Tag Archives: coaching

What stops us making decisions?

You make a decision when you ‘make up your mind’. The downside of this is that when you make a decision, you have to let go of other ideas, options and possibilities. Some people find this difficult to do. There are many reasons for this, including:

  • Not having good decision-making techniques
  • Lack of confidence, not trusting yourself
  • Lack of information or even too much information to keep in your head at one time
  • Disagreement between group members
  • Level of responsibility – if your decision affects others and carries consequences, you may be reluctant to finalise things
  • Being emotionally attached to a certain outcome that is not the logical choice
  • The opportunity cost of making a decision and thus letting go of other options
  • Uncertainty over the consequences, especially if they seem to lead to a lose-lose situation

Sometimes we mull over the smallest decisions without knowing why. It may be because we have no deadline for the decision and are spending too much time on the details. Some people naturally take more time in making a decision than others; this is not necessarily a bad thing, but if time is critical this can have unfortunate consequences.


In order to make a decision, we need some personal benefit for making it. Bear in mind that one major benefit of   making a decision is that you no longer need to expend mental energy on it – it is a ‘weight off your mind’.

So, to motivate yourself to make a decision, you need to focus on how you will feel after making the decision. What will be the benefits of making the decision? In the end, it all comes down to the fear of consequences, which produce anxiety and in turn fuels the fear. To drive out the fear of consequences, look at any decision from these four perspectives:

  1. What would happen if I did?
  2. What would happen if I did not?
  3. What would not happen if I did?
  4. What would not happen if I did not?

Each of these is a subtly different question and you will get great clarity around the consequences of a decision by really thinking about each in turn.

Helping people on your team make decisions

You can lead by example, using decision-making techniques regularly and openly. This demonstrates to your team how important you think structured decision-making is and introduces them to the techniques. When your team has become comfortable with a specific technique and are using it regularly by themselves, start introducing new techniques.

You can provide training in decision-making techniques, either by getting external training for your team or running short, regular training sessions yourself. This introduces them to the techniques and raises the importance of practising decision making in their minds. Alternatively, if one of your team is a natural resource investigator and communicator, why not give this role to them and make it their ‘pet project’?

You can coach your staff individually to be better decision makers. Allocate time to talk with them about their difficulties in decision-making and help them to generate the solutions for their improvement themselves

Over time, the group will develop its own decision-making ‘style’ and even start inventing its own approaches.

Dealing with pressure

Feeling under pressure can disrupt the decision-making process, whatever technique you are using. Applying the techniques in a non-pressured environment will help. Get yourself away from the office and distracting interruptions if possible and concentrate on applying the techniques in a cool, calm and collected manner.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – to get your free trial of the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit


Tags: , , , , , ,

Employee issues – capability and conduct

Capability and conduct should be treated separately and it’s important to recognise the difference between warning someone for a capability matter or their conduct. Some organisations have separate disciplinary procedures for dealing with capability and conduct.


Dismissal on grounds of capability could be for one of three reasons:

  1. Lack of or loss of an essential qualification to do the job
  2. Lack of ability or skill – this can be repeated minor incompetence or one serious act of incompetence (poor performance)
  3. Lack of capability because of ill health


If an employee loses or fails to achieve a qualification necessary to do his job, he may be dismissed on grounds of capability. However, other options should be explored if, for example, an employee whose job it is to travel to clients loses his driver’s licence for a year. Can they work from home or office? Can they use public transport? Can he do another job in the business while his licence is withheld?

Poor Work Performance

It’s the manager’s job to show that poor performance is the reason for the dismissal and that you reasonably believe your employee is not capable of working to the required standard. Rather than dismiss for a minor incompetence as a first offence, it should be something really serious like a life-threatening action or omission.

You must help the employee by doing everything reasonable to help them meet the required standard of performance by using coaching and retraining and giving a reasonable amount of time to improve. You must warn the employee before dismissal of the consequences of failure to improve.

