Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 1, Issue 39;   September 26, 2001: Coaching and Haircuts

Coaching and Haircuts

by

Lifelong learners use a variety of approaches, usually relying heavily on reading. Reading works well for some ideas and techniques, especially for those with limited emotional content. For adding other skills and perceptions, consider a personal coach.

If you're reading this, you're probably someone who loves to learn. That's why you're probably pretty good at whatever you do, and why you want to get better at it. Reading is part of your educational program, and — obviously — I hope it remains so.

Getting a haircutYou probably also feel some frustration. You read. You learn ten ways to do this and seven steps to do that. And you make some progress. You've achieved some goals you've set, and some goals remain out there, even though you've been trying for ten months. Or ten years.

Reading can get you through some things, and not others. When you want to make a change, and reading hasn't helped, consider a personal coach.

Coaching styles and arrangements vary. In a typical program, you meet with your coach two to four times each month for from one-half to one hour, either in person or by phone. You can set up any arrangement that works for you. You're in charge.

If you're considering a coach, here are a few things to watch out for.

Recognize that you'll do most of the work
Being coached is different from getting a haircut. For a haircut, the haircutter does the work, not you. In coaching, depending on the style, the coach offers guidance, questions, wisdom, suggestions, support, encouragement, or even homework. But you do the work, not the coach.
Pay a reasonable fee
Being coached is different
from getting a haircut.
For a haircut, the haircutter
does the work, not you.
In coaching, you do
the work, not the coach.
Suppose you find someone to coach you for an unreasonably low fee. While this might work for some people, most will have difficulty doing the hard work needed. Most of us need the motivation of having made a serious financial commitment.
Know what you want to accomplish
You'll have a much better experience if you have a clear idea of where you want to go. Then you and your coach will decide to work on some achievable goals, and with guidance from your coach, you'll achieve them.
Choose a coach who doesn't know your organization
You'll get more insights (aha!s) when you explain your work situation to someone who's ignorant of your organization. You're forced to explain things from the very beginning, and that's often where the obstacles appear.
Choose a coach who isn't coaching anyone you know
A coach who has as a client someone in your life has a conflict of interest. Some coaches believe that these conflicts are manageable. I disagree. Steer clear.

In the end, "chemistry" helps determine the outcome of a coaching relationship. Sometimes you can tell when you first talk to someone that he or she is not your coach. Sometimes it takes a few sessions to know. Notice your feelings and trust them, just like you would after a haircut. Go to top Top  Next issue: Don't Worry, Anticipate!  Next Issue

Rick BrennerThe article you've been reading is an archived issue of Point Lookout, my weekly newsletter. I've been publishing it since January, 2001, free to all subscribers, over the Web, and via RSS. You can help keep it free by donating either as an individual or as an organization. You'll receive in return my sincere thanks — and the comfort of knowing that you've helped to propagate insights and perspectives that can help make our workplaces a little more human-friendly. More

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See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.

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Workplace speech and writing sometimes strays into the land of pretentious but overused business phrases, which I like to call high falutin' goofy talk. We use these phrases with perhaps less thought than they deserve, because they can be trite or can evoke indecorous images. Here's Part III of a collection of phrases and images to avoid. Available here and by RSS on July 18.
Office equipment — or is it office toys?And on July 25: Exploiting Functional Fixedness: II
A cognitive bias called functional fixedness causes difficulty in recognizing new uses for familiar things. It also makes for difficulty in recognizing devious uses of everyday behaviors. Here's Part II of a catalog of deviousness based on functional fixedness. Available here and by RSS on July 25.

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