Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Evaluating Professional Performance

My current foray into the world of evaluating the professional performance of others is as a member of the ICF Credential Assessor Team. I’ve been involved heavily for the past 8 years. And, I hope I have not only learned a lot but have become a better assessor and better coach.

I’ll speak to 4 observations … commitment, skill, imperfection, and value.

(1) Commitment. There’s a lot involved with evaluating a person’s professional future. For one thing, it’s taking what this is all about with a deep serious commitment to doing the best possible job for all concerned. One does not take that lightly for a moment. And, I would say it’s the first and most important place to stand when taking on this commitment.

(2) Skill. For many years I was involved in training, developing and evaluating people who chose to become officials for a sport (competitive swimming in this case). This long time experience probably helped me move into the professional coaching arena more than I realized at the time. It remains a grateful background to my assessor work.

Another helpful origin is that I did not train with any of the founding group of coach training programs … I had no bias on how coaching should sound or be. Really, that’s true and remains to this day. The only backside of that is I do not want to hear a training program showing through above and beyond the coach … i.e. method coaching (sort of like method acting gone astray). To become an assessor is to shed one’s “learned” way of how coaching should be.

(3) Imperfection. There are some aspects that don’t work optimally about the ICF credentialing program but it’s rather remarkable how much does work well. In a new profession, grabbing the reins as the ICF did in 1998 and creating a credentialing program complete with core competencies that seemed to emerge from inspiration must be acknowledged as amazing.

But then again, to anyone who has not succeeded in obtaining their desired credential, there may be a heavy dose of criticism … well, except for the few who pursue with passion, learn, and ultimately do succeed. I know a few and admire the heck out of these exceptional coaches.

(4) Value. For anyone wanting to learn more about coaching than one could ever learn in any other way, becoming an ICF assessor is marvelous. I can say honestly, that my coaching could never have moved forward as it has without this part of my everyday training and development. The hours I spend as an assessor continue to be eminently worthwhile.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I’m a zealot about managing distractions when coaching. I normally think of cell phones, email, doorbells, children, dogs, cat walking across my desk, small child practicing mousemanship … the regular list.

That’s changed.

For the past few weeks I've been plagued by back problems … which is quite a distraction. I can work, take care of clients, get my house ready for sale … those kinds of important items, but I have not been blogging. Therefore, distractions have expanded into my blogging world. Just because I hurt doesn’t automatically translate to “can’t do my blogs” but apparently it has.

Blogging requires having something to say about something. I’m not pleased with myself for using pain and inconvenience as an excuse but it seems I have.

Distractions are a big deal in the world of professional coaching. That’s why there’s a very important competency called Coaching Presence. I’ve learned to manage this competency when coaching so now it’s time to expand its reach. Where this ‘reach’ goes I do not know but in case I wasn’t finding something new to learn, here it is!

While I’m on a roll, let me say something about Coaching Presence. Over the past couple of months I’ve had the pleasure and frustration of evaluating 4 coaching exams. The key to success, as I long ago discovered, is to be fully present, completely flexible and totally in service of one’s client. There is no other way to pass the ICF exams at a high level.

Distractions for coaches taking their exams are often subtle … so subtle the coach is unaware of them. These kinds of distractions include “trying really hard,” “preparing so much the prep itself destroys presence,” “having exam anxiety (performance anxiety),” “being awed by the assessor team (trust me it happens),” “failure to practice a 30-minute session,” “letting any other distraction get in the way,” “being late to the call,” … got the point? This list of what could be construed as beneficial (e.g. trying really hard) actually is subtle sabotage to peak performance in an exam setting. Any of these distractions will get in the way of being fully present in the conversation. A low score in Coaching Presence is not supportive of doing well in the exam, most definitely at the MCC level.

You might wonder if anyone passes their exam … the answer is yes! My past blogs talk a lot about what it takes to pass. This blog reminds us all that we must overcome distractions and not let them destroy our capacity to be fully present and natural.