Ill Health

It is not unfair to dismiss an employee who is no longer capable of working because they are too unwell to do so. In cases of long-term ill health, you should concentrate on investigating the medical facts and consulting with the affected employee about the available options.

A person may be disabled if he has a physical or mental impairment which is substantial and exercises a long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

You must consider all the other options apart from dismissal. It may be possible to find an alternative job or change the job content to accommodate the employee’s changed requirements.

As an employer, you have to be seen to be considering all the options properly and going through a fair procedure to avoid an unfair dismissal claim, even if the end result would have been the same anyway, fair procedure or no fair procedure.


Dismissal for a reason relating to the conduct of an employee will be fair, provided the procedure is properly followed. Examples of misconduct:

  • Poor timekeeping
  • Poor attendance

Gross misconduct is a very serious breach of conduct by the employee. It may be an act or an omission, but it is tantamount to a fundamental breach of contract by the employee. Examples of gross misconduct:

  • Theft
  • Fighting, abusive or intimidating behaviour
  • Consumption of alcohol while on duty

Your procedure must list the offences you consider to be gross misconduct in your organisation.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – for access to the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit


Tags: , , , , ,

How Coaches Can Help Get Your Business Off The Ground

If you’re an entrepreneur or small start-up, developing your business plan can feel like an overwhelming task. Often, entrepreneurs will be the big visionaries behind a business – the charismatic individuals who can start a business from scratch, spot an opportunity in the market and have the drive, energy and resilience to make it happen. But they are unlikely to be the ‘details’ people.

Successful business planning requires a variety of skills. Marketing input is needed to formulate a strategic route to market, understanding the product’s features and key selling points, its distribution routes, pricing, promotional routes and marketing channels.

Financial input is required to project sales, revenues, costs and margins. Purchasing input is required to understand raw cost of materials, production costs, labour costs and overheads. Operational specialists are needed to advise on the means to get products to market and deliver to time and budget. Additionally, the HR input will be needed to work out what resources are required to deliver the company’s objectives and ensure the right talent is in place.

For a small start-up or SME, this requires input from a range of perspectives, knowledge-sets and experience levels. This is where business plan help comes in. There are a variety of sources for getting planning help; you can pay for consultancy support from a specialist provider, get in a contractor with a specialist planning skillset, or look for a mentor or coach to help you through the process.

Experienced coaches or mentors are ideal, as they will help lead you through the process and develop your own skills as you learn, rather than doing it for you and charging a commercial fee. Many mentors are also offered on a subsidised or even free of charge basis, through schemes run by local economic partnerships.

These ‘business angels’ volunteer their time to help small start-ups and SMEs to grow and they will usually be experienced and successful business people in their own right, with plenty of experience to pass on.

Get in touch with your local business services provider – business link is a good place to start for advice or your local chamber of commerce can help too. There is a regional network of providers that use a mix of government and private funding to offer business services such as mentoring and coaching to local businesses and help them grow and develop the regional economy.

Often, these organisations offer a raft of complementary business services too at subsidised costs, such as training, business advice, apprenticeships, regulatory consultancy and accreditations and alternative business finance access. Networking is usually a big aspect of these services and a great way to swap knowledge and experience with other businesses, meet new contacts, potential suppliers and potential contacts.

So get in touch with your local services provider today to find out what services are available to you to pin down a competitive business plan and take your business forward to the next stage.

Article brought to you by Rob who can recommend contacting Grow Cornwall for free business advice if you are a Cornish based SME.

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 23, 2012 in Coaching, Management


Tags: ,

We could be heroes: Self coaching and how to go about it – Part 2

Self coaching is a very useful tool and if used correctly and appropriately can be very effective in helping you take the initiative and make a positive change. If you missed Part 1 of this blog post, it can be found here.

Now we will continue to look at what tools you can use for self coaching. 

