Why all Managers need to know how to Coach?

Why all Managers need to know how to Coach?

Take a moment to consider how Managers are created. The most common way for someone to move into management is to get promoted because they are good at the job.

For example, you are a good salesperson, engineer, scientist, shop assistant etc so you get promoted. You may or may not have good people skills, you may or may not know how to manage, motivate or coach your team.

If this was your pathway do you sometimes feel out of your depth? It can sometimes feel overwhelming for managers who are suddenly expected to know how to do a whole range of people managing tasks overnight.

People leave managers not jobs so not being able to manage people often results in higher staff turnover and an increase in gripes. No one wants to have to deal with that.

Learning how to Coach will give you the skills to do all of the necessary skills and puts you on track to developing a high performing team. In addition you will gain so many unexpected bonus gifts. By learning to Coach you will gain some important insight into your own motivations and communication gaps. This is great for your long term goals in your career and will improve your personal and family relationships too.

If you are a manager and you take control of your own development you will see results. If you would like to find out more about how to gain this important skill set contact me for a chat.

Have you assessed your stressors and your self-care practice?

Finding your inner sure of well being

Have you assessed your stressors and your self-care practice?

(NB I will be writing about self-care in parallel with my posts about Coaching for a few weeks. As Coaches are you role modelling good self-care? If not this will be for you too. Even if you are there will be some ideas you can share with your clients in this thread).

In order to know how you are doing you need to give yourself a baseline. It is time to get real with yourself. Make a list of the stressors (things that stress you) and another list of the things you are doing to take care of yourself.


This will allow you to spot where the gaps in your self-care might be.


When I did this for myself I noticed some interesting little cycles that I kinda knew about but wasn’t being real about.


My weight has been steadily going up since about 2019 for various reasons including other stressors. I then worry about it and comfort eat!


I am going to offer myself as a case study so you can do the same for yourself.


So let me get real about this cycle. The increase in my weight correlates with a number of things, some I can control and some I can’t.


Firstly, I am now on a few age-related medications that have a known side effect of increasing weight if I am not really careful.


Secondly, I’ve gone through the same global stressors you have. This caused me to change my lifestyle somewhat. I now mainly teach my courses via Zoom. This means I don’t move as much as I used to when I work.


Thirdly, during this time my Mum’s mental health has declined and I now manage her finances. She is now living with my sister which has considerably reduced my anxiety about her day to day so has lessened this stressor for me (probably increased things for my sister).


I could go on but you get the idea. So I do have some real stressors in my life.


I am doing a few things to take care of myself such as playing with my dogs, getting out in nature and sometimes doing some yoga.


I can see that one thing I need to do is exercise more. I need to walk further rather than just letting my dogs exercise each other. I need to commit to doing my yoga daily. This might put too much pressure on me so for now I will commit to four times a week.


I do need to eat better and that includes seriously reducing my sugar intake. I don’t plan to do any strict diets because I feel that would be unhealthy. I am going to listen to my body more and make better choices.


As I read this back I notice how punishing my language is. I need to be kinder to myself.


Two things I have started doing that feel kinder and will make a big difference have a totally different feel to them. I have started singing again. I love to sing along to favourite tunes in the car. I’d stopped doing that but in the last week or so I have been playing a favourite CD as I drive about. It has lifted my mood. I found myself singing in the garden with the dogs yesterday. Yeah, this is worth doing.


The other thing is to get out with friends more. Joe and I have realised that since 2019 the amount of times we go out with friends has gone down a lot. We both want to socialise more and we committed to reaching out and doing fun things with friends more.


I’ve been sharing with you my stream of thought on this. If you do the same for yourself what are you noticing that you need to pay more attention to?


Where can you be kinder to yourself?


How do you need to nurture yourself better?


How can you have more fun?


I am going to share my ideas with you over the next few weeks. Please do share your thoughts with me including both your challenges and your successes.





How does Coaching work?

