January 2, 2017
Coaching at Scale
Situational Workshops (SWs) are Next Jump’s program for coaching at scale. They enable us to develop leaders at all levels in our organization – from our senior strategy group, to the newest hire out of college.
Coaching traditionally looks like this:
- Focused only on top 5% – “high potentials” and “elite performers”
- Occurs as a special event (usually as off-site conferences, intense 1-week training, etc.)
- Disjointed/removed from the reality of day-to-day. More focused on theories and principles without applicability to real situations
- Doesn’t feel scalable – it feels impossible to coach everyone
Implementing Situation Workshops:
- Made it possible to coach and develop leaders at all levels of the organization, without disproportionate resource allocation from senior leadership
- Coaching occurs as a consistent and regular part of your work cycle
- Rooted in real situations that an employee experiences
Under stress, our judgement is tested. What we have found is that there is a recognizable pattern to our decision-making, and it is most tested under stress. Through Situational Workshops, we help individuals identify patterns in their judgement (in both culture and revenue) and help them develop stronger judgement and decision making.
Coaching the person, not the outcome
The situational workshop is intentionally set up to coach the individual, not the outcome. We do this in two ways:
- It is a reflection on a situation that has already passed. By removing the “outcome” as the focus, it places the emphasis on helping the individual and understanding the decisions they made to get there. SW is not where you come to ask for advice on an upcoming tough choice. (That’s a separate discussion to have with your TP and direct manager).
- Coaches are not your direct managers. Direct managers care about outcome (as they should!). But if you care about outcome too much, the coach will lose objectivity in trying to help the individual more than the outcome.
How it Works
Our CEOs coach four people every other week. These four consist of two “talking partner” (TP) pairs. Those pairs then coach another group of four the following week (and on down). Those who receive coaching are called to help coach others.
Role of Participants:
- Bring the most stressful/challenging situation you found yourself in the last week. What action did you take? How did you arrive at the decision to take that action.
Role of Coaches:
- Listen to the situation. Coach on what different options that person might have been available. As you get to know the individual more, you will start to see patterns in their judgement making.
- Under stress, where does their judgement fail. What are the patterns? Start recognizing those and help coach the person to become aware of these patterns and train themselves to exercise better judgement in the future.
What happens after?
- Participants are asked to write notes on what resonated with them from the coaching. They share it with everyone in the SW. We have found that the act of reflecting on your coaching helps the individual apply it better. It also provides an opportunity to ask for any clarification or additional question from the coach. For the coaches, it’s helpful to hear back what the participant found helpful (and what they did not).
- The participants are then responsible to run a Situational Workshop for two other pairs.
Observations from our Navy Fellow (LT Kyle Wagner is on a year-long fellowship from the US Navy):
Situational Workshops are sessions focused on training the judgement of the individual, not an outcome. Two senior personnel coach four to six junior personnel who do not directly report into them. Each member presents a situation that did not have a favorable outcome or one that member struggled with and each talk through their thought process and how they arrived at their decision. The coaches help identify error patterns and provide perspective on miss decisions, developing stronger future decision making. Finally, each member for the SW reflects on their notes and email their takeaways to the group.
Situational Workshops are conducted in groups for two main reasons: often people struggle with similar situations and hearing feedback another’s situation is helpful and promotes the sense of not being alone. Secondly, it makes SWs scalable. For example, a potential ship structure: The commanding officer and executive officer hold a SW for their department heads who in return use their coaching to coach division officers. A parallel structure can be ran in the Chiefs’ Mess and eventually through the entire command.