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Speed Coaching

In the classic ‘The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey’, Ken Blanchard wrote:

‘Monkeys, monkeys, monkeys! I even had some ricochet monkeys! These were monkeys created by Maria, whose work and personal style sometimes caused problems for people in the other parts of the organization. The other people then brought the problems to me for my invariable reply: "I’ll look into it and get back to you.”’

Any school leader will recognise the hazards of acquiring more and more of other people’s priorities and problems.  We also know that the application of coaching strategies can be an effective solution.  By applying a coaching style we achieve a number of benefits: our colleague feels valued and listened to, we don’t feel obliged to generate solutions, and responsibility for the issue continues to sit with the person who raised it.  If the benefits are so clear why is a coaching style so rarely applied?  Feedback from the leadership professional development sessions that we facilitate for middle and senior leaders indicates that that main reason is ‘It takes too much time’.

The following is a speedy approach to coaching.  It is quick and can be a bit of a shock. You may wish to practice it in low-risk situations until you feel comfortable with the use of it.  Here’s the scenario (your words in italics):

‘I’m glad I caught you.  I’ve got so much on at the moment, what with the meeting coming up, that policy review and performance management reviews, I don’t know how I’ll get that book look done.’

‘Thanks for letting me know.  On a scale of 1 - 10 how likely is it that the book look can get done by the deadline?’

‘Oh, I don’t know.  I suppose about 3, something like that.’

‘What can you do that would move that to a 4?’

‘Umm. I could shift one of the reviews to next week.’

‘That sounds like a great idea.  Give that a go and come back to me tomorrow afternoon, and tell me how that’s worked.

Is it a perfect solution?  No, but then, what is?  As a strategy it’s quick to apply and, if it succeeds 80% of the time that’s going to help isn’t it?  So, pick a time, pick a person, and give speed coaching a go.

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