The future of coaching and mentoring: evolution, revolution or extinction?

Both editions on our Coaching and Mentoring Theme are now available.  Click here for the editorials: Part 1 and Part 2.  

They open up some lively dialogue.  Well worth a look!  

Guest editors: Pauline Willis and Anna Britnor Guest of the 

Coaching and Mentoring Network started by posing some interesting questions:

  • Might coaching and mentoring be absorbed within a blend of development processes?
  • What role will non-clinical supervision have?
  • What new language and disciplines might come to the fore by, say, 2029? 
  • What impact will diversity and multiculturalism have?
  • What influence will economic factors and changing business practices have?  

Please share your views in this discussion, add further questions or check our invitation to contribute.   

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Hello Everyone,

We've had a phenomenal response to the call for contributions to this conversation. As a result, we will be publishing 2 editions, rather than one. The first focuses on the wider context and  the second on the impact of these wider issues on practices, tools and models.

From the initial review of papers, evolution is definitely not the only option being explored!

Our authors are from far and wide, which is very exciting to see. Some are also either members of this AMED forum, or the CMN, so if you have ideas or comments you would like to make, then posting in the discussion areas of either of these websites will ensure that your comments are seen. If our authors use your comments/ideas in their articles, they will of course, acknowledge you!

Most people so far, have preferred to email either Anna or Myself as guest editors with ideas and you are of course welcome to continue doing so over the coming months. However, we would be delighted if you would also share your brief ideas, musings, interesting items and web links in the forums. Just one caveat, no 'cute cat' videos please, unless you have found an appropriate 'feline focused' approach to coaching or mentoring!

Best Wishes

& look forward to hearing from you!

Pauline

 

 

Hello Everyone,

This is just to let you know that a new article has been posted at http://new.coachingnetwork.org.uk/article/is-evaluation-an-alternat...

This article is part of the conversation about the future of coaching and mentoring hosted by the CMN, AMED & OBCAMS and also contains information about a research project you can get involved with.

The research questionnaire, which is framed as the CoachInsight Toolkit (CIT) takes up to 15 minutes for you as a coach to complete. If you invite 5 or more of your coaching clients to complete as well, then you will be provided with a summary report that captures their feedback for you.  This is provided in a format that is useful for identifying potential areas of strength as well as where targeted improvement may be useful. Perfect for supporting a peer consultation or supervision process.

This research conducted by researchers at the University of Central Florida builds on existing research and the results will also be made available when they are written up by the research team. If you are interested in taking part, please do so ASAP.

Best Wishes

Pauline

 

I read this issue of eO&P with interest. 

Great value!

Congratulations to the editors and writers for sharing their experiences and thoughtful reflections.

At the same time, I wonder whether perhaps a less bleak prognosis of coaching might have emerged, had some of the authors examined authoritative models of coaching, such as that of Edgar Schein, the doyen of organisational psychology, who firmly advocated that effective coaching combines process consultation, diagnosis and content expertise.  Without diagnosis, even perhaps differential diagnosis, is it not the case that  the long revolution in behavioural improvement is apt to be bogged down in verbal exchanges more than tangible improvements? 

Great stuff in the Spring edition.  I should read e-O&P more often!  

Here are some personal reflections to the articles.  

Kelly Allan

I have been a card-carrying member of the militant wing of the Deming movement for a couple of decades now and I found it very interesting to listen to another paid-up member addressing the public!  (I hope I don’t offend him with my flippant characterisation.)  How does one alert others to a paradigm which may be completely invisible to them without being patronising or hectoring or just annoying? 

I was delighted to watch the Great Man facilitating the famous Experiment with the Red (or white) Beads, however, I remain sceptical about the analogy.  It is so obvious that the problem lies in the quality of the raw materials, that while participants may recognise the caricatures of management behaviour, I suspect they might say, “We’d never be so stupid as to blame employees for problems outside their control.” 

