Coaching Creates Time to Reflect

office-336368_1920We don’t need to be told that work is busy. Pressures are everywhere. Finish one task or one meeting and there is a good chance that the next few challenges are piled up ready to go. We rarely get the time to reflect as we power through our work, unless we allocate time or are forced into reflection by the questions of others.

Without reflection, we all struggle to focus and question our priorities, our relationships and our performance. The value of coaching is that it can create this space in our work week and help make our work far more effective. The power of questions from others is that they force us to reflect, to consider a wider perspective on our work and can break the patterns that form in our busy thinking.

Great leaders coach. They know how to ask simple questions of their teams that foster reflection on goals, priorities, alignment of work and the effectiveness of work. Creating a supportive coaching environment in a team enables people to reflect on how to improve more often and more effectively. Great leaders encourage peer coaching too.

Peer coaching is a powerful technique and one that can happen in the flow of work. Taking the time to ask each other “How did we do? What can we do better or different next time?” is all that it takes to create more reflection in our work. We don’t work alone the insights and observations of others can help us become more effective. Working out loud, purposefully sharing our work with our peers, invites our peers into our work and facilitates this reflection.

In the coaching work that I do, I find asking the simple questions clarifying goals, the situation and opportunities to do things differently creates a space for a new and powerful conversation. The time invested can have dramatic returns by clearing blockages, building new collaborative networks and focusing the effort of work. Often the improvement opportunities are obvious when someone has time to reflect on how they can do things differently.

An added benefit of the time to reflect through coaching conversations is an increase in accountability in organisations. Regular coaching conversations with a leader, a coach or peers, create personal accountability to translate improvement opportunities into action. Knowing that someone will ask “what have you done differently?” helps us reflect continuously on how well we are delivering on our plans.

Reflecting with the support of others is the heart of learning and performance improvement. How are you fostering a coaching culture to benefit your performance and the performance of the teams around you?

Simon Terry is a coach and consultant who helps individuals and organisations to make work more effective. Reach out to discuss how more coaching can foster reflection for you and your organisation. 

The Self-aware Self

A key part of the value of the quantified self is awareness. We know how to coach ourself when we give ourselves enough purposeful attention.

I’ve been travelling for work recently. Being away from home has put out my usual diet. I just didn’t have my usual options or as much ability to cook. Feeling the effects, I decided recently to start tracking my meals using the Fitbit app. I wanted to know what I was eating.

There were three quick lessons from this experience:
– the Hawthorne effect works: just being aware I was recording my meals ( with no cheating) helped me make better choices.
– after a few days I realised I didn’t need to know the data. If I concentrated on what my body was telling me, I knew whether I was hungry, when I had enough and what I shouldn’t eat. If I listened closely to those messages I could make better decisions without data.
– I enjoyed eating more, because I noticed what I was eating.

A big part of the value of the quantified self is helping us become more self-aware. We all benefit when we step out of busy distracted mode. There can be great value in novel insights from data. Usually, our problems are much simpler. We don’t need machines to tell us things we know but don’t do. We need to learn how to be more present and how to better coach ourselves.