One of the biggest demands on my time is people. That is, I spend most of my time listening and coaching people to focus on the right things, helping them realise that they are fixating on the wrong things, and helping them to learn and develop.
And I'm not complaining about the time I spend with people. That's a good thing; I learn more when I'm with people than I do when I'm on my own. People are fascinating and interesting. And that's the problem some times, the fascination is enticing, people suck you in to their worlds, which are rarely the truth, instead a version of the truth that is distorted by their fundamental beliefs, past history, energy levels, you name it. And when you are in their world, it's difficult to help them see the truth for what it really is, isn't it?
So I've spent many years developing my skills in this area to maximise the impact of my face time with people. Listen to their problem, help them to understand the underlying assumptions that limit their options, and give them the focus and energy to move forward, learn about themselves and be more effective for the experience. And I'm pretty good at it too.
But there is always room for improvement. And if you spend most of your time with people, then a small hack in this area will have a massive impact on the effectiveness of your waking hours, right?
A new book The Five Minute Coach, aims to help you with that. Lynne Cooper and Mariette Castellino are business coaches who have distilled the process of coaching people down in to a fairly prescriptive framework. Using a blend of clean language, neuro-linguistic programming and symbolic modelling, It's designed to quickly get to the root of the problem, using framing questions around the specific words spoken by the coachee, to open up the coachee's options in terms of time frame, context and necessity.
The process itself comprises of five steps, from establishing the specific outcome, elicitation of specifics, action planning to final motivation, and whilst extremely prescriptive, it is definitely an effective way to maximise the impact you have with someone in a very short period of time. It doesn't have the flexibility of a broader system (I'm a big fan of Robert Dilts' Sleight of Mouth), but that isn't the point here. Of course if you are having daily 5 minute coaching sessions with someone, then perhaps you need to open the bonnet and deal with some deeper issues, which require a more flexible skill set.
If you've not explored coaching concepts or have experience in those kind of conversations, then the questions may seem quite alien to you, in which case I'd suggest starting with something like Joseph O'Connor's Coaching with NLP, and practice that before moving to this. However this book does have plenty of guides and practice for those of you who want to jump straight in, and a simple to use template that keeps you on track.
In summary, the technique in this book is an invaluable time hack if you are dealing with people regularly. An hour's read through the book should be enough to get you started. Print out the structure and find some guinea pigs, and as always, please let me know how you get on.