My Favorite Coaching Technique

It has been a few weeks since my last post but the good news is I have been spending this time putting the finishing touches on a book. I plan on getting it off to the copyeditor by the end of the week and will let you know a release date shortly thereafter.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a simple and low effort coaching technique I have been experimenting with. It’s my favorite for now but I’m sure something new will replace it.

As an enterprise agility coach, we are often bouncing from team to team or from problem to problem. So much so that we may be missing opportunities to strengthen our impact and make deeper connections with the people we are coaching. I found myself in this place of months ago so I decided to try something simple.

peanuts-dr-is-inAround lunchtime and as frequently as possible, I would plant myself at a table in the break room. I am currently working at an organization with small lunchrooms on every floor so I would find the closest one, sit down and just wait. I would catch up on emails or get a little work done but I make sure to not act overly busy or have a “don’t bother me” look.

Initially, when people from the teams I was working with walked in they would just say hello or we would share pleasantries. Before long, they would stop and chat a little more about “agile” things. And after a while longer they would start opening up about their experiences on the team and within the organization.

Over the past couple weeks I have noticed a few side effects to setting up informal “office hours” during the middle of the day:

A building of trust. Being in an informal setting seemed to lower defenses and there is an easier time to connect on a personal level. When this connection is developed, advocates emerge. These advocates help to remove resistance.

Hearing what people really think. Being in an informal setting seemed to allow people to open up a little more. They started getting more comfortable sharing the pain points they have been experiencing and were perhaps reticent to share in a group setting.

A chance to elaborate teachings. Many teams are learning how to be more agile on the fly (see the post “Working on a Beating Heart”). It may be tough to provide additional details on “the whys” while in working sessions. During some of these lunch breaks people would just ask questions and we would discuss how to make something work for them.

An opportunity to learn and improve. I started learning about ways to improve my coaching and how people were receiving my teaching style . I heard this before but I was recently reminded that I start talking faster when I get excited about something. I still need to work on this!

Something simple to try. I would also recommend this technique for any leaders out there. Please share your coaching tips and experiences in the comments below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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5 thoughts on “My Favorite Coaching Technique

  1. I’ve had similar experiences whorking as a coach to support organizational change. One organization that I worked with wanted to improve the interworking and communication between different departments. I arranged to have a desk available 1 day a week in every department that I worked with on a fixed day. Initially people from a department postponed their questions until the day that I was sitting in their department. Occasionally they called me when I wasn’t there, then I would ask them to come over to the other department. Or they would see me in another department when they were there for a meeting.

    Once people knew where I was sitting on which days (my schedule was written down on the whiteboards in all departments) they started to come over more often. I picked the most visible spots so people couldn’t miss me, they would see me when they came in. And they all liked coffee, so often we would take a short walk. If there were bigger issues we would schedule time to work on them, either personally or in teams.

    I actually had most people stopping by in the early morning, before they went into meetings. They discussed how things went, what was bothering them, what was on their mind. I could give them ideas and suggestions that they could use in their meeting. Sometimes they came by to chat during lunch or at the end of the day (I worked longer days to be visible and availble for them) to discuss how things had gone.

    So yes, I fully agree. Being there, being available, helping them on a daily base works!