The Five-Minute Coach

Improve performance – rapidly

By: Mariette Castellino , Lynne Cooper


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 234x156mm
Pages : 240
ISBN : 9781845908003
Format: Paperback
Published: March 2012

The Five-Minute Coach offers a simple, step by step guide on how to coach quickly and effortlessly to get amazingly better results at work. Short, punchy and easy to read, the user can swiftly learn this innovative and effective tool for improving performance.

Designed for leaders, managers and supervisors in any setting, The Five-Minute Coach is a ground-breaking approach to coaching on the job. It creates significant performance improvements, whilst improving job satisfaction for manager and team member alike. This approach to coaching has been developed by the authors and used in organisations across the board large and small, private and public, with adults and teens, and across a variety of voluntary and community groups. Professional coaches have also adopted The Five-Minute Coach in their work.

The book leads the reader through this deceptively simple process which changes thinking about how to work with others. Leaders no longer need to have all the answers. They benefit from true delegation. They uncover the talent and resources of others. They free up time for themselves - time to think strategically and to be more proactive, creative and innovative.

With its focus on outcome-thinking, effective action planning and motivating people to take action, the book offers clear steps, practical examples and tips. It all adds up to a very practical way to improve performance.

Picture for author Mariette Castellino

Mariette Castellino

Mariette Castellino is a coach, team coach and facilitator in the public, private and voluntary sectors. She has an MA in Management Learning and is one of the pioneers of the application of Clean Language and Symbolic Modelling in organisations. She co-developed The Five-Minute Coach and is currently using it to facilitate new thinking in businesses as well as all kinds of communities.

Picture for author Lynne Cooper

Lynne Cooper

Lynne Cooper is an accredited coach and coaching supervisor who works with individuals, teams and organisations to transform performance. Lynne is one of the pioneers of the application of Clean Language in organisations to achieve sustainable change. She is Managing Partner of Change Perspectives Partnership and the former UK Vice Chair at the Association for Coaching.Lynne co-developed the Five-Minute Coach, a tool for busy managers to create improved results and trains leaders and coaches in Five-Minute Coach skills. She is also the author of Business NLP for Dummies.


  1. 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.
  2. The intended primary audience of this book are leaders, managers and supervisors. Its aim is to keep coaching simple and structured by following a five-step framework for delivering a coaching session. It is well put together and clearly written, with useful visual symbols indicating points for a -˜pause for thought' - a learning opportunity for the coach on the issues it is discussing, The structure is logical and clearly structured, with case studies and examples of the approaches it describes. It explains that the tools and techniques it offers can be adopted as a sole coaching method or as an -˜add on' to existing skill sets.

    A strong element of the book is the use of future-focused language when questioning clients in terms of what it will be like for them once their goal has been achieved. This could be useful in helping the coachee take ownership of his/her progress towards a resourceful outcome,

    The final part of the book provides a full section on dealing with the unexpected and troubleshooting within sessions, which could give confidence to the aspirant coach,

    However, there are times when the process comes across as rather robotic, with little emphasis on the client's needs and more importance given to asking the right questions in a timely manner and making sure to follow the suggested structure.

    In following the suggested five stages, there is a danger that the coach could become more concerned with being -˜correct' rather than with helping the client move forward in the best way for them, This could dilute the coaching experience and not produce the best result that the book tries so hard to achieve.
    It is also true that, within coaching conversations, regardless of content or topics being discussed, there will be a time when the client has an emotional response, In order to provide a supportive space for growth, there needs to be a sense of connection. This will allow rapport to be built and maintained through the coaching interaction, This, and the impact of this on clients, is not adequately covered or acknowledged - a real weakness in the book.

    Deliberately not using eye contact, repeating the same questions in such a formulaic way and not engaging in key developmental areas that surface within the session may not be the best way to fully engage the coachee, and may not help build congruency and authenticity within the coaching relationship.
    It is true to say that in corporate settings there can be a time pressure with tight deadlines and goals to be achieved, At times, and all too often, there is also inadequate focus on developing motivated team members and ensuring that they feel valued and supported. Simply creating action plans and goals without exploring further with the coachee why they are not achieving what they need may not always help move people forward.

    Does the Five-Minute Coach deliver what it has set out to do? In a word, yes, Is this enough in today's marketplace and with clients' ever more complex career paths that are interwoven with negative behavioural patterns and blocks in their own work performance? No.

    The main weakness of the book is that people are emotional beings and this has seemingly been overlooked by the black and white, static approach to coaching described here.
  3. 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 “a 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.
  4. As a pragmatist who likes to read a business book and apply the knowledge immediately, I found that The Five Minute Coach delivers what it promises: a rapid way to increase performance. I'm also a fan of de-mystifying the art of coaching to spread the benefits far and wide through society.

    While already familiar with Clean Language coaching, the unexpected bonus came in seeing how the book makes the concepts of Clean Language accessible to the newcomer to coaching as well as experienced coaches. By comparison, many books on the topic leave the reader feeling that Clean Language is complex and academic and not appropriate with every client. My copy is bookmarked at the one page -˜crib sheet.'

