A traditional approach to coaching and change (and “it’s common knowledge in the business world that change is very difficult. Managing change is hard work, creating change takes lots of effort, top management support is vital and yet elusive, and great care has to be taken to make sure it all doesn’t go horribly wrong” in the words of Mark McKergow)
a Brief Coaching, Solution-Focused approach to change (“it’s fast, effective, energizing, engaging, flexible, low cost…and somewhat counter-intuitive”, quoting Mark Mc Kergow again).
“Coaching relationships should be allowed to run their course regardless of how long this may take” – in Coaching That Counts, by Dianna Anderson and Merrill Anderson, p.252
“Successful coaching does not imperatively need to be arranged over a long period of time… In all three cases, only a single coaching session took place… As a Brief Coach, I see my contribution in enabling executives a usable start in the desired direction within a conversation… So coaching can be designed in a way to make further coaching superfluous“, Peter Szabó, Brief Coaching of Executives
“Finding 1: The Perceived Effectiveness of Coaching Increased with the Length of the Coaching Relationship. Those who were coached the longest (e.g., 18 or more hours) rated coaching the highest: 81% rated coaching as very effective, 17% as somewhat effective, and only 2% as not effective. On the other hand, those who were coached the shortest amount of time (e.g., up to 6 hours) rated coaching as less effective: 46% rated coaching as very effective, 40% as somewhat effective, and 14% rated coaching as not effective.” – in Coaching That Counts, by Dianna Anderson and Merrill Anderson, p.252
This resulted in the development of solution-focused brief counseling, a simple procedure which leads to
the rapid identification of sustainable and effective solutions. In concrete terms, this means that, by systematically refraining from counseling activities that are of little use, the time investment can be
reduced to an average of three meetings, each lasting 50 minutes. This form of counseling has
proved to be sustainable and effective, with a success rate of 86%, as shown by studies carried out
after 6 and 18 months. – Peter Szabó, in Introduction to Solution-Focused Brief Coaching.
I am not questioning the skills of coaches who use “traditional” coaching models.
They are doing an excellent job.
However, it takes them longer to get to the results that clients want, simply because they are using coaching protocols that require steps that are not essential to help clients change.
It is as if they were running a race with a heavy backpack: the weight of unproven assumptions about change weighting heavily on their backs, held back by the sheer amount of time required to engage in “change” activities (analysis, problem definition, finding weaknesses…) that are not necessary to help clients.
Solution-Focused Brief Coaching, on the other hand, is the art of asking only the few questions that can help make a difference for clients, and nothing else.
It is coaching in its purest form: brief, simple and effective.
And given the times, wouldn’t you want to get the results you seek in a singe one-hour session rather than in multiple sessions adding up to 18+ hours?
In the end, a few stats of my own for 2008:
– average number of sessions per client: 3
– percentage of coachees who say they are “very satisfied” one month after the last session: over 80%
– having effective coaching support at a fraction of the cost of traditional programs: in this economy, priceless!