A quieter but effective week – acting as coach

 In Gill's Blog

Disclaimer: LawSkills provides training for the legal industry and does not provide legal advice to members of the public. For help or guidance please seek the services of a qualified practitioner.

One of the pleasures of being a consultant is that you get the chance to act as a mentor and coach to a wide range of people. This past week I have greatly enjoyed two coaching sessions with a recent client with whom LawSkills is developing a relationship.

When acting as coach it is imperative to help the person being coached to learn. Let’s call her Jane. Learning is just not going to happen if Jane is in a stressed state or too tired or simply not geared up to learn. For this reason Jane comes to my office and we drink lots of tea!

Any effective learning really needs to be based on the context Jane finds herself in. For example, it might be a need to refresh rusty knowledge because she is taking over the workload of someone and she needs to gain confidence dealing with particular types of work or particular types of client. To create real meaning in learning it helps to work on live matters. This is why senior practitioners who can act as coach are valuable commodities in law firms.

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Coaching is not about showering a person with what you as the coach know but rather enabling Jane to create her own meaning – this might be by using images, stories or encouraging questions.

Senior practitioners who are competent in their technical specialism may not be competent coaches. Just think what powerful team ‘esprit de corps’ will be developed if a supervisor became a coach; supported colleagues yes, by offering advice and assistance but also, in a positive not critical way, challenged them too.

Coaching should be a deliberate process which optimizes performance and encourages self-sufficiency and learning. Would your senior practitioners benefit from becoming coaches? Would your team benefit from you becoming a coach rather than just a supervisor?

Let us know at admin@lawskills.co.uk if you would like our help in making this happen or if you would benefit from the sort of help I am giving to Jane.

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