Here at the-Coaching Blog-run by Gerard O’Donovan, our aim is to constantly bring value to those seeking to improve their lives. Therefore we have a policy of publishing articles and materials by guest authors whom we value and appreciate. Today’s guest author is Tina Leigh McDonald (UK).

With the coaching world becoming saturated with coaches and the journey to becoming a coach being very different with online coaches and coaches training new coaches, it can be hard to know what to use and what tools are actually out there. Some coaches have had no real experience, no qualification, remember in the UK and other places, there’s no requirement or regulation for being qualified.

People are calling themselves coaches because they help other people achieve goals or meet targets and yes coaching is all about helping other people to see their true potential, many and I say many, not all, are not actually familiar with real coaching techniques and often I see coaches who are actually mentors. They will be able to offer support, guidance and advice and many of them are actually pretty good at what they do, some are amazing, great leaders. I have also met many ‘qualified’ coaches who are questionable, they have no real idea of what they are doing and generally they don’t stick around for long, so I’m not suggesting being qualified defines a good/bad coach, but when you work through the qualification process you are exposed to lots of different tools and techniques to help you find your favourite tools.

Now I am not dissing the GROW model, it’s not my favourite I have to say, but it is often the only one people know and there are lots more you can use, OSCAR, FUEL, The Rule of Three, 3D model, Peak Moments, Jelly Babies Tree, Wheel of life/work and so many more the list goes on, however if you use any search engine to look for tools you will find yourself with GROW (and more recently FUEL) and pretty much nothing else. If you look for Leadership models, then yes, you will find a whole host of other options that can be developed into coaching tools, but coaching tools are limited and so many come and go.

I want to show you some tools that can be used when coaching in business, that allows you to explore different personalities, learning styles, remember when we coach we often find that the person we are coaching can find it difficult because they don’t yet know what they need either.

A great business tool to use because most managers/leaders or entrepreneurs will already understand them are  mind maps. Mind maps are a great tool to use when the coachee has no idea where to start, I often use this when we are looking at changes in jobs, progression, development, promotions or changes in career completely. Get the Coachee to write down, ‘change role’ or whatever the change is and then branching from that all the things they need to consider for that change, things like family, qualifications, experience, finances and then start to build what they already know is needed, this might be a change in size of home to downsize or move completely, it might be to gain 5 years experience. You can then branch from each of those points to consider what they already have and what they need, what they are happy with and what scares them, what will be easy to deliver or get and what will create hurdles. This gives you a talking point for your next few sessions. You can start to draw out each of the topics and create goals around those, understanding of the changes that will be required and who will be impacted.

Another tool that I love to use it the Peak Moments tool, so this is a quick and simple tool to pull out when someone is stuck on why they are unhappy in a certain area, maybe they have conflict at work or are unable to get over a bad experience at work. The Peak Moments Tools is a zigzag line that peaks in 3 places, you get the coachee to think about three times they felt truly happy or settled in a situation, if you are focused on work here, then you want three occasions where they felt happy at work and you then get them to write those three moments down at the peaks, along side those moments in the inside of the ‘peaks’ you get them to write down what was it about those moments that made them memorable or special. Get them to consider the time of year, people who were with them, what was it about those moments that was so great and then your questions begin around how they can transfer those moments to now. How the things that made that moment so special can be dragged through to now and create a better alignment with what they are struggling with right now.

Another quick model to use if you are working with a coachee and you are limited on time, often speed coaching can be 30 minutes and you can’t really sit and debate the Jelly Baby Tree in 30 minutes, so the one you can use here is the 3D model, Diagnose, Design, Do. Simply put, you ‘diagnose’ the issue right now, what is the biggest problem ‘right now’ then you ‘design’ what it needs to look like to not be an issue, how it would look if there was no issue (or less of an issue), lastly, simply get them to commit to doing it.

One of my favourite tools for coaching when you are out and about, this was a great coffee machine tool or a ‘pick your brains’ question that became a quick coaching session. Use the Rule of Three model, so get them to think about and tell you three things about the issue, facts not feelings, then they need to consider three consequences to the issue and lastly but most important, three things they could do about it. This tool is all about accountability and generally is best used when the issue is a little more known. If someone says they are losing money at work or are being overlooked for promotion or was given feedback that they are finding it hard to accept, or any general work issues, then this tool works perfectly.

If you are working with someone who knows they are unhappy or failing, but has no idea where to start, then your coaching style is going to need to be more probing and that’s when you should rely on the wheel of life, GROW/OSCAR/FUEL, etc.

Or create your own, coaching tools are predominately questions about what the issue is, what’s getting in your way, what it could look like and what you should do next, if you’re great with words and you can link 3, 4 or 5 words so they create a memorable word then you have yourself an awesome new coaching tool to share with the world, mine was CIGAR.

Create an understanding of the issue

Instigate commitment to change it

Gather evidence

Assess the benefits

Release the limiting beliefs.

Sticking to one tool because you like it and find it comfortable is like anything in life, it gets worn out and becomes broken down. Keeping a few tricks to pull out the bag to excite, ignite and really push your coachee, it can be great for them but it will be empowering and wonderful to you too.

Let’s face it, if you get the Jelly Baby Tree out and some crayons, most people are intrigued, are they not?


Tina McDonald
Tina McDonald

Tina supports businesses by training leadership and soft skills training, time management, and presentation skills. She also visits schools and provides career coaching and support to their year 12 & 13 year olds to help them make informed choices when leaving school.

Tina is an optimistic person who sees the good in just about everything and can usually be trusted to find something positive in every situation.






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