Are you really coaching? by Betsy Block

Hi! I’m Betsy Block, coach, consultant and jill-of-all-trades.  I added coaching to my capacity building work as I trained with two thought pioneers– Coaching Training Institute and CRR Global.

Evaluators have started asking critical, challenging questions: how do we build our client’s capacity? How do we incorporate equity into our own practices? How do we guarantee lasting, meaningful use of evaluation findings?  While independent, evaluation still has a critical role, more often evaluators are seeking alternate ways to increase integration of findings into practice.  In that search, evaluators are increasingly integrating non-traditional tools focused on the interpersonal side as innovative capacity building approaches.

Hot Tip:

Consulting, coaching and mentoring are all approaches we use in with clients to help drive adoption. Try focusing on which approach you are leaning into with your client and the implications of that.

Consulting, mentoring, coaching

Coaches are awesome.

Coaches encourage you, believe in you, and help you achieve your best!  The increase in evaluators offering coaching is a great trend, maybe in part because it feels more approachable than traditional consulting models.    Many evaluators received accredited coach training or hold certifications from the International Coach Federation, the largest accrediting body for coaching.  Many instinctively coach because it is just their way of being.  However, some offer coaching but deviate from evidence-based practices that trained and/or credentialed coaches use – and while these consultants can get positive results, they risk missing the mark in terms of equity and more impactful capacity building.

So how do you do more coaching? 

Lessons Learned:

  • Three simple words can make coaching happen: tell me more.
  • Hold clients as creative, resourceful and whole: prize their expertise above yours. It’s harder than we think. (Let’s get real, we are experts with cool tools!) Last summer, a client began our meeting by asking me to tell him what to do.  I shelved my expertise and told him he had all the knowledge to lead the project.  I asked him simply “What are you wanting?” and kept asking curious, short questions. He had already conceived a thoughtful, purposeful evaluation framework.
  • Coach the system. You are often coaching more than a person, and more than a group of people. Have you ever walked into your client’s office and felt that feeling in the air, like it had its own presence?  That’s the system – you have to reveal it to your client so they can figure out what they want to do about it.   Don’t judge or characterize, just notice it and give them a safe space to talk about it.  “I feel some kind of energy in this room in this room? What about you?”

Rad Resources:

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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