There are three different parties in coaching

  1. Coach
  2. Person
  3. Problem

According to Chad W. Hall, there are also three levels of coaching which he describes in Coach The Person Not The Problem.

  1. Beginner: Coach the Problem
  2. Better: Coach the Problem through the Person
  3. Transformational: Coach the Person for Internal Change

Hall contends in this short guide that most coaches focus on the first level. They assume that they have more experience than their clients and offer solutions to problems. This is more consulting than coaching.

Hall wants coaches to operate at Level 2, and use Level 3 when appropriate. This book is about getting you to focus on the person which is the essence of being at Level 3.

The purpose of this book is to encourage you to focus your attention on the the client.

He also has a caveat up front, if you’re just starting coaching then the book isn’t for you. He feels that you need some time having coaching conversations to understand what he’s saying and even have the option of operating at Level 2 or 3.

Beginner: Coach The Problem

This is where coaches start and focuses on the problem. The client describes the issue to the coach. The coach has a bunch more experience and maybe reading, thus has a solution.

The problem here according to Hall is that the client has little ownership over the solution because they didn’t invest. They’re implementing the solution provided by the coach.

Many coaches get stuck here because it feels so good to be useful and solve problems. It never brings about real personal change for clients though.

Better: Coach the Problem through the Person

Level two means to get the client to talk deeply about what the problem means to them. They dig in, and you facilitate developing their problem-solving skills.

This level is better because it builds the clients problem-solving capacity and this is not consulting, but according to Hall it doesn’t bring about transformation in the client.

It only brings incremental change.

Transformation: Coach the Person for Intentional Change

When you coach at this level you are sensitive to the fact that sometimes the goal of coaching isn’t just to solve a problem but to help the client grow, develop, and even transform.

Now we have our third level, the one that brings transformation to a client. This is the level where you probe deeply, and a mindset changes or an old poor habit gets kicked.

This is not asking rapid-fire questions, but being comfortable with silence. Letting a client brew on the ideas floating around. This is one of the reasons transformation is hard. We want to solve problems and wait for our turn to speak.

One trap with transformation is that you can’t always operate here. If you keep going for transformation with a client, they’ll never get anything done. You do have to do Level 2 coaching and help clients solve the new problems inside the transformation.

Hall leaves us with two final ideas.

First, you need to be creative as you coach. Firing down a list of questions and examples to use with everyone won’t work.

Second, thinking that emotions don’t mean anything is wrong. Avoid labelling the emotions of the people you coach. Let them do it or remain without comment.

Recommendation for Coach the Person Not the Problem

I do like the levels of coaching, and this book did have me thinking that I sit too much in Level 1 currently. So there are some valid takeaways, but you get it all in my even shorter look at the book.

The book was only a 15-minute read, which means it’s not much longer than this. To make it better, more examples of the levels and better instructions on how to move up them as a coach would be great.

Get Coach the Person Not the Problem on Amazon

photo credit: clement127 cc