Top Ten Tips on...

Coaching Models

14 August 2022
Effective Top Tens - Podcast
Quick, practical tips on a wide range of management and personal development themes.
Ten of the best coaching models - including some you will not have heard about before. The steps involved in using each, and the best context for each.

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the letters stand for benchmark, aim, need, difficulty and action. In this model, you firstly start by identifying where the other person, the individual being coached is, and that's the benchmark. So, where are they in now? Aim means where do they want to be. The difference between Benchmark and Aim identifies the gap that needs to be filled. the third letter Need is really simple: what do they need to close that gap? The first three letters are relatively easy and straightforward to establish, where are they now? Where do they want to be? And what do they need to close the gap? The fourth letter is the one that's really important: difficulty. And that can be summarized in three words: “what's stopping you?” You know what the gap is, you know, what you need to do to close that gap – so what's stopping you? Why isn't it happening? And that's because most people struggle with the difficulty. There's usually some kind of block or barrier to the person progressing. So focus on the D stage, the difficulty what's the barrier. What's the block and work hard to see if you can identify it, then remove that block. Once you've identified what the block or blocks are and what might be needed to get past those blocks, then A stands for action. What do you need to do to tackle that block? So the action is focused on removing the block, not on achieving that goal.



the letters stand for symptom, cause, options, preference, and execute. So symptom: what's the evidence that a problem or an issue exists? C is for cause. What's led to the problem? what's the reason why is it happening? Next, look for the options, how do you want to move it forward? identify the pros and cons of taking each option. And once you've analyzed the options, the P stands for preference, which of those options do you prefer? Once you've decided, then execute, put that preference into action.



this is a well-known and straightforward model that stands for goal, reality, options and way forward. The goal is what the individual wants to achieve. What's their purpose or objective? Reality is what's currently happening, what’s the current situation. O is for options. Next, what are the options for moving from reality to goal and way forward is what's the specific steps to take, which in many other ways is an action plan.



the letters stand for observe, provide feedback, experiment, review, and action. In this particular approach, the aim of the coach is to get the individual doing something which they can then observe as coach, then provide feedback and then try other ways of doing what they currently do. So the first step is observe, observe what the current situation is and what the individual does to handle that situation. The second step P is provide feedback. The coach would provide feedback on what he or she has observed. The next step is experiment, and this simply means a coach encouraging the individual to try something new or different from what they currently do. The next step is then for both to review the experiment? How did the new way or ways go compared with how the individual had previously handled the situation? Then finally, A is for action. Once again, consolidate the learning into some way.



the letters stand for aware, understand, capable, capacity and commitment. This model is particularly helpful if the individual is facing a problem, or their team member is not working well. A is for aware, does the individual actually know that there's a problem? are they aware that a problem or issue exists? The U stands for if they are aware, do they understand the significance of the issue and their responsibility for that issue? It's quite possible that somebody is aware of a problem, but doesn't think it's anything to do with them. The third step is the first of the Cs which is capable. If the person now is aware of the problem and understands its significance and their contribution, are they capable of doing anything about it? Do they have the skills to move it forward and make it happen? The second C is capacity. The individual may have the capability needed, but doesn't have the capacity: they're overloaded, and for them dealing with this particular issue is not a priority. And the final C is commitment. If the person is aware, understands, is capable and has the capacity, then commitment, or lack of it, is what we're left with. Using this model allows you to focus on the likely cause of the problem, and/or why it isn’t being dealt with And the model should be applied in sequence, since it moves from a relatively easy solution (awareness) to capacity and commitment, which, if the problem, are much harder to resolve.


Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

this is in pyramid form. And has 5 levels. At the base of the pyramid is survival. The next level up is security. The third layer is social. The fourth layer is self-esteem. And the top layer is self fulfillment. Maslow suggests that survival is the most basic of all needs. Only once that has been achieved is the individual prepared to move to the next level, which is security, which is a bit longer term than simple survival. Then only when security has been guaranteed would the individual move forward to looking at their social needs the way in which they integrate with and belong to a social group. When that need is met, the individual is more likely to be concerned about self-development and self-esteem making life work well for themselves. And the final layer, the top layer of the pyramid is self-fulfillment being prepared and willing and able and interested in fulfilling their own potential. And the essence of Maslow's hierarchy is that you can't deal with any of the layers is the layers below have not been met. So you can't deal with social esteem, social belonging, social relationships if the person feels threatened by security and basic survival. So for a coach, they can work through the hierarchy from the bottom levels to the top, seeing if they can find at which level the individual that we're working with is currently operating



this is a timeline model where the coach would focus on different times that are relevant to the individual they're working with. The letters stand for reason activity and consequence, which represents a timeline of past, present and future. Sometimes what the individual needs to do is to describe what's currently happening and be focused on that. Often they will talk quite extensively about the current situation, the problem, the difficulty that presents itself in the here and now. And for some, it may be important to go back into the past, to work out what's happened to bring that individual to the current situation. So the coach will need to work on the past to look for reasons for why the current situation has occurred. But for other individuals, it's important to look at the consequence, the future of what's going to happen in the future if nothing is done to improve the current situation. So the coach should be able and willing to move from past to present, to future back and forwards as needed.