    This book is valuable for the keen manager to learn some basics of Clean Language coaching and get started very quickly with willing participants. As an experienced coach, I have found it useful to play with the framework for some speedy coaching with willing participants.

    It offers a crystal clear five stage coaching framework in the first chapter and then unpacks this framework in more detail through the subsequent chapters. The explanations are supported by tips, stories and troubleshooting guidance. In particular, the authors offer step by step guidance on how to set up the session (what coaches refer to as contracting) so that the client knows what to expect with the particular style of questioning.

    In the Coaching in Action chapter, the authors give a transcript of the coaching process together with a running commentary of what might be happening -˜inside the coach's head.' In this way they give extra insight into the split second decisions the coach makes as she frames the next Clean Language question.

    Sometimes the simplest tips remain with you after reading a book of this kind. Back in Chapter 1, we are reminded of the power of the two little words -˜and' and -˜when' with examples of how starting a response with these two words will have a very different impact to beginning a response with the words -˜if' or -˜so'. The lesson is that opening a question with the words -˜And when' is a much more supportive start to keep the coachees' thoughts flowing without any implied judgement on the part of the coach.

    For example when I say to a coachee: -˜And when you find the job of your dreams, then what happens?' will evoke a different and more empowering reaction to -˜So if you find the job of your dreams, then what happens?'

    This book is definitely a welcome addition to my coaching library that earns its place on the overcrowded shelves.

  5. For those who are new to this coaching field the book is an excellent practical introduction and guide-book. Experienced coaches will not wish to jettison their current approach, but will appreciate and possibly employ some of the structured questions or techniques.

    Thoughtful practitioners may wish to reflect about the appropriateness of the underlying principles and pre-suppositions before accepting the whole package or applying aspects of this coaching procedure.

    I was left thinking about which particular situations it would be appropriate to employ aspects of this coaching approach in my own sphere of educational practice in mentoring trainee teachers in schools, in management, as a tutor and research supervisor in higher education, and in wider -˜helping roles' . The work deserves wide circulation among people in a range of walks of life.
  6. Excellent! Another book I wish I'd written!

    If you want step-by-step instructions for using Clean Language in a business coaching context, this is the book for you -” whether your role officially includes coaching or not. 

    The Five-Minute Coach`model emerged from years of real-world, practical experience.

    Lynne Cooper and Mariette Castellino have taught hundreds of people to use their model over the years -” and it shows. The book is full of practical examples, and session transcripts set in the office life you may know and-¦ well, choose your own preference .

    I escaped from office life a good few years ago, and I never had coaching as a formal part of my role. But I can still imagine how useful this book would have been to me -” when I was a managing a team for the first time; when I started handling larger “performance issues”; when I was doing staff appraisals and follow-ups; when I was managing my boss.

    It would have made my life so much easier -” people would have taken more responsibility for their own work and we'd have all got much more work done.
    (By the way, did I ever tell the story of how I had to carry out staff appraisals in Santa's Grotto? But that's another story.)

    Lynne and Mariette have written a straightforward how-to guide: clear, practical, effective.

    Of course, the book is not for everyone. If you're the kind of person who likes to take a more free-form approach, you might well be annoyed by the relative rigidity of the structure. You might also feel that it misses one of the most valuable parts of Clean Language -” the wealth of insight that comes from experiencing your metaphoric landscape in a waking trance.

    But for most, I think it will work well -” not least because the Five-Minute Coach model gives you something to vary from.
  7. The Five-Minute Coach is an excellent introduction to the principles and use of Clean Language. I have been coaching for many years and have known a little about Clean Language, but not enough to feel confident to use it. This book has been immediately useful to me because Chapter 1 gets stuck straight away into a step by step -˜how to' guide, which is perfect for a Clean Language beginner like me. Even better than this, it really does only take 5 minutes to prepare to use the process and then 5 minutes to actually -˜do the coaching'. It's not often that you can read a book and get started on the techniques when you're only half way through Chapter 1, but this is refreshingly the case with The Five-Minute Coach. The rest of the book expands upon the coaching skills and personal attributes of the coach that will add depth and power to the technique itself, with stories and case studies along the way to support the authors' findings and thoughts. I can't wait to receive my copy of this book as I will definitely be recommending it to all those I work with to develop and enhance their coaching skills.
  8. Quite simply the best coaching book I've ever read. 

    In spite of being extremely busy with some major projects at present, I read it from cover to cover. It gives a simple exposition of the process, explaining ideas and techniques that are easy to apply and work extremely well.

    I find myself using the ideas set out in this book, not only with the people in my team, but also with colleagues across the company (and with my kids at home, too). I will be recommending this book to both friends and colleagues.
  9. The Five-Minute Coach sets out a technique that focuses on desired outcomes and that has relevance well beyond individual coaching. Lynne and Mariette show how a simple approach, that is fully independent of the coach's personal opinions or knowledge, can enable insights and solutions to emerge. Presented in a refreshingly clear and easily digestible format, the book contains a wealth of practical tips and case studies that guide the reader through. A useful addition to the armoury of any coach -” from the manager of a team of staff to the parent of teenagers.
  10. A very clear, easy-to-read book - both in terms of language and layout - and with a good balance between the theoretical and the practical. The examples, tips and troubleshooting really work to make it user-friendly - so a big 'thumbs up' from me!

