Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Do yo' Dojo?

One of the major bits of my personal development has been through coaching dojo's, which were first run by Helen Meek from RippleRock.

Taken from martial arts a dojo is a place for practice. How we use them is not much different - it is where we practice coaching.

Just like a real dojo a coaching dojo is a special place and it needs to be cared for. In a coaching dojo:

* We create a safe space - nothing is judged, nothing is shared with others
* We are all learning and mistakes are inevitable
* We turn up on time!

The setup works best with one host and 3 participants, 2 is OK as well. 1 hour sessions work well, you can expect to be pretty tired at the end of one!

We often focus a session on a particular coaching method. Starting with GROW feels right and is a simple method for people to understand and use for the first time. We usually include an intro for first timers to help them understand what coaching is and is not - discussing the difference between coaching, teaching and mentoring often helps people understand.

Through multiple sessions, once people have enough practice in one method you can then introduce more: SARA, OSCAR, CIGAR, 5 Whys etc.

We ask people to come with a problem. Ideally this will be current and real, something you need help with. Alternatively, you can go back to a situation you have already been through and maybe had some sort of resolution to. The key thing is that it is real for you. You can role play but it is just not the same, you are welcome to have your own opinion.

In a timebox of your choosing (7 - 10 mins) you have a coaching session. Someone volunteers to be the coachee (the one with the problem) and someone to be the coach. Everyone else is an observer, writing notes is a great idea allowing you to play back your observations in sequence. It is important to feedback both good AND bad since both perspectives are required. Suggestions are always welcome.

You allow the coach to complete their session and then the host gathers feedback. We ask the coachee for their perspective as well as the coach and the observers, including the hosts. It is somewhere in these perspectives that you learn what works and where you can improve.

Swap the roles round and repeat as many times as you can in your session.

In running these sessions, we have found there is no one type of person who benefits - everyone who has attended these sessions has found them useful irrespective of role. There is a lot that can be said about people taking the time to learn how to listen and ask 'powerful' questions....

For me personally, I have a tendency to solutionise. This led to me asking closed questions very frequently which is not helpful for the coachee. I was also pretty terrible as listening, often steering a conversation to where I wanted it to go rather than where the coachee needed it to go. Had I done this with a 'real' person I fear I would have done more harm than good.

True Story: In an effort to show me how many closed questions I was asking, Helen once simply responded 'no' to each one. It was brutal. Having said 'no' for most of the session, it was pretty obvious what I needed to improve. It was only through coaching sessions did this happen even though I had read several books and been to several meetups about coaching.

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