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5 Coaching Conversations (Part 4): Developmental Coaching

5 Coaching Conversations (Part 4): Developmental Coaching

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 20
  • Discover Gallup's approach to performance management and the fourth of 5 Coaching Conversations between managers and employees that can build trust and foster engagement.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

Al Winseman, Learning and Development Senior Consultant at Gallup, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. Al shared about Gallup's approach to performance management. That approach involves investing in people as individuals, including the fourth of 5 Coaching Conversations managers should have with their employees -- Developmental Coaching. This conversation is event- or project-based, and itself has 3 subconversations that aid in clarity of expectations; understanding a project's current status, successes and challenges; and a review at the end of the project that includes what comes next.

Access Part 1 of 5 Coaching Conversations, and Part 2, Part 3 and Part 5 of this series.

Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

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Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual studios here around the world, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on March 20, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:20

Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you are listening live, love to have you join us in our live chat room, right -- there's the link right above the video window, right above me. Up there, you can click on that. It'll take you to the YouTube page. You can log into the chat room; we will be looking at and taking your questions live. If you're joining after the fact -- maybe you're watching the recorded version of this, and you have questions, you can send us an email anytime: Don't forget, if you are on YouTube, there is a Subscribe button, bottom of -- your bottom right, to you. You can click and subscribe; hit that notification bell so you'll get notified whenever we go live. A great way to kind of keep up with us. And if you're listening to it as a podcast -- and all the cool kids do -- you can, you can find us on any podcast app, just search "Gallup Webcasts." Al Winseman is our host today. Al's a Learning and Development Senior Consultant here at Gallup. Al, welcome kind of to our virtual version of Called to Coach!

Al Winseman 1:19

All right. Hey, thank you. Thanks, Jim. Pleasure to be here today.

Jim Collison 1:23

Great to have you here. We have been working through the 5 Coaching Conversations. Paul Walters spent some time working through the first 3; you're bringing us 4 today. And we'll do 5 as well. We'll have you for 5. Give us -- get us started with this, maybe a little bit of review. And then let's dig into this fourth question.

Al Winseman 1:41

Yeah, this is really -- I love this because as a coach, I spend most of my time coaching managers, managers and senior leaders, and it's a little bit different. And one of the things that I see, and I love about the 5 Conversations That Drive Performance. This is particularly relevant in today's world, and pretty particularly relevant today on March 20, 2020, as, as we've really accelerated here in the last week what has been coming, and that is the virtual workplace. And because the virtual workplace, those conversations that managers have with their team members are more important than ever before -- making those contacts, having those conversations.

Al Winseman 2:19

So I love that we're doing this. And we're thinking about this whole idea of the 5 Conversations That Drive Performance. You know, one is, one is kind of looking at the, the setup for the year. What that looks -- kind of the Role and Relationship Orientation Conversation. And then we have the three coaching conversations.

Al Winseman 2:41

You all, with Paul, with my friend Paul, covered the first 2 of the 3 Coaching Conversations last time, in sessions 2 and 3. But, but the first 2 of those coaching conversations, the Quick Connect -- which is just what it is; it's a Quick Connect. It's not scheduled. I had a colleague one time say, "You know, if it goes longer than 10 minutes, it's not a Quick Connect anymore. I don't know what it is, but it's not a Quick Connect, right?" It's really that time to kind of establish that relationship, touch, touch base, if you will, and just ask some really simple questions about, you know, What are you working on right now? How's it going? And how can I help?

Al Winseman 3:24

Then you have the Check-In, which is more scheduled. But it's really a time to see, are we on track? You know, are we on track with goals -- with developmental goals, with performance goals, so that if we need to make course corrections, we can do them at 1 degree off rather than 10 degrees off. And so those are, those -- again, it's not very long, you know, 10 to 30 minutes long, and it's scheduled maybe once, twice a month.

Al Winseman 3:48

What I'm going to pick up on now here in 4 is Developmental Coaching. Developmental coaching is different. It's different than the other two, but it's still coaching. Now, one of the things we know about about coaching, and that was covered the last time, so about -- if coaching is going to -- if coaching conversations are going to be effective, they need to be frequent; they need to be focused; and they need to be future-oriented. They need to happen a lot. You know, those, those, those daily, weekly times to touch base -- those are all opportunities for coaching. But the thing is that they need to be focused. Because one of the things we know that frequent unfocused conversations are a mess. They lead to confusion, I'm not quite sure what to do.

