Musings on designing experiences & (re)engineering complexity

May 2023

Coaching’s Down-Slope

Much about coaching others seems to be setting people and teams on the upswing. But, you’ve also got to deal with the reality of breaking down or the down-slope. This can be when you’ve made the decision to shift strategy and tactics, and it means significant behavior changes (aka, change management in many contexts today). It means when the coach also has to take steps away to avoid burn-in and burn-out. This can also be when you are in the squishy valley after a change has happened, but the results aren’t yet present. The reality of coaching is that the valleys are just as traversed as the mountains.

You have to be honest with the process. Meaning, you have to understand that change and growth are a process. And this process includes breaking down as well as building up. Breaking down bad behaviors means measuring where you didn’t, and questioning what you wouldn’t. More than trusting the process, you’ve got to communicate it - for example, when companies modernize by adopting agile principles, they often forget that being agile doesn’t mean meetings and ceremonies, it means agility in the face of data and challenges. This means sharpening communicative skills is part of agility, just as it might be to adopt kanban and scrum boards.

Told one group about the phases of growth which happen with growing companies. They were surprised at the frankness of what happens at each stage of employee count, not having considered the down-moments alongside the growth ones. It was here we had to begin working on their expectations, and communicating the, with the intention of clarity, not the expectation of control. When the group gathered themselves around clarity, they were able to better communicate harder decisions at specific periods of growth. And in one case, they even questioned their original intentions for growth. This is accepting the down-slope, and letting it create inertia for the eventual upswing (for them, that happened).

Do you have an expectation of growth, but a realization in this moment that it feels more like things are breaking down? Have you listed or communicated your expectations and intentions, and are you looking at them from a posture of clarity or control? Are you honest with those expectations and intentions? Or, do you need help discovering clarity in the moment?

If so, we might be able to help. Reach out for a quick chat, and maybe Avanceé might be able to help you find momentum for your next upswing.