In informal coaching, we use the practice of encounter.
To be most effective we pay full attention to the other person, we are free of judgement and comparison and we respond with questions that lift the other person up into the blue zone and help them build clarity and commitment to take action that will improve their current situation – reduce their suffering or increase their happiness.
I used to think that we needed to put in place a formal coaching process to achieve this, but I now think that a formal coaching process has another purpose, it is to help people set goals in the broader sense of where their time and attention is best directed.
Informal coaching – solving problems people have. Formal coaching – aligning people’s time and energy to where it is most usefully directed for the benefit of the organisation and the individual.
With those contexts in mind, it is easier to introduce informal coaching as a way of practicing encounter, and as a follow on from the use of meditation and mindfulness to better manage our red zones.
Informal coaching will still lead to empowerment, other staff will realise that leaders will make them think and they will think twice before going to the leader, they will begin to make their own decisions. In the first instance, these decisions will be about solving their problems.
Formal coaching has a different purpose and, perhaps, is better introduced once informal coaching and some degree of empowerment has taken hold. Formal coaching directs people’s time and attention in the most effective way and leads, over time, to innovation taking place. Staff will begin to create new opportunities, rather than simply solving problems.