Logical levels

this is a pyramid starting at the base level and moving through 6 levels to the top. And starting at the bottom, the 6 levels are environment, behaviour, skills, values, identity, and purpose. What's being suggested here is that each of those six factors might very much shape how the individual sees the situation and what what might be the most appropriate route for solving the problem. So starting at base level, what impact does the environment have on the individual? Is he or she affected by their surroundings? The next level up is about the individual's behaviour or habits. Does their behaviour significantly affect their ability to perform or, or tackle the issue? Is it a behavior issue with a behavior solution? The third level is skills. The individual may behave in a particular way because they lack the skills necessary to change that situation. So there's a skills gap. So the third level of this particular model is to do with the skills the individual has or doesn't have and how they might affect the situation. The fourth level up is values, which includes beliefs. What does the individual believe? What does the individual value that might affect both the situation and their ability to resolve it? Do they, for example, need to change or challenge their current beliefs? Do they have a presumption of the way the world is that is blocking them from making progress? Fifthly identity. How does the individual see him or herself? It's really an issue of ownership. If the individual is disassociated from the problem, sees the problem as being external to them, lying somewhere out there and not connected to them, then they're going to struggle to take any action directly to solve the problem. But if they identify with the problem as being something that they contribute to, that they have ownership of, then they're much more likely to take some relevant action. And the top level of logical levels model is purpose. Why does the individual feel they exist? To what extent do they feel they are here to make a difference in the world. It is at the highest level of logical levels. It could be that the individual lacks a real sense of purpose, of motivation, of commitment that would fuel or explain how they see the world and their relationship to it. Often people with very strong commitments have very strong causes that they sign up to emotionally, and they have a sense of making a contribution in the world that becomes their key driver.


Kolb’s learning cycle

this is about what kind of learner the individual is. Kolb offers four types of learner: Activitist, Reflector, Theorist and Pragmatist. In a coaching model the coach would be looking to see how the individual likes to learn, what their learning preference is. And they may get some idea of this from the conversation or from observing the learner in action. An activist is somebody who likes to learn by doing. A reflector likes to learn by observing, discussing, and by thinking something through. The theorist very often likes concepts or models (as in this podcast); they like to have some kind of construct or model or framework that they can use to apply reality against. The pragmatist is less concerned about the process than the outcome. What works. Rather than invest in learning, they might look something up, or ask someone. So a pragmatist is very functional, they just want to know what works, what gets them to the solution quickest and easiest. Kolb makes two points: firstly, that each of us is likely to have a different priority or blend of these four approaches. Secondly, that learning is often about working through all 4 as a cyclical process. Typically a learner would start by doing something, then reflect on how that went, then check against the model or theory, then change something in order to make it work better.


Motivational interviewing

this is quite a technical model and it's really for use with individuals who just aren't good at making progress who are habitually failing, and might have some kind of dependency that's difficult to break. So motivational interviewing tends to be used with drug or alcohol or some other dependency relationship where the individual finds it really difficult to break any dominant habit. The six stages of motivational interviewing are pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and relapse. I think it's the last two elements that are different in this particular model from many of the models we've already discussed. Pre-contemplation is what's the situation? What's the issue? What's the situation that exists before any intervention is made to tackle it. The second step is contemplation; helping the individual look at the situation and see what they think of it, what they want to do about it and how they might want to do something about it. Step three is preparation. Having considered and looked at the situation. what's the best way forward? What’s realistic?What are the priorities? What are their preferences? So what are they prepared to do to make a difference to change? Step four is action. What action will the individual take to put their preferred way into action and to progress? Step five is maintenance and here's the difference. This model assumes that most people who are habitually stuck in a particular way of behaving or acting will not change easily. The action needs to be maintained. So what steps need to be taken to support the action to keep it going? So there needs to be a maintenance plan, not just an action plan. The sixth step is relapse. This model allows or has the assumption that the individual will falter, fall or fail. Will stop, go backwards, or return to old ways. The individual will not progress in a straight line from where they are now to where they want to be. There will be relapse. And so there needs to be strategies that anticipate that relapse, and accept and accommodate it.

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