  11. This book should be on every busy manager's desk. It introduces us to a technique of coaching that's tailored for busy people who need to get results swiftly. Coaching is fundamentally a non-directive technique empowering people to make their own choices. Many managers find coaching to be an effective way of managing staff but can be put off from using it because it can take too long. With this helpful book, that problem is solved. Now managers can learn a quick and easy procedure to help them support their staff, solve problems, achieve outcomes and stimulate creativity. And you get the best of all worlds - not just a happy workforce but a more productive one.

    The Five-Minute Coach is based around two central tenets -” delegating, so that problems end up with their rightful owners, and revolutionising thinking, so that a manager focuses on outcomes rather than the problem. Five core principles underlie The Five-Minute Coach: stick with the process; the coachee has all the answers; ownership is with the coachee; the manager drives the coaching; and the manager creates and manages the setting. 

    The chapters in the book are helpfully organised, using a series of structured questions. Chapters 1 and 2 describe the Five-Minute Coach approach and what you need to do to get started. Chapters 3-”7, the key chapters, lead you through the five stages of the process. To learn the coaching approach you'll need to read them in order -” at least initially.

    You'll find tips, advice on troubleshooting and practical activities to help you develop your skills, complete with stories from the authors' own experience. Chapters 8 and 9 contain useful guidance on how to handle unexpected responses when coaching. The last chapter includes a list of resources to take your journey of discovery further. 

    Crucially, the book reminds us that a manager as coach is there to facilitate others to accomplish things in their own way; as opposed to the traditional sense of a manager as the leader, defining others' goals, specifying their activity and making them accountable.
    A very welcome addition to the library of self-help books for managers.
  12. I found it easy to read and the book has a good structure. It leads a person through the topic very logically and with high quality and real life examples. I genuinely believe that this book has the potential to become a “must read” for leaders at all levels, across all sectors. The way the topic is handled has really made me relook at the way I coach members of my team and it reinforced lots of lessons I had already experienced, but had forgotten or given less priority to.

    Having had the experience and benefit of being coached by one of the authors, and now having read the book, this is exactly how she does it and it really does work. The changes I managed to implement post coaching in this style underline the effectiveness of it. It will be out on our suggested reading list for our leaders within Hand Picked Hotels.

  13. A well written and structured book. I started off thinking -˜this isn't for me' because I couldn't imagine myself a) carrying out many formal coaching sessions and b) being able use a -˜clean' approach as the temptation is to jump in with advice and -˜words of wisdom'! But I have to say, I found much in the book to be extremely useful, and I can see plenty of situations in both my business and private life where applying the approaches set out in this book in an informal way could yield much better results than more traditional methods.

    I particularly like all the -˜Five-Minute conversations' which give some great examples of how the framework can be used in other situations.
    It's a great piece of work and I'll certainly be obtaining a few copies once published to share with some of my colleagues.
  14. Although coaching is not an approach I currently use, reading The Five-Minute Coach demonstrates clearly how this style of supporting and developing people results in positive change.

    Lynne and Mariette's writing quickly establishes the use of Clean Language and clear structures in an easy to follow style. In fact, I am already reflecting on the questions they use as I participate in meetings at work, whether they are with children, parents or colleagues. A refreshing and empowering read, I hope to find someone who would coach me using The Five-Minute Coach.
  15. The temptation to just do it yourself rather than help a team member to learn how to do something is very real for busy managers. The Five-Minute Coach leaves you with no excuse for doing that. It takes the reader through a helpfully structured approach and offers both effective tools and really useful tips along the way.

    Reading this book made me think hard about the way I manage my own staff and reappraise my approach. Its clarity about how to make a real difference through effective coaching makes it a valuable addition to any manager's briefcase.
  16. Clean Language is a greatly under-rated technique for coaches and here it's explained in a really easy and helpful way.

    Anyone who is looking for an easy to remember, structured approach to improving outcomes in their work life, or as a coach, should definitely have this book on their shelf/e-reader.
  17. Once you have got your head around the concept of Clean Language The Five-Minute Coach is an essential approach for busy managers and internal coaches who need to make a difference fast. With a little preparation and background reading, the approach can be deployed quickly and effectively in many operational management situations. I particularly liked the way the technique focused on getting the individual to really focus on their own interference and how to unblock it without the coach getting in the way.

    The Five-Minute Coach book is full of helpful advice and guidance. I particularly liked the use of case studies, exercises and simple templates to bring Five-Minute coaching to life. As a professional coach, it will certainly be a technique I'll be using personally and sharing with coaching and business colleagues alike.
  18. I found The Five Minute Coach an original, simple, yet highly effective approach to achieving change at an individual level or within a group, and in diverse situations. It shows how some very small changes in the coach's language can effect a big change; it makes the power of coaching accessible to all, with clear outcome and action focussed processes and questions.

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