Action Learning Sets

An action learning set is a group of individuals who gather together over a period of time to explore a particular topic. Between meetings, the members of the set go away to explore issues back at work that are related to the topic. They then bring their experiences to the next meeting and discuss them with the whole set. Coaching yourself can assist you in getting the most out of an action learning set and vice versa.

During a 360 degree feedback process

Some organisations use either ad hoc or regular 360 degree feedback processes. If you are actively coaching yourself, this is likely to assist you in completing the 360 degree questionnaire, getting the most out of the feedback from the whole process and acting on it to further develop yourself.

Mentors (real or virtual)

This might be someone within or outside the organisation that can act as a mentor. You can test out with them the ideas and reflections that have come from your self coaching. Nowadays, mentoring can be face to face, on the phone or via email. 

You might be asking what virtual mentors could be. Well, even if you don’t have an actual mentor, or if you cannot contact them when you need to at a particularly challenging time, there is an exercise that can help you to tap into a mentor’s wisdom. Virtual mentors are people who you call on in your mind, rather than in reality. They could be dead, alive, fictional or real, mythical, historical, known to you or famous. Your mentor could even be an animal: for example, some people have a courageous lion or wise owl as a mentor.

The following exercise works well if you have a decision to make or are facing a difficult problem. You can do it either in your head or on paper, and it can work very well if you walk around and step into the different mentors’ shoes. The latter tends to be the most effective way of doing this exercise, so you will need a private space for it.


Step 1 Think about the issue or question you are facing.
Step 2 Think of three virtual mentors whose wise words about this particular issue you would like to hear. Perhaps mark a space with paper on the floor where they would stand.
Step 3 Take one of the mentors and step into their shoes, onto the piece of paper on the floor. As you stand in their shoes, imagine you are them. From their perspective, look at you, back where you were first standing. From their shoes, give yourself some words of wisdom, encouragement, support and/or inspiration to help you in the situation you are facing or the decision you are making.
Step 4 Step back into your shoes and take on board these wise words.
Step 5 Repeat steps 3 and 4 with each of the other two mentors.
Step 6 When you are back in your shoes, take on board the wise words from all three of your mentors. Then look up and visualise yourself acting on these wise words.
If you want more information on our coaching courses, or indeed any of our leadership and management seminars and workshops, visit our website or you can speak to one our team on 0207 436 3636.
Post courtesy of People Alchemy

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

We could be heroes: Self Coaching and how to go about it

Self coaching is not just a matter of thinking over the events of the day, week or month, though this is part of it; there are tools that will help to identify and capture the learnings.

Next time you are in a tight spot, and wishing for a hero or heroine to come and save the day, conjure up that person in your mind. Make believe that they are actually present and imagine what they would say to do next.

They won’t say “give up and go home”. They would NEVER say that! So what would they say instead? As you listen, realise that it is a part of you speaking, perhaps a more heroic part.

What happens if you follow the advice?

What happens if you don’t?

And of course, you might choose to have more than one heroic figure come to your rescue – because you can. They all have different skills and strengths that you can use. 

Tools for self coaching

Write it down

Writing down your thoughts has a number of benefits:

  • You can look back on what you have learned and see how much you have developed
  • The information will help you to prepare for appraisals and interviews
  • You can collect evidence for your CPD
  • If things are confused in your head, getting your thoughts down on paper can often help you to clear your mind and see things more clearly.

Use a journal, folder or document on your computer – somewhere private and confidential.

Learning and planning logs

These can provide a useful structure for your coaching process. They also assist you in completing the learning cycle and therefore help you to maximise your learning from any particular situation.

Other people

Although, ultimately, the person organising and maintaining the process is you, other people will play an important part in your self coaching.

Coaching yourself can feed into your appraisal and performance management process, partly because it will place you in a better position to know, beforehand, if and how you have improved. In other words, the process itself will increase your capacity for self knowledge.

How will I know if I am improving?

