Tag Archives: Coaching

Reclaiming Good Coaching Practices – 5 Core Practices and Supporting Exercises

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It is estimated that the business coaching industry has reached $11.2 billion[1] and will continue to grow at an annual rate of 6.7 percent. This explosion of demand for good coaches is due to our universal need to learn, grow, and improve. People want to accelerate their progress in areas of life that matter most. A good coach does exactly that.

In this series on reclaiming good coaching practices, we’ll explore five practices of successful coaches. Each practice will include an exercise to develop your awareness of that faculty. By good coaching I mean helping the coachee resolve a specific challenge while developing as a more effective human being. The person you coach defines what “effective” looks like.

 The reason anyone seeks out a coach is to get better at something. A good coach provides a neutral, nonjudgmental perspective and brings deep presence to the conversation. But effective coaching is not about making suggestions and giving advice. It’s all about supporting them to explore the situation, consider different perspectives and possibilities, and make progress through self-designed experiments.

 While coaching other coaches, I often see signs that we have wandered off the path away from good coaching practices. So what makes an effective coach? What skills have the best coaches mastered? Reflecting on the great coaches I have had in my life, a few key practices rise to the top. Effective coaches support the coachee’s personal growth as they search for solutions to the challenges they face. We have to remember that the goal in coaching is to support the person being coached so they develop themselves while striving to resolve their issues. The process is really one of co-development, as both the coach and coachee do the work necessary to improve their thinking and doing. Both the coach and the coachee change and grow during the process. As the person you are coaching strengthens their abilities to solve problems, you also strengthen your coaching skills.

We will focus on five coaching skills common to every good coach I have ever worked with. These are not the only skills that matter in coaching. I am sharing the most impactful practices that helped me develop as a coach and as a human being. It turns out the two are inextricably connected.

The five coaching skills are:

  • Listen – going beyond hearing
  • Connect – creating trust and safety
  • Feel-Think – not getting in the way
  • Coach – positioning the other
  • Teach – sharing knowledge

An effective coaching conversation moves between these elements. The coaches’ attention is determined  by where the coachee is in their thinking process. In future posts, I’ll explore each of these areas and share exercises for strengthening your coaching skills. Until then, be well and coach well!

About Michael Orzen

Michael has been coaching for more than 30 years, supporting people and teams to apply  conscious awareness, flow, and enterprise excellence practices in complex work environments. His work had led him on a journey of personal discovery and deep gratitude. His coaching method is based on the mindful awareness, authentic connection, and appreciation of the stories we share. He can be reached at mike@mikerozen.com.

[1] The International Coaching Federation reports global coaching revenues to have reached $20 billion in 2022. https://coachingfederation.org/blog/3-trends-that-will-shape-the-future-of-coaching

Intentional Respect

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Change is hard – we all know that – and ignoring the element of respect for people makes engagement and lasting change practically impossible.

Most of us are familiar with the Toyota Production System House, with its two pillars of Kaizen and Jidoka, but the model that resonates more deeply with many is The Toyota Way House as you can see below. This is certainly the case for me, and I’ve been reflecting on why this is.

Here’s a thought: the Toyota Way model suggests a relationship between the technical and social sides of a lean transformation that we intuitively know to be true.

On the left side is continuous improvement or kaizen, and here where most people invest their time, learning, and experimenting with the myriad lean tools available: value stream mapping, 5s, A3, PDCA, standard work, visual management, kanban, heijunkahoshin kanri, etc. These tools can be very effective at making a significant impact on safety, quality, delivery time, throughput, and productivity. However, most people discover that a tools-based approach to lean transformation is impossible to sustain and does not create anything approaching a lasting change for the better of people, teams, or organizations.

It’s really not surprising then that, according to McKinsey, 70% of all organizational improvement initiatives fail. This isn’t surprising considering the very few examples we have outside of Toyota of enterprise-wide lean transformations. There are many reasons why this is, but perhaps one key factor is that most organizations fail to intentionally balance the technical tools side with the social side of Lean. Most people say, “We respect our people. In fact, it is one of our core company values!” I don’t deny that most of us strongly believe in respect for people and that is great. But there is a big difference in believing in something and acting in a way that aligns with that belief.

On the right pillar is respect for people, so what does that really mean and what sort of actions can we take that shows we really practice respect for our people through the way we do our work? It comes down to this: how are we engaging our people? Is the purpose in peoples’ hearts aligned with our organization’s purpose? What specific behaviors are we taking to stand in the other person’s shoes and develop a deep awareness of their point of view? Do we try and try again to see the work from their perspective?

We spend so much effort trying to design perfect work systems and improve business processes focusing on lean tools, while simultaneously failing to connect with people on a level that awakens mutual trust, engagement, effective teamwork, and self-generating accountability (in other words accountability wherein people are intrinsically inspired – people assume accountability because they want to, now because they are being told to, measured, or threatened). A key takeaway from the illustration above is that creating a balance between the technical and social sides of Lean is not just good, it’s fundamental. It is the foundation upon which everything else rests. So, what are you doing in your organization to create this balance?

The next gemba walk you take, kaizen event you participate in, or daily stand up you attend, or A3 you review, ask yourself two questions:

  1. “What are we doing to show our people how much we care and how much we respect their opinions, ideas, contributions, and potential to transform?”
  2. “Are the actions we are taking to lead with respect fostering the levels of engagement, teamwork, and accountability needed to attain our vision and purpose?”

I recently worked with the Lean Enterprise Institute to create a new workshop, Lead with Respect, to address this very issue. The two-day experience is based on the book, Lead with Respect, a novel of lean practice, by Michael and Freddy Ballé. We developed the workshop with the support and input of Professor Ballé over the course of eight months and uses hands-on exercises to reinforce the specific behaviors of respect for people while applying the technical side of lean – those tools we are all so familiar with. This workshop raises our collective level of awareness of what effective leadership looks like and builds a bridge connecting the tools side of lean to the results and relationships side. Indeed it is only when we create an environment of mutual trust that we can change work habits and sustain high levels of performance.

Note: This version of this blog entry first appeared in the Lean Enterprise Institute’s Lean Post.