To celebrate International Coaching Week (ICW) I’m running a series of daily blogs on both coaching & mentoring.
Today I am delighted to host a guest post from Jon Bartlett (@ProjectLibero) a professional coach, mentor and health worker. If you haven’t already, you can read more of his excellent blogging here. Here, Jon gives us a perspective on coaching in the workplace which I hope will resonate with you.
IRONIC OR IS IT?
When David first asked me if I wanted to do a blog for International Coaching Week I had just agreed to carry out some mediation training. It seemed slightly ironic that during the one week that is dedicated to coaching I would be doing mediation. However, as I thought about it made a lot of sense, let me explain.
For those of you who are unaware how a basic mediation works, let me do a (reasonably) quick explanation – basically you get the two protagonists in a room without all the attendant hangers on, be it HR staff, union reps or their best pal. You sit down individually with each of them, work out what is important and send them away to have a think about what they want to say to the other person. Then when they’ve decided you work with them to craft a form of words which honour their intent whilst also not starting a small office war. That takes up the morning, then after lunch you bring the two parties together. They both get an uninterrupted speaking time and it goes from there with the mediator(s) helping the flow of discussion, reframing some of the content, enabling them to see the others position. With any luck an agreement can be reached which enables them to continue to work together and saves on tribunals, oceans of paperwork and their pent up emotions ruining work for everyone else.
Now as a coach I often work with clients who are in conflict with someone else, and they want to examine how they perceive this person and how in turn they are viewed. So, transferable skill to mediation right there. I also work with clients who can only see one way forward in a situation and need to reframe their position, another transferable skill. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this but lets add another, deeper layer.
What about the clients who are in conflict with themselves, the ones who sabotage their own best efforts, or think the world is against them and that they have no control over anything? Well a surprising amount of people who are hugely aggressive during a mediation are in fact acting out of very positive intentions. They may have become the office “problem” because it was the only way they knew how to express themselves and they often feel powerless against the system / their manager / their team. Given a voice and the chance to build a rapport with the other person they become like pussycats. Well it’s the same with coaching clients. They don’t know how to talk to themselves, how to break free of years of poor programming, how to take charge of their own lives. They have basically fallen out of rapport with themselves and the skill of the coach is sometimes in highlighting that fact and starting the conversation anew.
So it’s appropriate that I’m mediating this week because actually, I’m just coaching in a different way. One of the many methods available to a coach and I’m sure you will hear more about other coaching perspectives during David’s great series.