Two sets of rules reduce risk!

Coaching requires intervention. Intervention involves taking a risk, even if the intervention is as passive as ignoring something. Managing the risk of intervention is important for every person involved in a coaching experience so that everyone maximizes the value to the coaching transaction. There are two categories to consider when managing the risk of a coaching.  All coaches must address positioning/contracting and develop a rationale for intervention to reduce risk.

  • Positioning is a form of lightweight contracting (formal coaching may be not lightweight at all). 
    1. Positioning begins with establishing the permission to interact.   Permission forms an agreement on why you are coaching, what is the expected outcome and the actions will be taken to achieve those outcomes.  
    2. Second, establish the norms of behavior between the coach and coachee.  Establishing norms provides the rationale for intervention and the implied permission to intervene. Norms of the team provide a model to compare or assess against.
    3. Third, positioning requires establishing credibility.  Credibility establishes why someone should listen to and trust you as you interact with them.  
    4. Four, state your intentions as a coach. All parties need to understand what you want as a coach from the coaching relationship. 

All four steps provide a basis of help coachees and coaches think before you act.

  • Deciding on a rationale for intervention should not be a trivial task.  The natural resting state of a coach should be observation but when the time is right a coach needs to shift modes.  Shifting modes at times can require the speed and dexterity shown by Clark Kent as he changes to Superman. Each coach has their own magic formula for deciding when to shift into action but the basic path can be seen in most transformations.
    1. Decide if you have permission to act/intervene.  The coach must mentally answer the question whether the coachee (or group) has consented to acting and to the level.  A pitching coach does not have permission to coach the head of marketing for the baseball team on marketing. A coach must have standing with the coachee or team in order to reduce the risk of intervention
    2. Determine if the issue is impeding the group.  If there is no impetus for learning and change there intervention does not make sense.
    3. Can the intervention make a difference? This factor impacts the timing and level of intervention (we will tackle the level of intervention in the next essay).  If intervention cannot make difference for the current situation the coach needs to time the intervention so the coachee maximizes the learning process. I had a little league baseball coach (he was a good coach) that would provide guidance and advice in the moment for situations that could affect the game or practice immediately and for those that were more long-term issue would provide provide observations and guidance after an event in situations where experience need to be part of the learning model. The coach needs to answer the question,”do i need to act now?”
    4. Make up your mind whether the intervention can be effective.  I have been in coaching scenarios where I see an issue but don’t have the tools or skills to immediately address the scenario. Intervening in situations that you could muck up the problem more almost always counterproductive. Note:  This may be an indication that it is time to help the coachee (or team) find another coach or find help for a specific issue.
    5. Reflect on your reason for intervening.  Even though coaching is a transaction, the focus of a coach needs to be on the person or group they are coaching. If a coach is intervening to serve their own needs they are doing it for the wrong reasons.

Deciding when to act significantly impacts the effectiveness of a coach.  While filtering through five decision points sounds daunting, preparation, practice, and experience make sorting through the list seem less daunting and will reduce the number of knee-jerk reaction type interventions that reduce the value of coaching.



Which form of intervention is best?



Coaching:  Six Modes of Operation