Aaron Carlson is a leadership coach whose focus is working with emerging leaders to get clear on their vision, communicate more effectively, and lead high performing teams. Aaron uses Solution-Focused tools and NLP techniques learned in the Art and Science of Coaching program at Erickson Coaching International to support his clients to spotlight their talents. Aaron is working towards his Erickson Certified Professional Coach (ECPC) and Accredited Coach Certification (ACC).
Using Coaching Tools to Address Objections
Recently I was working with a team on developing an action plan in response to an employee survey. After evaluating the data, the team identified that they wanted to improve the morale of the organization. Conversations around a boardroom table can often derail or go off-track, especially with a large group of people. To assist the team with developing an intervention, I used Tri-Position Planning. This particular coaching tool is one of many tools that Erickson Coaching International trained coaches on to support their clients. This is a fun and engaging exercise that takes business leaders into three distinct spaces of thinking (visionary, planner, and the wise advisor) to flesh out a project plan. Giving yourself permission to step into a space where the conversation is facilitated by a coach can ensure that the team stays on task by focusing on the objective of the conversation. The tool is also designed to have fun, and there are many variations. To incorporate a degree of fun, I purchased a set of children’s play rugs in different colors and asked the team to select a separate color that represents their visionary, planner, and wise advisor selves. Then we stepped into the colored rug for some exploration!
While reviewing my facilitation plan with the executive, she expressed a concern. Her concern was that the team may not be ready for such a conversation and may respond with a need to “research” before being able to participate or fully commit. Naturally, this executive wanted the exercise to be realistic and beneficial for the team. As a leader of her team, she had valid concerns. However, as an Erickson trained coach, I wanted to explore this objection further. I fully believed that her team had the necessary resources to implement the intervention. In addition, I believe that every coaching conversation can offer a substantial value. Perhaps the exercise wouldn’t produce a project plan for the intervention. The executive acknowledged that an action step may be that the team needs to do some research—however, time is money, and is there a real need for a coach to come in to facilitate a conversation to answer the questions whether research time would be required? Maybe not so much, but what a coach can do is facilitate an extremely powerful conversation that ensures the team has integrated their values and passion into the need for the intervention and inspire accountability so that when they break from the boardroom and return back to their teams they actually research rather than let it die on the vine.
The beauty of Tri-Position Planning is that you can overcome a coaching client's objection of wanting to delay an action, and still achieve their objective; in this case, to develop an intervention to boost employee morale. Utilizing this effective Solution-Focused tool would produce extreme value from the conversation that inspires productivity towards formulating an intervention to resolve their current issue.
Stepping into the dreamer or visionary space will invite questions that engage the team in visualizing what their employee culture could look like 12 months out after the intervention has been fully implemented. Asking those higher logical level questions will further integrate the need for this intervention into their corporate culture to achieve who they want to be as leaders and an organization.
The 'realist' or 'planner' space is where the executive had reservations whether the team would be able to move forward or encounter a roadblock. This objection of “we’ll need to research that and get back to you,” can easily be addressed with one of my favorite As-If Shifts known as an Information Shift.
Just suppose for a moment, that immediately after this meeting, you go back to your desk and as you sit in front of your computer with this amazing technology we call Google Search, and you’re reflecting back on this desire for your agency to develop career tracks…. what do you type into the search bar?
As the client gives their answer, you may step into a 'critic' space with a question "and as all the possibilities appear on your screen now, I find myself curious as to how you will determine which sources are credible?"
The next line of questioning may even take you towards a mentor table route, "you have always found (backtrack credible source) to be reliable, and just suppose for a moment that they were here with us right now, what would you ask them?" After partnering with the team, step back into the realist space, and continue the line of questioning with what their credible source would do to implement this intervention.
As you move back towards the critic or wise advisor you may take a Systems As-If Shift line of questioning to generate solutions from the team composed of a variety of different departmental units.
Just suppose you were to start looking at this morale issue from the point of view of the entire Agency for a moment, and you are noticing departments where there is some low morale and other departments where there is high morale. What are some of the practices you can take from departments with high morale and shift them to other departments with low morale?
Tri-Position Planning can create a line of questioning that truly supports the client to shift them from an objection of wanting to postpone a conversation towards having an outcome that produces an action plan with possibilities that they can explore and align their commitment with their values that supports them to follow through with developing their intervention.
The executive put her faith in me and we went forward with Tri-Position Planning. The results were absolutely amazing! Having some fun with colored rugs, and getting up to move around along with some amazing coaching techniques (i.e., setting As-If Shifts, Modulating Tone) learned in The Art & Science of Coaching at Erickson Coaching International, the team was able to relax into a resourceful state where they could identify an intervention to increase employee morale. They fully believed that revising the performance appraisal process would have a significant impact on the organizational morale. The team was able to co-create a vision that aligned with their values and the agency values to ensure commitment and follow through. Most importantly, the concern of the executive was alleviated, because the team was able to walk away with concrete steps and milestones that they would accomplish within the next four months.
Learn more about using coaching tools in the workplace with Erickson's Explore Coaching Competencies webinar