Al Winseman 4:31

So they really need to be focused and they need to be future-oriented -- looking ahead. Looking ahead, how are we going to get better performance in the future? How can we take what we've learned and apply it, apply it going forward? And that's where the developmental coaching conversation, which is conversation 4, fits into this. And it is different from the, the Quick Connect, and, and the, and the Touch Base because -- and the Check-In because it's really about, about a project. Unlike the Quick Connect and the Check-In conversations, which are ongoing conversations, Developmental Coaching conversations are event-based or project-based. And they really focus on a time when, when an employee or a team member is taking on a new project; they've got an event. And this is something that they can learn and grow from. So it's really focused on the outcomes of this particular project.

Al Winseman 5:30

And as such, with that as the framework around the Developmental Coaching conversation, there are 3 distinct conversations that happen in that framework. The first one is what I call the "setup conversation." It's the first conversation at the beginning of the project, the beginning of the event, beginning of the project. And what it does is it lays out the purpose of that project, OK. So it says, What, what are the outcomes? What are kind of the due dates? What are the materials? What are the equipment? What are the expectations? What do we hope to learn from this? What are the timelines? When are we going to be getting together to kind of check in and see how things are going? All of these things happen. And that is a, that's probably about, you know, maybe 30 minutes, maybe an hour, just depending upon the size and scope of the project.

Al Winseman 6:22

But it really, this is important. This setup conversation is really, really important because it clarifies things. And it sets the priorities. And if, if an employee is not clear about those, it's really going to be hard to get the outcome you're looking for. So, so make sure that that setup conversation answers all the questions that might be there -- all those things that might happen.

Jim Collison 6:44

Al, we've spent a lot of time this year talking about the manager. And, and we have a lot of coaches (we have managers that are listening as well, and so some), but how could coaches or coaching managers help in this, in this area of this setup conversation. Because I think it really -- this is really the, the bedrock, this is the baseline. This is -- if this isn't happening, right, things aren't getting done. So, with coaches in mind, and you've trained a lot of coaches, what kind of advice would you give them to help managers, or even managers that are doing this, to really make this happen? So we know what it needs to be, but what are some, give us some advice a little bit on how they can help get this set up?

Jim Collison 7:23

Yeah, that's, that's really important. And as coaches sitting with managers -- because, again, I think one of the things with managers that we go into is that the vast majority of managers -- I would say, almost all managers, they want to do right by their people. They just want to do the right thing by their people. They just don't know how, and there are a lot of things that they, that they take for granted, or just make assumptions. And that's never a good way to go into things.

Al Winseman 7:53

So to help a manager, what coaches can do and say, so first of all, with the setup conversation, you've got to be clear about the expectations. What are the desired outcomes? Answer some questions: What do you want to accomplish? What do you want the employee to learn? So that you, so that you as a coach can help the manager get clear in their minds what they want. Another way you could kind of do this is sit down with the manager and say, Hey, let's take a look at this. Let's run it through the "smarts filter," right? When we're looking at kind of laying out the setup conversation with a purpose, the outcomes, those things, let's be smart. Is it specific? And if you ask, you know, 5 of the 6 journalist questions -- Who? What? Why? When? Where? and How? -- If you ask those on specific and get really clear about that, you pretty much can answer the rest of it.

Al Winseman 8:39

So is it measurable? What are the outcomes we want to see? What, what, what does excellence look like? What's acceptable? What are we looking for? You know, what are the actions? What are the realistic things we can do? And what are the timelines and deadlines? So, so that's one of the things you could do as a coach to sit down with a manager, and let's be smart about it.

Jim Collison 8:57

Not unlike questions that coaches ask their coachees when they're coaching. Right?

Al Winseman 9:03


Jim Collison 9:03

I think this is where I think coaches can be really, really helpful. Because oftentimes, as managers, we may not think along those lines, you know, we're spending a bunch of time also thinking about this "Boss to Coach Journey," right? Where managers begin to think a little bit more like coaches. And I think coaches have the insight and have been trained to do this all the time. What do you want to achieve? How do we want to do it? What's the measurable outcomes, right? And so as we think through those -- that setup conversation, in a project, I don't know if it's all that much different than when a coach is coaching someone and setting up those right questions, right? I don't think the distance is too far between those.