One of the big, counter-intuitive ideas – counter-cultural, even – is that encouraging people to strive individually, to “put forth their best endeavours”, is a significant part of the problem, leading to conflict within and between teams.  So Kelly disapproves of coaching because of its focus on the performance of the individual.  I wonder if he might acknowledge its value if the aim were to help leaders to see their organisations as systems or to help other individuals to see how their contribution fits into the bigger picture. 

Kieran Duignan

I really like this one, although not at first.  I was put off by language I found initially cryptic but eventually, intriguing.  ‘Cognitive ergonomic interfaces’, ‘the long cultural revolution’, ‘bouyancy’, ‘banallity’, ‘evolving cultural democracy’.  WTF! 

Slowly, I have come to appreciate the challenge of familiar words used in a baffling way.  I’m not sure whether or what I understood but I felt Kieran was hinting at something authentic and incisive, the nitty gritty, pragmatic realism of uncovering and exploring the undiscussible realms of human experience. 

Kieran spoke to me as if he expected me to understand quite a few concepts which, I have to admit, I don’t.  So I will need to read him a few more times and look up ‘repertory grid’ again. 

Bob MacKenzie

I am thrilled to be listed among Bob’s critical friends and to count him among mine.  We have been working on the journal together for nearly a decade and I was greatly cheered by its description as an ‘outpost of independence’. 

My critical feedback to Bob is usually directed at how he might worry less about hurting peoples’ feelings so he can reduce his word count.  But he is too thoughtful to give his feedback to me quite as directly as I would like. 

Interesting tension here.  I became interested in feedback through involvement in group development workshops in the 1990s.  The work was pretty intense and I went through a phase of overdoing it, tending to be more outspoken and direct than the circumstances might have called for.  Over the years, the pressure of social norms gently reminded me that, while feedback is of inestimable value in learning and emotion is a great source of data, good manners are also important and the concept of critical friendship, I find helpful, to keep this balance in mind. 

Vikki Brock, Julie Hay and Bob Garvey

I didn’t warm to Vikki’s article until I’d studied the whole conversation.  I thought, at first, “This is an in-house conversation.  She is writing for coaches and I am not one of those.”  Coaching somehow passed me by … but that’s not relevant here … apart, perhaps from giving some insight into my tendency to become exasperated when people take pains to distinguish between things which seem rather similar to me, e.g. coaching, mentoring and therapy. 

The motivation behind the distinction seemed more to do with advancing or protecting the interests of the coaches, mentors and therapists than with advancing the important work they have to do.  The American legal profession casts a dark shadow, similar to the British accounting profession in some ways.  They get us looking in the wrong direction. 

I found a different tone in Julie’s article: less defensive, more reflective and with a greater willingness to place the priority on learning, from whichever channel it might burst to surprise us.  Real learning has to come as a surprise, doesn’t it?  If I’m not surprised, then really, I already knew.  She introduces some helpful models too for discovering where we have become stuck.  

Then I had to go back to the Winter edition to read Bob and discover what Vikki and Julie were responding to.  Fantastic!  “Neofeudalism!”  Here’s Eric Trist, musing about the more encouraging uptake of socio-technical systems thinking in Norway than in the UK.  “Norway had not passed through a period during which patterns of deference to authority had become entrenched.” 

Bob’s perspective sparkles with the essence of what it means to be human!  Would I rather be a whole human being or a respected professional?  No question.  Does it have to be a choice?  I think so.  When I am being a respected professional, I can’t help but hold myself back in some way. 

This sounds a bit risky.  I think I need to read these again.  



David McAra said:

Great stuff in the Spring edition.  I should read e-O&P more often!  

Here are some personal reflections to the articles.  

Kelly Allan

I have been a card-carrying member of the militant wing of the Deming movement for a couple of decades now and I found it very interesting to listen to another paid-up member addressing the public!  (I hope I don’t offend him with my flippant characterisation.)  How does one alert others to a paradigm which may be completely invisible to them without being patronising or hectoring or just annoying? 