Melody Cheal MSc

Have you ever wondered how does Coaching work? Even if you are already a Coach yourself it is worth considering the answer to this simple question.

Let me start by sharing some of my experience of Coaching in the Corporate setting.

Sometimes we provide the Coaches for an inhouse Coaching programme for one of our Corporate Clients and I have noticed something. Some of the people who take up the Coaching offer are not really clear what Coaching is and they may even be suspicious of it. I occasionally have clients who try to “prove” to me that they don’t need any help.

When this happens I often start with a re-set, explaining what Coaching is and some of the tools I might use but this doesn’t explain how Coaching works.

Coaching works on many different levels.

The first is the relationship level and this begins with clear contracting. In Coaching we use the term contract to mean the agreements and boundaries that provide the framework for Coaching.

An important boundary and agreement is about the level of confidentiality within the Coaching sessions. Where an organisation is paying for the bill it is important for the Coach to be clear about what level of confidentiality will exist. It is not automatic that everything within the Coaching session is confidential however for good Coaching there must be transparency. Most organisations understand that allowing the content of the Coaching relationship to remain confidential is important for both trust and effectiveness.

The trusting nature of the Coach/ Coachee relationship can help you with general well-being and self-care even before active Coaching begins. So Coaching works in that it provides you with a place to de-compress and breathe.

Your Coach will give you space to think and act as a sounding board. Often just talking your thoughts through out loud with someone listening and asking clarifying questions can be enough to help you find a solution for yourself. So Coaching works by giving you space to think things through in a supportive atmosphere.

If your thinking is muddled one thing your Coach can offer you is some structure to examine your thoughts more clearly. As you put your thinking into some kind of logical order you will find the answer you are looking for. So Coaching works by providing structure when needed.

Your Coach can also challenge you and give you feedback helping you to gain new perspectives that you may not have found on your own. There are many techniques your Coach can use to help you develop even more perspective. So Coaching works by helping you gain perspective.

I find that sharing models with my clients can be really powerful. I particularly like using Transactional Analysis (TA) and over a number of sessions I will help you build your knowledge of the models. The result is first you will develop greater self-awareness and how to recognise what is making other people tick. Models such as TA can help you manage relationships with people both at work and in your personal life more effectively. So Coaching works by helping you develop new interpersonal skills.

So how does Coaching work? You get to have a safe place to think, reflect, challenge yourself and learn. All of this helps you to live life happier and with more resilience. Coaching works by helping you take charge of your life.

Does that make sense to you? Do you agree? Or do you have other thoughts about how coaching works? I would love to know what you think.

What are Coaching Super Tools?

In my last post I gave some background into the basic tools all Coaches use, this time I want to talk a little about Coaching Super Tools.

You may well wonder what is a Coaching Super Tool? Coaching Super Tools are Advanced approaches to Coaching. Let me expand, all good Coaches will tend to be committed to developing their own skill sets so they have more to offer their clients. This will involve extending their training to become skilled using specific approaches at a more advanced level.

I will mention a few examples today from my own journey, there are many other advanced tools so this is just a sample.

Very early in my career I became interested in understanding more about what makes people tick. This started with me taking a Degree in Psychology but I quickly realised this was not enough. I had a lot of theory but not a lot of practical applications I could use.

This lead me to exploring two major approaches, TA (Transactional Analysis) and NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming).

Transactional Analysis gave me some brilliant tools to help explore and understand behaviour plus some tools to help my clients (and myself) develop more self-awareness and make changes to unhelpful patterns of behaviour. I studied TA for around 6 years to deepen my knowledge.

This allowed me to find applications both within Coaching and when teaching Corporate workshops on anything from assertiveness through to strategic leadership programmes. This included a great models for understanding personality diversity, conflict, working styles, communication and resilience building.

