Coaching can have a range of different meanings, depending on context. To hijack a neat definition given within these pages of what coaching is: it is facilitating others to accomplish things in their own way. Within that definition it can, for instance, mean giving a student extra tuition in order to pass an exam, or offering someone feedback and advice to help them to perfect a very specific skill or routine in preparation for a one-off performance; or it can mean implementing a preordained strategy to help a person look within to find the answers to external problems. The Five-Minute Coach is in the latter category. It is a coaching method that can be used by managers to help other members of staff take ownership of issues and deal with them. It is, however, important to make the distinction between coaching staff, and leading or directing them.
Why Five-Minute? Well, because managers, team leaders, supervisors and others who are tasked with leading staff and helping them improve their performance, have too many demands on their time to set aside large chunks of the day for one-to-one coaching sessions; as the introduction puts it, this is -œa technique of coaching that's ideal for busy people who need to get results quickly-.
So, what does The Five-Minute Coach method entail? If I've understood correctly, it basically consists of the coach asking a sequence of simple questions designed to achieve a progression in the coachee's thoughts. The coach must not deviate from the prescribed questions or methodology, and the coachee must limit his input to responding directly to the question. Each question builds on the previous one, so that the coachee is constantly reminded of the point his thought-process has already reached, and encouraged to move on one step further. And, as you'll have guessed, each session should last no longer than five minutes.
That, unless I've misunderstood, is the essence. There are different sets of questions to meet the needs of different situations -” the principles and methodology remain the same, but the wording is changed very slightly to guide the coachee's thoughts in a different direction.
In case this all sounds rather airey-fairey, I should add that the book does provides plenty of guidance and explanation to ensure that the coach understands why the system is designed in this way as well as what it can achieve and how to put it into practice. There are sample transcripts, and there is even a -˜troubleshooting' section telling you how to get back on track if the coachee fails to give the expected responses.
It seems to me that if you read this book carefully, implementing The Five-Minute Coach strategy should be within most managers' competence even if they don't have formal coaching training; you need the ability to understand and follow instructions, along with a reasonable level of communication skills -” both of which any manager will already possess. And for those already involved in coaching, this could be another tactic to add to your repertoire.