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What do my breakfast and my supervision have in common?

Posted By Sue Stockdale, 01 July 2017

No two coaching clients are the same.  Just like no two mornings are the same for me. And if we get into a habit of assuming that things are always the same, we can fall into the same patterns of behaviour, which may not be effective. 

To counteract this danger, I always eat something different for breakfast. Sometimes its cereal, sometimes toast or a smoothie.  This stems from my belief that if we want to improve as coaches, no matter how we do it, we need to get used to being uncomfortable, and not just rely on habits, patterns or models that have served us in the past. 

Today, after boiled eggs and toast, it’s time to begin work. I have a series of coaching supervision calls with coaches who operate as internal coaches within an organisation. The sessions are usually one hour in duration, and I go into each session expecting that the coach will have done some preparation beforehand.  At the beginning of the supervision relationship, the coach receives a supervision notebook containing questions and ideas to consider so that they come to the call prepared and focused.  It makes it more enjoyable and productive for both of us, when they have done a bit of preparation beforehand.

When I am doing telephone work I am often in my office which overlooks open fields and lots of trees.  It’s very peaceful and I hope that this environment influences how I operate and that the calm energy is transmitted through the phone too.

At the end of our conversation I always ask the coach for their feedback about the session.  We can step out of the content, and review “how the session went” together.  If I don’t do this, how do I know if I have done a good job, and what I can improve for the next time? It’s interesting to notice that often what the coach has found valuable is different to what I thought was impactful.  It helps us both to become more aware of how (where?) the supervision is of value. 

Later in the day I take time to write up my notes from the call, reflecting on what I learned and how the we both reacted to the issues that were raised.  I can glean as much benefit from the thinking time afterwards as I can from being “present in the moment” during the call.   There are reflection pages in the coach’s notebook so that they can also write their observations after the session.  I find myself wondering, “What did they learn?”  Did it seem like supervision or coaching  for them?  What, did they not say ?   My aim is to use the ‘plan, do, review’ process to keep improving as a coaching supervisor.  That helps me get out of my comfort zone!


Sue Stockdale

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