In parallel I started to study NLP eventually becoming both a Trainer and a Master Trainer. This set of tools provided me with some great tools to help clients make significant personal changes often very quickly. Understanding the impact of language on our internal experience was one of the most powerful aspects of this tool and one I often share with clients. The use of visualisation methods really help with things like motivation and success focus. Other models are great for understanding other aspects of motivation and influence.

For me blending the use of TA and NLP allows for some really brilliant transformation for my clients.

The third major tool I added into my regular practice is Core Transformation. I use this gentle and powerful approach to help clients change major life patterns that have been holding them up. I studied this approach right the way through to the Accredited Coach level and then to Trainer level.

I wanted another approach to complement all of this so one major piece was to add in Positive Psychology. I studied for the first Masters Degree offered in Europe (back in 2006). The topics included Emotional Intelligence, Strengths, Resilience, Wisdom and so much more.

As a life-long learner I have also added in tools such as MBTI, IEMT, MBIT and Hypnotherapy.

It is worth remembering that the expertise of the Coach is in understanding human behaviour and a good Coach will be constantly “sharpening the saw” as Steve Covey would say.

A Coach does not need to be an expert in your business, so if you are an engineer or a scientist the Coach will not necessarily understand the technicalities of your world. What the Coach brings is an understanding of what makes people tick, this is their specialty. A Coach with Advanced tools will help you to deepen your self-awareness, make significant personal changes in unwanted patterns and help you interact with others more effectively.

When looking for a Coach look further than checking for a basic Certification. What other tools and approaches is the Coach trained in?

Next time I will explore the application of Coaching and how it works.

What are the skills a Coach uses?

Melody Cheal, Coaching Supervision provider and trainer.When you ask, what are the skills a Coach uses, you might want to bear in mind “how long is a piece of string?”

There are some skills that all good Coaches will use for sure and these may seem quite obvious, such as:

  • Being present the client.
  • Creating a safe space.
  • Building a relationship based on trust and respect.
  • Being a good listener.
  • Asking useful questions.

No matter how obvious they may appear there is more to it even with these few skills. Let me unpack them a little for you.

Being present

When I use the term “being present” I am referring to the Coach’s mental and physical state. Being present means you are fully in the present moment with an external focus the client. This involve putting  on one side any issues, concerns and distractions from your life and putting the focus on the client.

For new Coaches this can be challenging. The challenge can be to let go of your internal critic that may be judging your coaching, or getting caught up in trying to remember a model or a technique. You may need to learn some grounding techniques to practice in the few minutes before your client arrives.

Why is it important to be present? Well this is one of the things that helps your client feel truly listened to and valued. Coaching is a client led activity in that the client sets the agenda in terms of topic. If you are not present you may miss important cues from your client and go off in the wrong direction.

Creating a safe place and building a relationship based on trust and respect

Creating a safe place and building the relationship emerges from being present. A big part of this is “contracting effectively” around confidentiality and boundaries. Contracting refers more to agreements than a legally binding contract. Exploring what is okay and what is not okay for your client and for you helps trust develop.

The second part for me is about the relationship attitude that you bring as the Coach. I like to refer to the Counsellor Carl Rogers for this. He said the single biggest factor in success in the counselling dynamic was the relationship. He talked about the importance of the Counsellor holding an “unconditional, positive regard” for the Client. This is equally important in Coaching.

Unconditional positive regard means that you accept your client as they are and think well of them. You refrain from judgement and allow the client to explore their issues while feeling supported and accepted. This can often be challenging particularly if you have a client that pushes your buttons and is often a topic a Coach may bring to one of my Supervision Groups or to an individual Supervision session.

I share with my Coaches an allied idea developed from Rogers approach by Julie Silverthorn and John Overdurf.  This approach involves you, the Coach holding a positive internal representation of their Client.

Let me unpack that bit of jargon. This refers to how we process information internally. You will hold images, sounds, feelings and even smells and taste in internal representations. You could say these are memories. However often they are more than that. If you think of someone you have worked with or coached recently notice how you represent them in your mind.

