In recent reading about coaching I've come across two models that you might find useful in developing the folks on your team. Both models represent personal change and growth as occurring at a number of levels, each one deeper than the last. In both cases, you ask at which level you are hoping to see an employee grow, and then intervene appropriately.
In The Masterful Coaching Fieldbook: Grow Your Business, Multiply Your Profits, Win the Talent War! (Essential Knowledge Resource)Robert Hargrove describes the triple-loop learning model:
- Single loop learning answers the question, "Are we doing things right?" The focus is on Actions - doing things better, adopting best practices. The mantra for this loop is, "Follow the rules."
- Double loop learning answers the question, "Are we doing the right things?" Here the focus is on Beliefs and Mental Models of what works. By reshaping how we think about our actions, we become capable of doing different things. The mantra for this loop is, "Change the rules."
- Triple loop learning answers the question, "How do we decide what is right?" Here the focus is learning how to learn and exploring values and principles. Learning at this level can lead to a transformed self-view - to becoming a different person (or organization). The mantra for this loop is, "Figure out how to think about the rules."
When contemplating a growth opportunity or a problem with one or more employees, ask yourself what level of learning will give you the most leverage. Does your employee simple need to learn specific skills? That's single loop learning. Is your team doing a great job on the wrong things, and failing to deliver required business results? That might be served by double loop learning. Is it unclear why your organization exists and what your mission is? Triple loop learning might be in order.
In The Coaching Bible: The Essential Handbook, Ian McDermott and Wendy Jago describe a coaching model they call multi-modal coaching. They identify four elements (logical levels, the remedial-generative continuum, systemic context and the interpersonal-intra-psychic continuum). For this blog, I'll focus on the six logical levels.
- Environment. This element answers the questions where and when, and focuses on the physical and social environment of the employee you are working with.
- Behavior. This element answers the question what, and focuses on what your employee does or does not do.
- Capability. This element answers the questions how and how-to, and focuses on knowledge, skills and processes.
- Beliefs and values. This element answers the question why and gets at your employee's core.
- Identity. This element answers the question who and gets at the employee's sense of self. Criticism at this level, by the way, will often generate heavily defensive behavior.
- Beyond identity. This element answers the questions for whom and for what and focuses on the larger purpose, mission and meaning.
As with the triple loop learning model, the trick here is to consider at what level the problem is occurring and at what level intervention might have the greatest level.
A nice summary of the triple loop learning model by Mary R. Bast, Ph.D.
Here's more about logical levels.