Some Thinking Behind My Current Coaching Strategy

Based on some conversations the first weeks back from vacation I’ve started questioning what I’m doing, how I’m doing it and how I’m adding value. So I thought I’d spend some time on thinking and clarifying that to myself.

First of all I’m working under the assumption that the MVP deadline we have is the most important thing. Starting the transformation work is secondary. This is what I’ve been explicitly told. My focus here is therefore simply to engage and empower the people involved so they can do what they believe needs to get done to achieve the success criteria. In the meanwhile I’m starting to lay the foundation for the transformational work that has yet to begin.

One thing I believe is connected to the success of both agendas is the obsessive deficiency focus in regards to people. This is a behaviour I’ve observed in all areas (no more than 3) I’ve been in so far. More specifically the behaviour manifests itself as conversations about what capabilities we don’t have, what competencies we are lacking or what roles are not filled on paper. There are a few implications of this that are my main concerns.

  • The mental priming effect in the current members. By constantly talking about a deficiency you are implicitly saying that the current members are incapable of doing the work at hand. It is my belief that the same kind of thinking is what has prompted the creation of roles such as Subject Matter Expert (SME) and Business Analyst (BA).
  • The short term effect of introducing a new member. If we look at Satir’s Change Curve we know that by introducing a foreign element in a group, such as a new member, you disrupt the status quo and challenge group norms. The immediate effect is a drastic drop in efficiency and especially effectiveness. The duration of this drop is dependent on the impact and severity of the challenge and when it comes to introducing a new member, your ability for onboarding new members will have the biggest impact. As a generalization you can expect this drop to last for 3 months when adding new members.

Todo – add the nice picture I drew

Figure 1 – Virginia Satir’s Change Model

My coaching strategy in relation to this comes from the perspective that is very well summarized in the question: What do we need to do to achieve the success criteria with the people we have?

Another aspect is the lack of vision and purpose for the product/service that is being created. And more so the effect this has on the autonomy of decision making. A vision is meant to be a guiding star that provides a rough direction. My premise here is that this guiding star helps with the minor day-to-day decisions as well as larger strategic decisions. By highlighting and communicating the vision we are promoting a culture of trust and distributed, autonomous decision making. By not addressing the absence of one, the opposite is promoted instead.

My coaching strategy here is based on my experience. I have never seen a successful leadership team without a crisp and well communicated vision, be it a project or entire organization.

Furthermore on decision making is the clarity and shared understanding of accountability and responsibility. This usually goes together with particular roles. In a setup where the titles doesn’t align with the perceived roles, as well as some roles remaining unfilled, it is close to impossible to understand where responsibilities lie. This in connection with the deficiency focus further promotes a culture of little initiative taking. Read the sentence above again where I talk about roles being unfilled, what implications does the usage of the word “unfilled” have in your mind? I will not elaborate on that particular part right now, but I noticed it myself now that I transferred my notes to this document.

The things I’m mentioning above makes for my overall area strategy right now. On an individual basis there are unique nuances of this. Each individual is just that, individual. Which means that a general approach will not be universally applicable. What I’m saying is that this is the thinking that is driving my coaching for the particular group I’m currently working with. Should you wonder why I’m doing what I’m doing you can be sure that this is where it is coming from at least, should you want more details you can always come and ask.

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