Do you see them as capable, valuable and full of potential or do you see them as their problems e.g. if coming to coaching for confidence issues is that how you see them? What is the image you see, how do they sound and what are you feeling about them?

If you hold the latter image it may limit how much you can help your client as the internal images we hold do leak into how we relate to people. If instead you hold an internal image of your client as their potential you are creating a space where that is possible for them. In other words you are believing in them. Learning how to do this is part of our Coaching Diploma. By the way, what internal representation are you holding of yourself? Are you see yourself as the best version of you?

Being a good listener and asking useful questions

When I teach Corporate training courses students often insist that they are good listeners however when they try some simple listening exercises they are often surprised at the results. Listening is one of those things everyone thinks they are good at and often sadly they are not!

As a Coach if you are being present you are half way there. Being present helps you stay more open and able to really listen to the words. However as a Coach you will also be developing Advanced listening skills. You will be picking up on trigger words, linguistic patterns, tonality, emotion and mixed messages. You may even have learnt how to recognise micro expressions.

Developing your listening skills will help you to formulate questions that have value and are useful. Knowing how to ask useful questions is often about really listening and  hearing the client (both what is said and what is not said). There are some questions you can learn that can also help you develop well structured questions that get to the centre of things.

Next time I will expand a little more on some of the alternative tools and their associated skills that are used by many Coaches. Quick disclaimer here, what I share will be a sample because in Coaching the number of tools and theories are ever expanding!

What is Coaching?

What is Coaching?  Here is my definition of Coaching, I wonder if you will agree or have your own version.  Coaching consists of a...What is Coaching?

You may wonder why I am writing such a basic post about “what is coaching?

Well, recently I have noticed that in some of our Corporate contracts, there is some confusion. The people who offered coaching have not really understood what it is.

Some have even thought they were being punished.

In some cases, the “client” has been defensive in sessions and appears to be trying to prove to the Coach that they are good at everything and doesn’t need help. In other cases, the client goes into full-blown download mode treating the session as a sort of therapy session. Finally, in other cases the client has expected the coach to provide instructions about how to deal with work place situations.

So with that in mind I am going to share some definitions and practical guides that will clarify the following:

  • What is Coaching?
  • What are the skills a Coach uses?
  • How does Coaching work?
  • What are the benefits of Coaching?
  • How do you choose a Coach?

What is Coaching?

Here is my definition of Coaching, I wonder if you will agree or have your own version.

Coaching consists of a relationship between the Coach and the Client. The Coach uses approaches and techniques that help the Client move forward in some way, This may include helping the client to:

  • Clarify their own thinking.
  • Set clear goals or aims.
  • Gain a new perspective.
  • Create an action plan.
  • Gain greater self-awareness.
  • Deepen knowledge and understanding of others’ behaviour and motivations.
  • Learn or develop strategies to help the client be more effective in a chosen environment.
  • Unpack challenging situations or conflicts in a safe space.
  • Receive feedback and challenge.
  • Have space to think.
  • To feel supported and valued.

It is also worth identifying what Coaching is not.

  • Coaching is not counselling or therapy.
  • Coaching tends to be future-focused and counselling is not usually appropriate in Coaching.
  • A Coach will not tell you what you should do or give you advice.
  • A Coach may teach you a model to help you deepen self-awareness or develop strategies.
  • They will not become your manager.
  • Your Coach will hold a positive space for you and is non-judgemental and non-biased.
  • Your Coach will help you to develop options, gain perspective and may provide a framework for action plans that you devise yourself.

Coaching provided within Organisations will normally have a confidentiality agreement. This means the Coach will be open with you about what if any information will be shared with your employer. In the most effective agreements, all discussions remain confidential so that trust can build between you and your Coach. The Coach will need to feed back to the Organisation if appointments are missed (particularly if your Coach is an external one). If the Organisation requires more feedback from sessions (and this is rare) a good Coach will be transparent with you about what will be shared.