Many people are concerned about how, when they are coaching themselves, they will know if they are improving. However, self coaching rarely happens in isolation. It includes asking others for feedback and support to assist in the process.

Coaching yourself does not have to be a solitary activity, and those people who are more extrovert are likely to involve other people, in addition to spending some time on their own, reflecting on their learning. Those who are less extrovert should be aware that asking for feedback from appropriate people and learning from it is part of the self coaching process.

When asking for feedback and support, it’s important to make sure that it is constructive and meets your needs. Below are some of the ways you can involve others.

Peer coaching

This can be an incredibly rewarding process for both parties. It might be with a colleague directly within your team, within another department, another organisation or even with a friend. Your peer coach can be a useful sounding board for the thoughts arising from your self coaching.

Coaching from your manager

This can be either through asking for coaching on a specific development need or from the general coaching that you receive from your manager. The coaching support that you get from your manager can assist you in coaching yourself. In fact, it will hopefully prove an ongoing cycle, in which you, through coaching yourself, identify your development needs, are proactive in asking for coaching and, in this way, get further insights as well as constructive help.

In Part 2, we will look at Action Learning Sets, the 360° feedback process and mentors. In the meantime, visit our website for more information on what Catalyst offer in terms of coaching courses or give us a call on 0207 436 3636.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Coaching and the GROW model – Part 2

Following on from Part 1, in which we examined the Goals and Reality aspects of the GROW model, in this post we look at Options and Will.


Both of these truisms help illustrate the importance of options in coaching. You need to assist the other person in coming up with alternatives – different possible courses of action that can move them forward towards their goal.

Increasing choice is a key principle in coaching, so you have to help create the environment where this can happen. Choice often evolves from a creative environment so here are some Dos and Don’ts that might help.


  • Use brainstorming to help the other person come up with new ideas.
  • Ask questions, such as ‘What else can you do?’
  • Expand the coachee’s thinking with your questions: for example, ‘What if you could start again?’, ‘What if money was no object?’, ‘If you already had X, what would then be possible?’, ‘How would your hero or heroine tackle it?’
  • Suspend judgement of the options until you have them all out – often one seemingly unlikely option can give rise to a very practical but creative thought!
  • Feel able to offer suggestions as well, but make sure you ask permission first and help the coachee come up with as many options as possible before you offer yours.


  • Settle for one or two options – these are not likely to be the most creative.
  • Offer your suggestions until the coachee has come up with as many as they can.
  • Once you have elicited the options, you can then encourage the coachee to start evaluating them and thinking about which would be the best to progress with. 


This final stage of GROW is about a ‘call to action’. It’s about both making a decision and committing to action. Remember, these two things are different – decisions can be easy to make, but you need to ensure that action will be taken.

In this phase, you are helping the other person construct a clear plan of action. This needs to include specific dates and measures. Once you have this you need to probe for possible barriers – what could prevent these actions being taken and what is the other person going to do to overcome those barriers?

A lot of people have good intentions for action but can get sidetracked or waylaid by circumstances when they get back to their desks – email, telephone and any number of other priorities can stand in the way of action following a coaching session.

Finally, you need to probe for their motivation – how sure are they that they will take the actions? By being explicit at this stage you take away excuses and raise responsibility and accountability in the other person.

It is surprising how much activity coachee’s do just before a coaching session to complete the tasks they were set. The knowledge that those tasks will be scrutinised is itself a powerful motivator.

How can the GROW model be used? 

  • For coaching after a person has attended a training course to help embed learning and transfer it to the workplace
  • Before sales calls
  • At the end of an accompanied visit
  • As part of a telephone coaching session
  • During a performance management review
  • During a team meeting
  • As an initial coaching session or relationship meeting
  • In the ‘quick win’ coaching session.

Here are some key principles that underpin the GROW model.

