The CLEAR Coaching Model
Coaching is facilitating discovery with someone to explore and identify his/her own performance, behavior, or situation.
You can be a manager without being a coach. You can provide direction, measure results, and make decisions without making the extra effort to observe, guide, and develop the people who report to you. But that’s not enough to get the results you need in today’s competitive, fast-moving business world. Organizations want employees who are committed and contributing, not just complying. The CLEAR model provides effective coaching techniques to nudge you toward this goal.
The CLEAR Model
The CLEAR model was created by Peter Hawkins in the early 1980s and has since been used extensively to train and supervise leaders with effective coaching techniques. It provides five clear stages to the process of coaching, and allows for focused, appropriate interventions. The five stages are:
CONTRACT | LISTEN | EXPLORE | ACTION | REVIEW
It is important to note, however, that while this coaching model for leadership development may seem linear on the surface, coaching rarely happens in a systematic manner. The CLEAR model provides a framework within which to have a coaching conversation, but allows the coach and coachee to move freely from one stage to another in any order that fits.
Objective: To agree on how you will work together, and what you will talk about.
The contract stage starts with establishing the coachee’s desired outcomes, determining which needs are to be covered, and understanding how the coach and coaching process can be most valuable. Contracting is an iterative process. Its purpose is to help clarify what the focus really is. If we accept the first formulation of the goal too readily, we can prolong the process unnecessarily. Whenever the goal appears to have been reached, re-contracting is needed. If the coaching conversation takes a turn to a new or different issue, re-contracting is needed.
Objective: To get the employee to share the details and reality of the situation, AND to share his/her thoughts and feelings.
The listen stage involves active listening and asking key questions to help the coachee develop his/her understanding of the situation. The coach needs to make the coachee feel heard and attended to – like you really “get it” – so they know you understand what it is like to be in their shoes. This is an important step in helping the coachee become aware of the assumptions and motivations that drive his/her behavior.
Levels of Listening
|Full and undivided attention; free from distractions.||Paraphrases; matches the language of the speaker.||Understands and acknowledges the emotions and the words.||Expresses what is sensed beyond what has been said; gives speaker room to correct.|
Objective: To get the employee to emotionally connect to a change in behavior; to experience an a-ha moment.
The explore stage involves you as the coach looking at yourself and determining how your interventions are intended and received. One reaction/intervention is not better or worse than another, but it may be more effective and/or appropriate given the context (timing, environment, relationship, etc.). The explore stage is where you try to expand your range as a coach in an attempt to create a “shift in the room,” which will help the coachee emotionally connect to whatever behavior/mindset change is needed.
Objective: To get the employee to commit to the details of his/her actions, and to practice (if necessary).
The action stage is about moving toward specific commitments. This is when a plan is formulated for the path forward. It is often useful to do a “fast-forward rehearsal” during this stage, where the coach asks the coachee to envision enacting his/her commitments and see how it fits. In this stage, we ask “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” and “how.” Avoid using “why” questions, as they are useful in the listen and explore stage but less so in the action stage.
We have a natural tendency to hear an “action plan” and respond with something like, “let me know how it goes…” But digging deeper will force your employee to really think through his/her steps, and the level of commitment will grow. How can you move past the default, and ask questions to ensure he/she is truly committed?
Objective: To ask for feedback on how you can be more effective, and to follow up on progress.
The review stage involves a recap of the actions agreed to, and it indicates how the coaching conversation went overall. It is an opportunity for the coachee to express what was helpful, what was challenging, and how they would like a coaching conversation to be different in the future. It is also an opportunity to follow up on the action by asking how it went. In addition, the review stage is an excellent point for the coach to ask for feedback on his/her effectiveness.
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