Next time I will talk more about the type of tools a good Coach may use. Please let me know your thoughts and if you have any questions.

Understanding Drama in the Coaching Room, the theory

So you can have an understanding of Drama in the Coaching Room this week I will lay out the theory in a little more detail.

As already mentioned Transactional Analysis has a great model called the “Drama Triangle” (Karpman 1968) as one way of exploring what Berne described as games.

In Transactional terms, the interaction between people can be viewed almost as a theatrical performance. There are three main roles;

  • Persecutor – when in this role you may have several behaviours such as criticising or even bullying. You may believe you are just giving constructive feedback however the unhealthy nature of the triangle invites the other party or parties to react either defensively or provoke a counterattack.
  • Rescuer – in this role, you may find yourself trying to solve problems for the other person with solutions or suggestions. You may take over and disempower the other person without meaning to. Although motivated by a desire to help this role usually backfires.
  • Victim – when in this role you may feel hard done by and helpless. There can be a sense of other people disrespecting you. You may find it hard to express yourself or set boundaries. You may be just as likely to have a tantrum!


‘Players’ tend to circulate the roles until everyone has had a go at all three. There is always a negative payoff and as with all games the Drama Triangle tends to be out of awareness.


So how do you recognise a game of Drama In The Coaching Room?

We often talk about people playing psychological games with each other and wonder what is going on. A game is described as a repetitive but unsatisfactory interaction with another person or group of people. There are several elements to a game that can alert you to its presence:

  • Repetition – here you go again.
  • Predictability – we may not predict our games but when we see others playing we can predict how it will go.
  • Ulterior transaction – what is on the surface masks what is going on underneath.
  • Switch – where the roles change dramatically.
  • Negative payoff – everyone is left feeling worse even if you think you won to game.
  • Out of awareness – you are not aware of the pattern playing out.

A game may last just a few minutes or go on for much longer. A game can only continue if both parties are willing to “play”. This willingness occurs at an unconscious level.


As a Coach learning to recognise what is going on is key in creating a more positive dynamic with your client and ultimately helping the client to become self-aware too.

Next time I will use an example from the Coaching room to explain what is going on and how you the Coach can step out of the Drama.

If Transactional Analysis is something you would like to explore further do contact me to find out about Transactional Analysis for Coaches (on Zoom) next month, 28th to 29th November.

If you are a Coach and think you might need Supervision contact me directly for details of one-to-one sessions and Supervision Groups.

How Coaches are invited into the Drama and what happens next!

This week I will start by exploring how Coaches are invited into the Drama. So let me clarify what I am talking about.

The models and ideas for this series are drawn from Transactional Analysis.

Following on from last week, Coaches can often find themselves being sucked into their client’s Drama and this is unhelpful. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Case study one:

The Client brings a conflict situation to the Coaching session. On the surface, this is to understand and develop strategies to deal with the problem. In reality, the Client shares their story in such a way that instead of staying neutral the Coach gets sucked in.

Perhaps the story involves a manager bullying the Client and the Coach feels sorry for the Client. The Coach now starts offering solutions to the problem but the Client is reluctant to engage either rejecting the ideas or saying they won’t work. Often the “yes but…” refrain is heard.

Case study two:

In this scenario, the beginning is the same but instead of feeling sorry for the Client the Coach becomes irritated and “sides” with other ‘players’ in the Drama. Perhaps the Coach offers “feedback” or “challenge to the Client that provokes a response of either tears or anger.

Case study three:

Again the beginning is the same but somehow the story twists around and the Client blames the Coach for not helping enough in previous sessions. The Coach feels blamed and shamed.

In all three examples, there is some form of Transference and Counter-transference going on.

In Transference the Client is unconsciously projecting qualities, behaviours, attitudes and feelings onto the Coach that belong to someone from the Client’s past.