I was delighted to watch the Great Man facilitating the famous Experiment with the Red (or white) Beads, however, I remain sceptical about the analogy.  It is so obvious that the problem lies in the quality of the raw materials, that while participants may recognise the caricatures of management behaviour, I suspect they might say, “We’d never be so stupid as to blame employees for problems outside their control.” 

One of the big, counter-intuitive ideas – counter-cultural, even – is that encouraging people to strive individually, to “put forth their best endeavours”, is a significant part of the problem, leading to conflict within and between teams.  So Kelly disapproves of coaching because of its focus on the performance of the individual.  I wonder if he might acknowledge its value if the aim were to help leaders to see their organisations as systems or to help other individuals to see how their contribution fits into the bigger picture. 

Kieran Duignan

I really like this one, although not at first.  I was put off by language I found initially cryptic but eventually, intriguing.  ‘Cognitive ergonomic interfaces’, ‘the long cultural revolution’, ‘bouyancy’, ‘banallity’, ‘evolving cultural democracy’.  WTF! 

Slowly, I have come to appreciate the challenge of familiar words used in a baffling way.  I’m not sure whether or what I understood but I felt Kieran was hinting at something authentic and incisive, the nitty gritty, pragmatic realism of uncovering and exploring the undiscussible realms of human experience. 

Kieran spoke to me as if he expected me to understand quite a few concepts which, I have to admit, I don’t.  So I will need to read him a few more times and look up ‘repertory grid’ again. 

Bob MacKenzie

I am thrilled to be listed among Bob’s critical friends and to count him among mine.  We have been working on the journal together for nearly a decade and I was greatly cheered by its description as an ‘outpost of independence’. 

My critical feedback to Bob is usually directed at how he might worry less about hurting peoples’ feelings so he can reduce his word count.  But he is too thoughtful to give his feedback to me quite as directly as I would like. 

Interesting tension here.  I became interested in feedback through involvement in group development workshops in the 1990s.  The work was pretty intense and I went through a phase of overdoing it, tending to be more outspoken and direct than the circumstances might have called for.  Over the years, the pressure of social norms gently reminded me that, while feedback is of inestimable value in learning and emotion is a great source of data, good manners are also important and the concept of critical friendship, I find helpful, to keep this balance in mind. 

Vikki Brock, Julie Hay and Bob Garvey

I didn’t warm to Vikki’s article until I’d studied the whole conversation.  I thought, at first, “This is an in-house conversation.  She is writing for coaches and I am not one of those.”  Coaching somehow passed me by … but that’s not relevant here … apart, perhaps from giving some insight into my tendency to become exasperated when people take pains to distinguish between things which seem rather similar to me, e.g. coaching, mentoring and therapy. 

The motivation behind the distinction seemed more to do with advancing or protecting the interests of the coaches, mentors and therapists than with advancing the important work they have to do.  The American legal profession casts a dark shadow, similar to the British accounting profession in some ways.  They get us looking in the wrong direction. 

I found a different tone in Julie’s article: less defensive, more reflective and with a greater willingness to place the priority on learning, from whichever channel it might burst to surprise us.  Real learning has to come as a surprise, doesn’t it?  If I’m not surprised, then really, I already knew.  She introduces some helpful models too for discovering where we have become stuck.  

Then I had to go back to the Winter edition to read Bob and discover what Vikki and Julie were responding to.  Fantastic!  “Neofeudalism!”  Here’s Eric Trist, musing about the more encouraging uptake of socio-technical systems thinking in Norway than in the UK.  “Norway had not passed through a period during which patterns of deference to authority had become entrenched.” 

Bob’s perspective sparkles with the essence of what it means to be human!  Would I rather be a whole human being or a respected professional?  No question.  Does it have to be a choice?  I think so.  When I am being a respected professional, I can’t help but hold myself back in some way. 

This sounds a bit risky.  I think I need to read these again.  

David

Many thanks for your constructive thoughtful comments.