  • Build rapport first
  • Be open and honest as the coach
  • Discuss the other person’s needs
  • Discuss your needs
  • Elicit needs rather than impose them.
  • Discuss how you can best work together
  • Work towards a win-win situation

Post courtesy of People Alchemy

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Coaching


Tags: , , , , ,

Coaching and the GROW model – Part 1

Some people have a preference for structure and would feel a little lost without it; others prefer the perceived freedom of working without structure.

Where do you sit?

We would argue that structure can really help people to feel more confident as it gives them a sequence that will lead to an output for each coaching session.

There are many coaching models that can be used to bring structure and sequence to your coaching. We have chosen to illustrate the GROW model here because it is simple, powerful and well proven. It is the most widely used business coaching model and grew out of studies of how successful people seemed to be able to move situations forward, particularly in the context of face-to-face meetings.

It was first created by Graham Alexander in the mid-80s and was subsequently refined and published by John Whitmore in his book Coaching for Performace (1992) .

The GROW model is easy to apply in practice and it ensures that you cover all of the important bases in your coaching conversations. It is flexible, easy to follow and can structure either a short or longer coaching interaction. 

Goal setting

What do you want? Identify short-term and long-term goals, and the goal for the coaching session.


What is happening right now? Focus on the current situation – current challenges, performance and strategy.


What could we do to achieve the short/long-term goal? Brainstorm to explore alternative strategies or specific courses of action.


Now let’s decide. What is to be done as a result of the exploration of options? When will it be done and by whom. Explore the will to do it (motivation). This is an opportunity to investigate obstacles and ways of overcoming them.

Let’s look at the first half of GROW in a little more detail.


Goals are particularly important in a coaching relationship. Goals give us direction and clarity, and assist in developing and engaging motivation.

Studies have shown that people with clear, written goals are far more likely to achieve them than those who don’t have them. Goals give specific focus to the coaching and align the coachee’s mind with what, specifically, they want to achieve.

Here are some important tips for goals in the context of coaching.

  • Ensure you take time to set long-term goals for the coaching, and short-term goals for the session itself. This helps set expectations and keeps coaching sessions on track.
  • For individual coaching sessions, you can ask ‘What specifically do you want to get from the next 45 minutes in relation to your goals?’
  • For long-term goals be sure to look for shorter-term performance goals. These are the milestones that give a sense of achievement along the way and help the coachee to see that they are on track for the long-term objective.
  • Build a compelling vision of what success will look, sound and feel like. Help the coachees see, hear and/or feel it for themselves. This is a technique that top sports people use to engage motivation and maximise their performance.
  • Make sure that the goals you set are towards something that you want rather than away from something that you do not want. Rather than a goal such as ‘To reduce customer complaints’, set a goal along the lines of ‘To achieve a 95 per cent or better rating on our customer service questionnaire’. The first focuses the mind on complaints whereas the latter focuses on achieving a level of satisfaction. When the coachee comes up with an ‘away-from’ goal, such as ‘I want less of …’, then you can turn this into a ‘towards’ goal by asking: ‘If that is what you don’t want, what specifically do you want instead?’


Reality is about objective, descriptive facts and current reality. Before you can move a situation forward it really helps to get very clear on what, specifically, is happening now. Often, this is the time that you surface limiting assumptions and beliefs that the other person is holding, which might limit their performance and sense of choice.

In your questions around reality, you might make a lot of use of the word ‘specifically’ to bring clarity and awareness to the other person. Look to find out what is working at present, what has been tried, what the result (specifically) has been, and so on. Be wary of generalisations about what is happening currently. Watch for words like ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘all’ and other words that tend to accompany global generalisations.

It is important to retain your objectivity as you are looking for what can be learned from the current situation. As soon as you judge, the learning available to the coachee is diminished and the other person might be tempted to justify what has happened and what they have done, rather than to think about it as feedback and learning.

In part 2 we will be looking at the second half of the GROW model and how it can be used in practice. 

Post courtesy of People Alchemy (@peoplealchemy on Twitter)

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Coaching


Tags: , , , , ,