One-on-on conversations

If leaderhip is the the art of convening conversations that might not happen  otherwise. Then the art of conversations is a critical skill to master. Of the past few weeks, where I have found articles on conversations or coaching, I have bookmarked them to be re-read. I miss the opportunity to discuss these types of topics with Ben Bond and Paul Blake during our hourly commute; I do not miss the hourly commute.

One-on-one positive coaching conversations

When you know what’s next, you can prepare and perform. Structure provides predictability. Predictability enables preparation. Preparation raises confidence. Confidence is energy. Or something along those lines. Bearing in mind that conversations are complex situations and predictable only to a point.

As a headteacher, those one-on-one conversations are critical.  Critical as they are often reserved for senior staff and are therefore big-stone-in-the-middle-of-the-pond moments, ripplng out into the organisation. Critical due to their sparity, as dedicate headteacher-time is a sparse commodity and therefore high-value to the colleague. Here are my reflections on how to make the most of them as based on Dan Rockwell’s post and encouragement to amend and take forward.

#1. Provide and encourage positive reflectivity.

  1. What one result from last week makes you proud?
  2. Tell me the one thing you did really well last week.
  3. What one thing worked well for you last week?

#2. Provide ‘go with’ feedback.

Avoid the temptation to improve on someone’s positivity contribution. Rather fill their sails with wind by honoring effort and achievement. Tell them what you see.

  1. I could see from your planning you have clearly given the questioning a lot of detailed thought. The students clearly benefitted from the extra “think” time.
  2. Yes, I noticed you feeding back to parents. I am sure they would have appreciated it.
  3. I saw you practicing your coaching questions. Seeing you putting this into practice is great.

#3. Pursue better.

What one thing would you like to do different or better?

The pursuit of ‘better’ is a good thing. Don’t let it feel negative. You can show this be committing to improve your performance too or committing a schedule time to follow up on this aspect of their performance. We’re all rowing in the same boat.

#4. Respond and confirm.

  1. You’re right. I see what you’re saying. I agree.
  2. What are some options for making this better?
  3. Which of your strengths might help you improve in this area?
  4. How does developing this aspect of your work, help you reach larger personal goals?

#5. Agree and prioritise.

Agree on one action item. The priority and key action you intend to return too.

  1. Which option would you like to try? How? How often? In what setting?
  2. If I saw you executing on your strategy, what would I see you doing?
  3. Nudge them to reach higher (when appropriate.) How might you take this to the next level?
  4. What would you like me to ask you next time?

Who else would be interested in having a conversation about this? Why don’t we invite them along? Patricia Shaw

Reading the comments of the original post, one suggestion to make these conversations even more efficient was to ask colleagues to forward their answers to the #1 in advance.

Looking forward to discussing these reflections with Bond and Blake.

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