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Coaching examples

In the last year, the Climate Action Team has been behind several OIT initiatives, such as mentoring and co-coaching programs. A major challenge that supervisors face is that they haven't done much (if any) coaching.

As part of the Climate Action Team, I've shared documentation and other information about how to do coaching - but if you haven't coached before, you may struggle because you don't know what coaching "looks like." I'd like to show good coaching in action.

I have previously talked about Tim Gunn as coach on the show "Project Runway." In the program, budding fashion designers compete to create the best outfit each week, usually over an incredibly tight deadline.

I'm not very interested in fashion, but what draws me to this show is one of the anchors: Tim Gunn. Tim acts as a kind of style mentor, and meets with each designer for a brief coaching session midway through each design challenge. I think Tim makes for an excellent example in coaching.

If you would like to see Tim's coaching in action, I've selected 3 good examples.

Start by visiting the Tim Gunn's Workroom (season 6) video site. Scroll down the page to see clips from each episode - you may need to click the arrows to see all the clips in each episode.

The 3 designers I think would make for good coaching examples are:

  1. Episode 5 - Johnny Sakalis
  2. Episode 1 - Ari fish
  3. Episode 4 - Qristyl Frazier

I picked these because they demonstrate: open-ended questions, probing questions, confidence, encouragement, recognition, understanding ... while avoiding saying "I'd do this". In the end, the "coachee" makes all the decisions.

In particular, I like Johnny's example, as Tim helps him to see his garment from a fresh perspective.

Of course, successful coaching requires participation on both sides. Watch some of the other clips, and you may see some designers who are disengaged from the coaching process - they don't listen to feedback, and they remain fixed in their opinions. The coach's job is to help the other person to reach their own conclusions or to see things in a new light, but if the "coachee" is unwilling to listen, the coaching session will be a waste of time.