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Last updated: July 19, 2018
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Our blog…

Why you and your managers need to be skilled "Level 2" performance coaches...


The problem - (for non coaches)

The clearest sign of a line manager who is yet to discover the benefits of performance coaching is their somewhat harassed look, and general demeanour of someone who is "on call" from first thing in the morning until last thing in the evening! If this description fits you (even just a little), or indeed any of your team then it will be useful to read on…


Senior people like ourselves – whether we are Directors, Managers, Team Leaders or Professionals  – have achieved our position through amassing experience, learning and skills. These are great attributes and assets - however they can get in the way of growing our own direct reports.


Let me explain: imagine a scene from your workplace where there is a queue of people waiting to speak to you. Typically each of them comes to you with one of the following: – a tricky/new task, a relationship issue or perhaps just a decision that needs to be made. At that moment you are (of course) a) busy, b) wanting the department to run smoothly and c) able to answer their question and make things okay for them.

So we simply go onto auto-pilot and help them, by telling them what to do ("write an email saying this, send it to X and Y and then follow up with a call on Wednesday!") They go away (happier) with an answer. Unfortunately the next time they need help – they may default towards coming back for more help (which is of course easier than thinking it through themselves!) If this pattern becomes established they can become quite dependent on your advice and guidance.


Does this tend to happen with your staff?


What is coaching?

Coaching in its purest form is about helping coachee's (through questions and feedback) to come to an answer. My understanding and belief in the power of coaching grew, when, some years ago, I was fortunate enough to enrol on an in-depth coaching training programme. As the days passed we were taught how to ask (great) questions, to listen attentively and without judgement or distraction and to give really useful feedback. I was fascinated by the questions - they seemed to get the "coachee" to become more aware of their own performance and take responsibility for its improvement. The opposite of course of just giving well intentioned advice!  


One particular model caught my eye – it came from Timothy Gallway, who is credited with being one of the founders of modern organisational coaching. His model was perceptively simple, he said:-


performance (in work, life, sport etc) = Potential - interference


where our current performance (note the small p) in whatever walk of life was less than our potential (note the big P)! The interference (i) was the stuff going on in our minds that reduced possibilities and stopped us from being everything we could be! Some examples from the workplace: –


"I cannot challenge my boss!"

"I need to speak to everyone first!"

"I'm not great at spreadsheets, so I won't volunteer for that project"

"The finance team are unhelpful!"

"You want me to give a presentation at the Executive meeting - no way!"

Question: I wonder what your interference is?


Why is it important to work with the interference?

Each of us have to cope with a lot of "reality" - there is so much data and information available to us. In fact we cannot process all of it and therefore we actually construct a personal and manageable model of this (very, very big) reality in our minds. This personal model is made of various thinking structures - our sense of self, beliefs and values, skills, strategies, favoured behaviours and knowledge. Many of these structures are very useful to us and help us successfully find our way in the world; but some are less useful, creating the interference that limits our performance and stops us being all that we could be!


Why "Level 2" coaching is more effective than traditional "Level 1" coaching?

Over the last two decades I've been thinking a lot about coaching and have trained many hundreds of line managers in coaching skills. I've developed a way of thinking about the effectiveness of coaching:-


 A Level "0" line manager will use their own innate approach but the benefits in terms of performance improvement are typically small.


A Level "1" line manager will use coaching skills based on mainly "action orientated" models where the coachee is asked to explore their goals, talk through the reality of the current situation and then find new (as yet untried) options/actions for overcoming challenges. The coach will also attempt to assess the likelihood of whether the new action will take place.

This approach works well in certain circumstances - those where the path to the new action or behaviours is unimpeded by any unspoken interference. Often coaching can feel productive (to both coach and coachee at the time) but at subsequent meetings it becomes clear that little has changed!


Given the limitations of "Level 1" coaching, we train line managers and professionals to  Level "2".


A Level "2" line manager is equipped with a more comprehensive toolkit and understanding. We use our own framework "ASPIRE" - which supports a more thoughtful approach, as well as a deeper understanding of Emotional intelligence, the use of specific NLP tools and some of the latest thinking/approaches from Neuroscience. As a result a "Level 2" coach is equipped to work with the following:-


                                   Different levels of performance coaching


Other peoples' viewpoints in difficult situations   

Unhelpful generalisations

Distorted thinking situations

Missing or deleted information

Limiting beliefs and other forms of interference   

This deeper dive into understanding their team members models of the world builds better relationships and allows for the exploration, understanding and reduction/removal of interference. Once the interference has been worked through - the individual has the opportunity and a new path to get closer to their personal Potential – and in the workplace this means more capable, more self-reliant and more motivated staff.



What level of coach are you / your staff?


We offer a range of in-house trainings:-



For more information please contact Paul Wahlhaus directly on (020) 8374 3985 or email info@shiftingminds.com via our website Click here for more information


Notes

ASPIRE = Ambition, Situation, Problems, Innovations, Resolve and Evaluate

NLP =  Neuro Linguistic Programming