Counter-transference is where the Coach is unconsciously projecting their past onto the Client.

The key to transforming this situation is self-awareness and boundaries. For the Coach experiencing this kind of issue, the advice is to seek Supervision to bring the patterns into awareness.

In my next article, I will explain in more detail the model used to explore the type of Case study above, the Drama Triangle. Later next month we will also look at the Winner’s Triangle as a model for self-awareness both for Coach and Client.



If Transactional Analysis is something you would like to explore further do contact me to find out about Transactional Analysis for Coaches (on Zoom) next month, 28th to 29th October 2023. This course is available every year.


If you are a Coach and think you might need Supervision contact me directly for details of one-to-one sessions and Supervision Groups.

Coaches getting sucked into their client’s drama

Why are Coaches getting sucked into their client’s drama? Great question, right?

As a coach, do you get sucked into your client’s drama?

I think I need to start by clarifying what I mean by coaches getting sucked into their client’s drama before we go any further.

Whenever you start having strong feelings about the story the client shares in coaching you need to stop and question yourself. In order to be an effective Coach it can be argued that you need to maintain a certain psychological distance while at the same time having empathy and compassion.

When you start feeling strong feelings there is a good chance some of your own “stuff” has been triggered. In Supervision terms, this could be an example of transference and/or countertransference in play.

There is an excellent model in Transactional Analysis that can be used to understand this dynamic.

Over the next few weeks, I will share with you some background theory on this model plus some case studies followed by how you can step back out of the drama. I will also expand to how you can use this same model to help your clients.

Are you interested in knowing more?

Why is Contracting important in Coaching Cultures?

The importance of Contracting in Coaching Cultures was a topic in this week’s Supervision Group so I thought it might be worth sharing a few thoughts with you today.

Contracting is the foundation of good Coaching, it sets boundaries and agreements about how the Coaching Relationship will progress. For Inhouse Coaches there are added complexities and challenges.

There are two major challenges that need addressing in order to keep Coaching in organisations effective, ethical and positive.

The first challenge is for the Coaches themselves. How many different “hats” do you wear within the organisation. For example, for the Coach who is also an HR Professional and a Manager you could be faced with dilemmas while coaching. What if a “client” reveals an issue that legally cannot be ignored from an HR perspective?

If the potential for such dilemmas are included in Contracting and a process to handle such clashes then the solution is simple. The “client” will already understand the process and why it is there. If the Coach has an understanding of what to do at the point a dilemma is uncovered there is no damage to the Coaching Relationship or the Coaching Culture.

Where this problem has not been included in the Contract the fall out can include loss of trust and respect for individual Coaches and perhaps the whole Coaching Culture. It can create a major sabotage on the whole process.

The second challenge is the nature of what is known as Three (or more) Cornered Contracts. This refers to all the stake holders in a Coaching Relationship. In addition to the Coach and Client there may also be Managers and Coaching Sponsors. Sometimes Managers and Coaching Sponsors can create pressure on Coaches to break confidentiality or to perhaps address issues with the client covertly.

For example, the Coach may be told to fix a behavioural issue in the client by the Manager or Sponsor. The Coaches among you will already have noticed the word “fix” which of course is not appropriate to Coaching anyway. Often the client has no idea the Coach has been given an agenda by a Sponsor or Manager.

 This dynamic can go in a number of directions. If the Coach complies and the client works it out trust and respect are broken. If the Coach tries to insist on boundaries they may experience even more pressure and even criticism particularly if there is lack of back up from the organisation.

The introduction of a bigger picture Contract as part of the Coaching Culture can remove this challenge. Those responsible for setting up the Coaching Culture create rules and boundaries for how Coaching is conducted. You will need to ensure there is top level buy-in to these rules and boundaries if the Coaching Culture is to succeed.

These are just two of the challenges faced when introducing a Coaching Culture and something we often help with when consulting in Organisations.

What are your thoughts on this topic?