By the end of this session:
- You will explore how to structure purposeful conversations.
- You will be equipped to structure and undertake corridor coaching.
As already stated, this course is not intended to train you as a coach (see www.metanoeo.org.uk if you are interested in that!), but instead for you to be equipped to play your part in cultivating a coaching culture in your organisation. As such, so far, we have looked at the key principles and thought about achieving these through our communication. In this session we will now look at what Peter Hawkins terms corridor coaching.
Hawkins has observed how in many organisations a manager is often approached with the question: Can I have five minutes of your time? What often proceeds is the individual sounding off about a situation they are facing imminently which feels uncomfortable and to which they need to find a solution.
Usually, the background to such a conversation is that something has / hasn’t happened, and the individual is now in their own mind creating a story and is beginning to catastrophise the situation. Here’s a typical scenario:
Jane attempted to call Jim about the sales figures for April. She needs to get them for a meeting tomorrow and emailed requesting them urgently yesterday. Jim hasn’t responded to the email or phone call and she is now worried that she has upset him and that he is ignoring and that this will result in her not getting the data she needs and looking incompetent. Now she wants you to follow up the call for her.
We all experience situations like this. Where there is silence our minds often to begin to write stories and our emotions start to react to our stories and we begin to feel distress. Situations like this one offer a great opportunity to undertake a short three-minute technique developed by Hawkins known as corridor coaching where we ask the individual a planned series of questions:
- What do you need from these three minutes?
- Who do you need to relate to?
- What are you feeling right now?
- What do you think the other person is feeling / needing?
- How can you connect with what they need?
- What are you going to do?
If the person is coming with a more practical question Hawkins suggests including more practical questions such as:
- Who can best help you with that issue?
- What support do you need to work through the situation?
- How specifically can I help you most effectively in these three minutes?
You will notice that in each situation the focus is on the other persons challenges, emotions, and resolution. Your role is very much as the supporting actor, or narrator adding an outside the story perspective to their experience.
If the person is wanting to make change in some way you might consider a model which again could be completed in just a few minutes such as ACE.
- Achieve – what does the person want to achieve; be specific and explore a clear picture of what a good life would look like in relation to this area of change using as much imagery and detail as possible.
- Challenges – what barriers will you come across as you move toward your intended achievement (note not what have you previously faced but effectively what will you overcome on route).
- Execution – what are the specific plans you are going to put in to place and when will you achieve each step?
Again, you will see that the components are heavily focused on what the possibilities are for moving forward rather than what has previously been attempted and not worked.
One final model we will explore is one which is designed to be used on yourself. The main difference between this and the ACE model is the addition of a final stage recognising for bigger visions we are often moving to a new interim closer state in our planning rather than planning a full solution. This is therefore a circular model in which after first steps are taken the cycle starts again.
- State of play – what is the situation you are wanting to address? What motivates change?
- Envisioned future – what would you like the outcome to achieve, look and feel like?
- Look for the route – how will you move forward? What bumps in the road might you expect?
- First steps – what is the smallest thing you can do now to make progress towards your future?
 Pp.90-91, Hawkins (2012)