able Moment

Having the right intention for coaching is paramount for success. Showing off your own capability and telling your staff that he is not there yet is the worst setting for coaching. A hidden agenda will surface sooner or later and will break any trust for a long time. Similarly, giving feedback to your staff immediately after a sub-optimal performance may not be in the best interest of the both of you. If you need to let off steam, because your staff has just tarnished your polished image in-front of others, stop here. It is a safe assumption that he did not do it intentionally and will perform much better next time – after your constructive feedback given at a later stage, when you are more relaxed and free from potentially hurting emotions.

After Jerry was done with his presentation about DiSC to one of our important clients, I felt the urge to tell him that I did not like his arrogant style of delivery, talking down to the audience. Although, it was clear to everyone that he knew his stuff, he could have brought it across in a nicer way. After all, Jerry was younger than most of the clients in the room and he did not know anything about DiSC until a year ago, when I started to teach and coach him. I was about to take him aside and tell him one or two things about his station in life … but I was stopped by my partner, who knew exactly what was about to happen. Today, I can easily admit that I was in no mood to give any constructive feedback, let alone good coaching.

After all, coaching is the process of letting someone know that you care about him. (Practical Coach)

What is your Relationship with your Coachee?

Your relationship with your coachee plays an essential role for selecting the right moment, the coach-able moment, and especially the right words for coaching. Whereas it is nearly impossible to perform any coaching for someone whom you meet the first time, all other types of association allow effective coaching. Be it a good friend whom you want to help or be it your staff or your mentee you want to support and see the person grow professionally.

Trust is the basis of the relationship. Building a trusting relationship requires sufficient time and dedicated effort. Sometimes we’re tempted to hurry the process or neglect this stage altogether. When we do, we deny ourselves out of the valuable coaching experience and decrease the likelihood of success.

I did not spend enough time to build relationship with Jerry since he joined, because he has been on telecommuting and we only meet when we are at client’s site. If I had set aside time to build rapport with Jerry, my feedback to him about his delivery of this DISC session would have been much easier. And, he would trust what I say to him.

Remember, coaching is about caring for someone and developing them. When you have a supportive relationship, you can speak your mind freely. You already know that the other person will see the positive intention in your words, independently of whether they agree or not.

Which Words Should be Used to Give Feedback?

“Eh how come your hair is so messy? You are so busy till you never have no time to cut your hair, ah?” is a personal message you only pass to a very good friend who trusts you a lot.

Our language is full of words that have a disempowering effect. As a basic rule, turning our words and phrases into a positive notion will help to gain acceptance for feedback without hurting the coachee.

“Why are you always late for meetings. You have to be on time” is a strong message in a disempowering language spoken with the typical Singapore word “always”.

Firstly, avoid “always” and “never” when you give feedback. Hardly anyone is that bad.

Secondly, turn retrospective blame “Why are you always late for meetings?” into prospective good behaviour with “What can you do to contribute to our meetings in future?” Discovery questioning is a powerful, forward-looking technique that avoids one party losing face and emphasises solutioning rather than blaming.

Thirdly, don’t generalise feedback. Link it to a certain situation so that all ambiguity and with it the dispute about it is limited. State Situation – Behaviour – Impact (SBI) like in

“Yesterday for our meeting with our clients, you arrived 15 minutes after the stated start time. I am concerned, this has presented an unprofessional image to our clients.”


Coaching is about believing in someone and then taking action to help that person be his or her very best. Do try to use the above tips to create the coachable moment before you coach.

Read also: The Best Coach I Ever Had

Enablers, Leadership, OD, Staff Development

The Best Coach I Ever Had

At some point in our life, some of us may have experienced a person who helped us to see our own strengths, who shaped our thinking and spurred us to move on. Often, this person does not even know how much impact he had on us. We probably never told him.

Many years ago, when I was new to the professional life with only my study and some months of exposure to the business world at AT&T under my belt, I met Doug. Then, being young in my training experience, my challenge was to deliver some modules of the newly developed culture building programme to the entire organisation over several runs of workshops. Doug was our master trainer who was supposed to help us getting started.

I clearly remember the first time I stood in-front of 50 participants delivering my topic. Before I took the stage, Doug was next to me, smiled at me and said “Go! You can make a difference. Just be yourself!” During my presentation, I could see him sitting at the back of the room, raising his two thumbs up to tell me that I was doing well. This little gesture was so different to what I encountered from many other wannabe coaches. I got the impression he was focussing 100% on supporting me – although he had many other trainees.

Doug cultivated the habit of a daily “check-in” dialogue. Every morning, he asked me to share what I wanted to do for the participants that will benefit them. He did not give me the answers. Instead, he guided by asking. By doing so, he got me thinking and exploring myself. It was the same after the training, when Doug usually asked three questions at the “check-out” dialogue: What did I do well today? What did I learn today? What will I do differently tomorrow?

Once at the check-in dialogue, I shared that I would like to spend time in getting to know the participants better, to be able to support them. And, I suggested that trainers should immerse with the participants. Doug caught the word “immerse” and from then on, he would always use the word to remind the trainers – a little acknowledgement that went a long way to encourage me. Subsequently, I had no fear to bring up new ideas. Even more, I learned how important it can be to listen well. And, I learned that little gestures and timely credits can really motivate you and shape your behaviour – just as Doug did.

I still treasure two items I received from Doug. The first one is a bookmark he presented to me one day – after a job well done, as he said. He wrote “You have made a difference. Thank you!” The second gift is a book titled “Golden Nuggets” in which he wrote for me “You are a special spirit. Your love for people inspires me very much. Always remember how wonderful you truly are.” I was not really aware that I had the ability to inspire others. Doug spotted this skill in me and encouraged me to make use of it. With this awareness, I learned to focus on developing and enabling colleagues and team members.

The Best Coach - 7 Habits of an Effective Coach

COE’s 7 Habits of an Effective Coach


So, what is it that made my coach so special to me, my best coach? He cared about me. He taught me by observing, by listening patiently and giving immediate feedback – always in a constructive and positive way. Doug constantly reinforced my strengths instead of working on my weaknesses. Using discovery questions, he got me seeking for solutions. He developed the sense of being there when I needed him most. Doug took pride in making me winning.

These ingredients made him the best coach I ever had.

Enablers, Staff Development

INSPIRE – Seven Essential Steps to Building A Coaching Culture

I absolutely believe that people, unless coached,
never reach their maximum potential. Bob Nardelli

Coaching is “Expanding a person’s capacity to take quicker, more effective actions.” Robert Hargrove. In a coaching culture people continually discover how they create their own reality and how they can change it. Everyone understands the goals of the organisation and the personal contributions necessary to achieve them. Organisational resources are maximised.

Enablers, HR Strategy, Staff Development

Leaders in The Driver’s Seat

In times like this, every penny counts. So, how do we ensure we get the most out of our learning & development dollars spent? Many studies prove what practitioners have known for long: formal training programmes do not deliver the promised ROI – especially when the so-called ‘soft skills’ are concerned. We must find a way to craft a learning experience for our leaders that will really make a change.
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