Coach Me? 

Two words with a multitude of meanings, delivered across a wide range of scenarios in a coaches’ professional and even private life; and if you really consider it when are you unconsciously reaching into your coaching tool bag and assisting others to be the best that they possible can be in their lives?

However, at this time I will concentrate on the “Coach Me” scenario where I was the resident coach for a major public utility in the south of England where I had been retained for a year to assist the company in its restructuring program.

My coaching itinerary was facilitated by the company Outlook diary and used by myself, repeating clients, HR and senior managers booking staff for agreed sessions. Most clients were contracted to have 10 sessions, weekly, fortnightly or monthly and usually with the exception of the induction or orientation session 45 minutes in duration with 15 minutes for my write ups and reflection.

It was a busy and fun schedule, yet sometimes, the schedule had to be changed!

“Coach me now” said the rather bucolic individual who walked into my office without knocking, sat down, and glared at me.

Interesting start, time to build rapport.

Coach: Welcome, my name is John and how do you know you need coaching?

Client: I don’t, my manager sent me to see you.

Coach: Thank you, when did your manager indicate that you could benefit from coaching?

Client: At my restructuring appraisal just now.

Coach: Mmmmm, how long was the restructuring appraisal?

Client: 30 minutes, though it seemed a lot longer.

Coach: Yep, they always seem to.

Client: Nods and goes silent.

Coach: Did you come straight up to my office?

Client: Yes (Monosyllabic and calming down)

Coach: Do you fancy a drink and a comfort break?

Client: A coffee, milk lots of sugar.

Coach: Great, I need a break as well, lets go down to the coffee machine and I’ll treat you on this occasion.

Leave the office and walk to the coffee machine about 200 metres away.

Coach: As I mentioned my name is John, and yours?

Client: Michael.

Coach: How long have you worked here?

Client 17 years.

Coach: That’s a long time, you must be doing something right Michael.

Client: You would think so wouldn’t you?

Coach: Yes, I would and what do you do?

Reach coffee machine.

Coach: My treat. Coffee with milk and extra sugar.

Client: No thanks, just a white coffee.

Coach What, no sweet tooth?

Client: (Takes coffee and smiles) No I have to watch my weight.

Coach: (Smiles) Me too, constant diet, too much time spent coaching.

Coach: Decaf with milk for me.

Client: That is unusual, and I am a petrochemical engineer.

Coach takes coffee and both head back to office:

Coach: Oh great, I was up at Dyce (Scotland) 3 years ago coaching with a major oil company for 6 months and as I was working across the shifts I drank more coffee than was apparently good for me; so I went cold turkey and haven’t touched caffeine in any drink since then.

Client: That is interesting, how do you feel? 

Coach: Great, my energy is constant and I don’t have to boost it any more.

Arrive back at the office, now a familiar place and both sit down.

Coach: Petrochemical Engineer, graduate entry or technical apprentice?

Client: (Surprised) Technical Apprentice and after 10 years operational experience topped it off with a company sponsored MEng in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at Manchester.

Coach: Well done. Hard work well rewarded.

Client Grins.

Coach: You now know something about me, how can I now help you?

Client: Not so much, what do you do exactly?

Coach: I am an expert in not knowing?

Client: What?

Coach: I know nothing about you so I ask questions designed to tell me more about you in such a way that that you understand far more about yourself and your hidden potential. This will enable you to generate more options and outcomes (goals) for yourself, both now and in the future, and just to make it interesting for both of us I will challenge you ensure that you deliver on those options and outcomes (goals) for yourself.

Client: Ok, how much time?

Coach: Depends on you? Ten 45 minutes weekly, fortnightly or monthly coaching meetings with work by you in-between if you are serious. Remember sports coaches are not there all the time. Athletes need to focus, practise, explore, plan, exercise on their own or with their team mates. 

Client: Ok, I’m in, I think. (Pause) When and how do we start?

Coach: Good question.Michael.

Coach: Here is my outlook diary and you can choose a date this week or next Monday or Tuesday.

Client: Next Monday 10.00am.

Coach: Great choice Michael and you first question.

Client: Is?

Coach: How will you use our coaching sessions and how do you know that?

Client: See you Monday.

The above scenario was based on a real meeting that occurred when Michael was faced with changing his job role due to internal company restructuring due to advances in technology and global consumer demand. Like many employees he had confused his job title with who he actually was and he saw his identity as his job and his job as his identity 

During the first orientation coaching session he saw himself as a petrochemical engineer in the context of his rather narrow offshore job role identity and in the subsequent sessions he began to discover and see himself as a highly knowledgeable multiskilled trouble shooter and project manager.

It was interesting that he moved into a role that whilst his MEng was an essential badge of academic credibility enabled him to exploit his unrealised hidden potential and more importantly now recognise that potential in others.

His new role afforded him new horizons, an increased salary and a more hands-off approach to his work. As he said himself, “The more I understood about myself and what I had to offer, the more I recognised that my breadth of vision increased as my options increased:

As a coach, how do you go about recognising that hidden potential in yourself and how is that known?

John Fielder, is an NLP Trainer, Accredited Fellow Coach (AFC) and Mentor