What, When, and How to Coach in Interrupt-Driven Cultures

“Work” is people having conversations with one another to get things done. Conversations drive innovation, change, and results. And coaching conversations, in particular, sustain the results leaders want. Mariposa Leadership, Inc. has worked in high-tech and financial services organizations for the past 16 years. In that time, we have developed and taught ITM (In-The-Moment) Coaching™ — a practical model that helps leaders sustain change and make results stick in fast-paced, interrupt-driven companies. People get interrupted frequently in the course of a day. This is the norm. ITM Coaching™ works because managers leverage the learning opportunities that present themselves and interrupt people to give feedback. Managers are leveraging a system that already exists. An effective leader looks for opportunities to coach “anytime, anywhere.” This perspective flies in the face of the typical manager who says, “I just don’t have enough time to coach.”

ITM Coaching™ is a simple, yet powerful approach. The skills associated with the approach form a user-friendly acronym: RAR.

Rapport – Get into behavioral rapport quickly

Assess – Understand the situation

Re-frame – Help others solve the problem with a new insight or action

As simple as these three steps may sound, usually one of the steps is left out. Here are three examples of the same scenario in which one of the crucial steps of RAR is missing. Also included is the impact to the situation and possible remedies using RAR.

Scenario: An individual is in the middle of a crisis situation and runs to his/her boss to get coached on how to solve the issue.

Situation missing “Rapport”: Despite the explicit contract the boss has to coach the individual on business issues, it does not appear on the surface that the boss cares about the issue because he is distracted by his email. Remedy: Relationships are built over time; behavioral rapport must take place at any given moment and in every conversation. The boss needs to not only make eye contact, he needs to match the direct report’s body language. For example, if the direct report is sitting down and leaning back in his chair, then the coach should do the same. This will signal to the direct report that the coach is truly “with” him/her.

Situation missing “Assess”: The boss doesn’t fully understand the situation and jumps in immediately to tell the individual what to do and is off target on a couple of attempts. Remedy: To effectively assess, the coach must slow down to listen and ask relevant questions. Once the coach fully understands the situation, then it’s appropriate to offer a relevant response.

Situation missing “Re-frame”: The boss asks lots of questions but doesn’t close the conversation and allow the opportunity for the direct report to take a next action step. And, in the end, the conversation takes longer than necessary. Remedy: It is important to get to the “gem” that is going to help the direct report re-frame the problem. A “re-frame” is a new way of thinking about an issue that leads a direct report to a new action, behavior, or perspective about the situation. The direct report must walk away with a “distinction” — something tangible that they can do differently.

With the hectic and fast-paced nature of organizations, we find the simplicity of the ITM Coaching™ model something that managers can easily refer to and practice. Leaving out any one of the 3 crucial steps will significantly minimize the investment already made in having the conversation in the first place. By remembering to incorporate all three practices, you are increasing the likelihood of success and return on your time and energy invested.

For more information about ITM Coaching™ and to register for our October workshop, visit our website.