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Short-term coaching for quickly dealing with specific issues
A new technique adapted to entrepreneurs and impatient executives

« There is no favorable wind for the one who doesn’t know where he is going to. »  Seneque

While coaching is increasingly successful with managers and employees in large companies, a Belgian consultant develops a new technique specifically adapted to the needs of entrepreneurs and busy managers: micro-coaching.

Marc De Wilde was himself an entrepreneur and company director during 18 years. He knows therefore the necessary requirements to run a business. Throughout time, he developed coaching techniques that he successfully applied to his teams. The idea of micro-coaching came to him while discussing with other entrepreneurs and managers with an entrepreneurial spirit. This new technique aims at concentrating the approach of traditional coaching in a one or two half-days in order to solve a given issue according to an “entrepreneurial” approach.

Before going further, let us briefly review what coaching is all about.

What is coaching?

Coaching is a technique derived from the world of sport, aiming at unleashing the potential of a person or a team in view of a given and tangible result (to break a record, to reach the highest step on a podium, to get a championship cup). The sport coach is often a former athlete himself with a strong track record in the discipline in question. With his experience and charisma, he helps the coachees to deploy their talents.

Transposed in the world of the enterprise, coaching consists in the accompaniment of a person or a group of persons in order to develop their potential and thereby maximize their performance to achieve business objectives.

Coaching aims at revealing less visible aspects of your personality, your fundamental aspirations. The discovery of these basic aspirations provokes a sort of magnetic appeal for these objectives, generally accompanied by a substantial contribution of energy and incentive. Life and all its aspects become simpler to manage.

Coaching is different from training. Training rests on a “push”-type approach, whereas coaching is based on a “pull”-type approach. The coach makes the coachee aware of his inner qualities and helps him develop them. On his side, the trainer brings new external knowledge to fill a gap or improve the trainee’s expertise.

Likewise, a coach is not an expert. His role is not to bring supplementary information to the enterprise but rather to maximize its human capital.

Some examples of coaching interventions: development of a manager’s leadership qualities, familiarization with a new position, growth of self-confidence, backing of team spirit, stress management, etc.

What is micro-coaching?

As the name indicates, micro-coaching is a coaching technique, and is therefore based on a “pull”-type approach. One calls on the innate qualities of the coached person.

The specificities of micro-coaching are threefold:

1.       The approach is rather focused on the issue (e.g. decision taking, relational problem with a member of their team, negotiation, key presentation, speech in front of a large audience, etc.) than on the person. The micro-coaching concentrates on the issue of the moment and the search of solutions by calling on your known and hidden resources. While working on an actual situation, you discover new potentialities that will not only be useful to solve the current issue but also in the future. Most coached people also feel a meaningful contribution of energy and the surge of new ideas.

2.       the approach lies on a methodology specifically adapted to the rapid solution of a given professional issue. This methodology also uses proven TA, NLP, systemic approach and PCM techniques.

3.   The length of intervention is always short (usually one to two half-days). The following metaphor will illustrate the subject: imagine that your car got stuck in the rut; you tried to get it back on the road to no avail, your wheels slip and the situation gets worse. You need a helping hand merely to get you out of this bad situation. Once you’ve come out of the rut, you take the wheel and continue your road. You don't need a monitor sitting at your side.

This is why micro-coaching is a technique particularly well adapted to the needs of entrepreneurs and managers with an entrepreneurial drive. It allows a leader to quickly handle any given professional issue. The coach's mission consists in playing the role of mirror to allow the coachee to step back and get a global picture of the situation and hence, "to see" the actions to take.

Some cases of application

·      You hesitate on a strategic choice. The more you think about it, the less you see what to do. It is the moment to call on a coach specialized in micro-coaching.

·      You intend to join with associates or to hire a key collaborator. What are the important criteria for you? Is it necessary to privilege such aspect to the detriment of another? You don’t want your own subjective feelings to have the upper hand. You need an objective opinion.

·         One of the members of your team, though brilliant, causes you worries. You don't know how to approach her/him. Each previous attempt has resulted in a clash. A coach will help you better understand the type of personality of this person and the appropriate way to approach her/him.

·      The circumstances force you to reorganize the organizational chart of your company. This reorganization can affect some egos among your collaborators. You want a second opinion before putting the new structure in place.

·      You go through a period of doubt and don't see the sense of all your efforts anymore. You need a shock treatment to recover energy and incentive.

·      Someone offers to take over your company. Is this the right time to sell? Friends bombard you with good advice. You don't know anymore what you want. The time has come to refocus on your own aspirations.

What does happen during a micro-coaching session?

You sit and speak about your issue, with someone in front of you who is entirely dedicated to you.

You expose the issue and the coach asks you some questions. It is important to understand that the role of the latter is not to bring answers to your questions, but rather to help you find them on your own (see “pull”-type approach explained above).

From the start, the coach forces you to take an active role. You hold your destiny in hand. Simply listen to what you say, write down what sounds important, and explore carefully the evoked topics. Everything you say could be told alone in front of a mirror; but the coach forces you to deepen every point, to structure it, and finally to validate it. He prevents you from jumping from one idea to the other, from zapping.

A coach never judges, so that you can speak in all confidence, without reserve. He also makes sure that the discussion remains within professional boundaries. He makes you keep your feet on the ground while reinforcing your motivation. You analyze the issue down to the smallest details, in easily workable elements.

The length of intervention is generally of one to two half-days according to the nature of the problem in question. A few hours of follow-up, generally provided by telephone, are often considered as useful.

Advantages of micro-coaching

·      The micro-coaching approach is fast. Investment in time and in money is limited and results are immediate.

·      The micro-coaching approach is flexible and functions on demand. The issue arises, you take an appointment with a coach, and you get to work.

·      Micro-coaching doesn't require any preparatory work on the coachee’s side since spontaneity is the key to the approach.

·      Micro-coaching doesn't require any effort of memorization or assimilation of a new knowledge since the solution emanates from the coachee himself.

·      The coachee keeps control over the process at any time and doesn't undergo any external pressure nor any personal calling into question.

·      By analyzing the issue and its possible solutions, the coachee learns by himself useful lessons for the future.

·         The coached person is particularly motivated to implement the solutions since he found them by himself. This leads to a much higher efficiency rate than with a classic training or consultancy.

Limits of micro-coaching

Micro-coaching doesn't suit everybody’s needs. Its focused approach requires a strong willingness to progress from the coached person, and this from the very beginning of the intervention. It appears that this intense approach corresponds to the temperament of most entrepreneurs and some operational managers. This type of profile prefers to handle problems in a direct and very pragmatic way.

On the other hand, when it is about accompanying executives and managers at crucial periods of their career (new responsibilities, period of doubt, recurring relational problems, stress management, etc.), the classical coaching approach is more appropriate.

Conclusion

Coaching and micro-coaching are particularly efficient disciplines because they call on the person's innate qualities rather than to bring external knowledge. The coached person is therefore more enthusiastic to put his findings in practice. By its issue-focused approach, micro-coaching especially suits entrepreneurs and some operational managers.

For further information: http://www.executivecoaching.be

Contact : marc.dewilde@executivecoaching.be ou +32 (0)473 94.21.47

Written on 12-Feb-2003

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