“John asked for coaching support after he received feedback from colleagues to the effect that he communicated with his team rather bluntly. The goal of the coaching was to help improve his communication skills, to communicate more tactfully and be more aware of his impact. From early in the coaching relationship we tried to find situations in which John had previously displayed tact. Together, we explored these situations and identified triggers for more tactful behaviour in the past. We quickly identified some powerful triggers John could use to prime himself for collaboration. In the following few weeks John started to apply these solutions consciously. It worked”
Solutions-Focused Coaching assumes that each client has a wide repertoire of pre-existing behaviours that (given support and encouragement) they can apply to new challenges.
No Problem Analysis and Diagnosis
The solution focused approach finds it more useful to focus attention directly on building solutions for problems, rather than on analysing causes of problems and making a diagnosis. Focusing on what’s wrong usually drains people’s energy, makes them feel guilty and distracts them from focusing on their goals. We focus on what can work for them in the first instance.
Doing What Works!
Our approach is simple, but powerful. It involves:
1. Acknowledging challenges: First of all acknowledge the situations you find challenging. In what sense is it a challenge? How does it bother you or others?
2. Defining your preferred future: specify how you would like things to be
3. Identifying solutions: identify what helps you make progress in that desired direction (find out what works)
4. Amplifying solutions: if something works, do MORE of it
5. If you notice something does not work, stop doing it and do something ELSE
Respect and Collaboration
Solution-focused coaching is highly respectful and collaborative. The coachee directs the process. The coachee’s perspective, beliefs and goals are fully respected and acknowledged in the coaching process. The coach doesn’t try to change the individual. The approach is non-confrontational and non-judgmental. The coach is really curious and interested in the solutions of the individual and truly not imposing of ideas regarding what is best for some one else.
Our coaching sessions are very practical in their focus, akin to a one-to-one workshop, where participants can practice and work on key competencies or skillsets, for example, strategic planning, coaching a middle manager, making high level presentations, and so on. To facilitate these sessions we utilise diagnostic tools, behavioural analysis exercises, DVD recording, and so on. Our coaches also work with participants to identify authentic ‘assignments’ or projects through which key skills can be implemented, discuss the implementation of those skills, explore potential challenges and examine solutions to problems which may be encountered.
It’s Relatively Quick: Not a Primary Goal, but a Nice Side Effect
Solution-focused coaching can often be brief. One reason for this is that the coaching is very much focused on achieving specific goals. A second reason is that most clients pick up this simple (but not easy) way of dealing with problems quite fast. Having dealt with one problem, lots of clients are able to deal with other problems by approaching them the same way.