In relation to my own piece, next time I write or present about coaching with the psychology of personal constructs I'll do so in terms of 'language', 'wit' and 'Mastery and Performance Achievement Goals'.

Interesting that a repertory grid is not (yet) part of your own vernacular, as it is so often stereotyped as the only method associated with the psychology of personal constructs.  If offers the great advantage of enabling a client to explore questions of interest to them in their own language verbatim and then to score their own views on an agreed scale (e.g. 1 to 7);  from this, patterns are readily discerned both by inspection and by statistical analysis.  Like Louise in the story, clients commonly feel motivated to use tools on issues of important to them, when they've played a lead part in creating them.

Thanks, Kieran.  Look forward to meeting you at the AGM.  I'll make sure I'm fluent in Repertory Grid by then! 

David

Hello David

Your apparent incredulity in relation to ‘evolutionary cultural democracy’ in relation to coaching came to my mind when I read the article in the FTWeekend Magazine of 12th April 2015 about the accomplished engineer James Dyson.  For he views his part in the evolution of British engineering as part of a process continuous with the achievements of the Victorian Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the mid-20th century Alec Issignosis.

Comparable historical awareness permits understanding  coaching as an integral component of the cultural democracy discussed by Raymond Williams in his study of ‘The Long Revolution’.  Staging posts in this evolution include statutory freedom of the press,  widening of the franchise from 1832 onwards,  access to education and healthcare without charge for all citizens, committee procedures in lieu of management dictat, and in recent decades, legal safeguards from foreseeable hazards to safety and health at work, as well as rights of tenure and of respect in equality.

While it’s not conventional to include legal rights and responsibilities as cut from the same cultural cloth as coaching yet one likely source of alleged ‘neofeudal’ character of some coaching as well as the alleged lack of return on investment is failure of the ‘coaching industry’ to include within its mission raising the accountability of managerial clients for statutory rights at all levels at work.  Where  democracy is intelligently designed and cultivated at work, frameworks emerge that include within the scope of coaching attention to practices of participation, engagement, high productivity, safety, health, fitness and wellbeing of people working at all levels.

As for ‘cognitive ergonomic interfaces’, simply compare screens of smartphones. tablets and electronic checkouts in everyday use at work now with the evolution of workplace tools since the invention of the first computer mouse not much more than three decades ago, to appreciate how this simple construct functions so widely all around us,  As studies of human-computer interaction over this phase of history indicate, these interfaces are most effectively designed in work environments marked by prototyping that is the product of task analysis,  peer coaching and iterative development.  Comparisons offer metaphors of how harvests enterprising coaching  within democratic cultures remain to be reaped,  especially when viewers adopt the time perspective on evolution advocated by James Dyson.   

And the rep grid is probably best appreciated as part of a cluster of related tools including self-characterisation, dependency and implications grids, and fixed role coaching, with the practical economic advantage that they don't incur any licence or fee each time they're used

David McAra said:

Thanks, Kieran.  Look forward to meeting you at the AGM.  I'll make sure I'm fluent in Repertory Grid by then! 

David

Hi, Kieran.  I'm sorry if I appeared to express incredulity.  It wasn’t what I was feeling.  I found your article surprising and intriguing.  It went rather over my head but felt almost within reach, as if it might open a new door for me.  I remember using repertory grid for an appraisal process once but I can’t remember how it worked.  Your piece made me want to try it again. 

I am not familiar with the phrases ‘long revolution’ or ‘evolving cultural democracy’ but they sound optimistic to me.  I don’t find it easy to remain optimistic, knowing how hard it is to make transformational projects happen and – in the rare instances where they succeed – knowing how fragile the transformation seems to be.  

I sometimes think of 'Transformation' like a musician viewing a musical score, 'How will I convert these symbols and words into a blend of sounds, rhythms and cadences that mirrors the intentions of the composer and of other bona fide players?'  New contexts evoke or even require new musical scores.

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