Al Winseman 9:39

No. Yeah, I would agree. I would agree. Another way to think about it too, in terms of boss to coach; in terms of thinking about helping managers be coaches, you know, and this, this just came to me. Again, it's it's my, it's my Ideation driving the bus here. Thinking about it, too, let's just think about a head coach of an NFL football team. They have to game-plan each week for a new opponent. And so they have to be clear, What do we want to do? What are their tendencies? And so they have to be clear about the game plan. So, so another way to think about this, if you want to take it in as a coach to your managers, is what you're doing for the employee in this project, is what is the game plan? What is the game plan? What does success look like if we execute this game plan? And here's what I want you to do, and here's how you can do it. And here's what we want to see happen as a result of the game plan. So that setup conversation -- another way to think about it is, you know, what's the game plan?

Jim Collison 10:36

Yeah, no, very, very important in the process of doing this. I don't know if we can spend enough time emphasizing except we need to move on to the next, the next part of this. What do we do next?

Jim Collison 10:47

Yeah, so next part, after, after the project gets underway, you've had the setup, then you have regular check-ins, OK. And regular check-ins, there isn't specific, you know, they need to be every week; they need to be every 10 days. I think they need to be regular as, as appropriate with the length of the project. OK? So if we have a 6-month project, you know what, let's have a monthly check-in along that lines. Or, depending upon the complexity of it, we may want to check in more often.

Al Winseman 11:16

But the check-ins, there, there are really three things we look at, at the check-ins. First of all, it's a progress report. How are things going? What are you running into? You know, what, what do we see? Are we, are we where we need to be in the timelines that we've laid out for success? So there's a progress report of what's -- what all's going on; that status report. Then it gets into a little bit more less about kind of the mechanics of the project, which is where the, the progress report comes into play. But then it's more about the individual, and this is where, where managers become more coaches. Let's talk about your successes.

Al Winseman 11:47

So let's, let's just say we've got a 6-month project, you've got a monthly check-in. So let's take a look at the last month. What have been the successes in the project so far? Let's talk about those. Let's get those in mind. What have we learned? What specifically led to those successes? Because that's really kind of a strengths-based approach to project management. And then when we when we review the successes and kind of the key takeaways from those successes, now, let's turn our, let's, let's turn our attention to the challenges. You know, where did things kind of, you know, go off the rails a little bit? You know, what are the things that came up that you weren't expecting? You know, because, because that happens. I mean, I mean, one of the things -- one of the shows I love to watch is "Flip or Flop," you know, on HDTV, and there's always the unexpecteds when you come into the project -- the things you don't anticipate that go wrong. So those are some of the things we want to do too. What are the challenges?

Al Winseman 12:40

And then, and then the fourth thing -- I said "3"; I meant "4" -- fourth thing is OK, how can I help you and what are the res -- do you have the resources that you need in order to carry out this project? So as a coach is sitting down with the manager, this is, this is kind of the framework or the structure of that regular check-in once a project's underway.

Jim Collison 13:00

I love that framework because it actually queues up the first 2 questions or the first 3 questions of our Q12 assessment. Do I know what's expected of me? Do I have the right materials and equipment to do my job? And am I put in the best position possible, right, a coach can begin to use that first three-question framework to be able to interact in there, right, to get something, to get it back. What I love about this, and really the, the first, the first conversation is to the intentionality around this, Al. We're not flying by the seat of our pants on this one, right? Very planned. Very intentional. Going about this with a lot of purpose, right?

Jim Collison 13:34

Yeah, absolutely. And I think that that makes a difference, you know, is that intentionality. Because, because when we kind of review this, in all the coaching that I've done with managers, when they look at it and say, Oh, OK, I get it. These are some things I'm doing. But what we're really giving you is some intentionality and a framework to be able to do that. And one of the things you know, for those of you who coach managers a lot, and those of you who are managers who are on this, on this Called to Coach: Managers love frameworks. If you can give me a framework, I can see how things can plug in, how I can implement the framework. Because processes, frameworks, that's kind of how they're wired. And so what we're doing is giving you a framework so that you can help your people succeed.

Jim Collison 14:17

Awesome. Let's talk about the third part of this conversation.

Jim Collison 14:20

OK, the third part of this conversation is at the end of the project. So we've completed the project, we've hit the outcomes, we wrapped it up. We get together with our employee who has done this, the manager gets together with the employee, and what I call is kind of the review and what's next. Because then we say, OK, let's take a look at this. We're going to -- let's look back at the, at the project. Let's review the outcomes. Let's take a look at how this worked. What are the things that you learned? How did you solve the pro -- how did you solve some of the problems that came up? What did you like best about this? What did you discover about yourself?

Al Winseman 14:52

All of these things that we, that we really review the project, more than just the actual nuts and bolts of the project itself. This is a focus on the employee and what the individual learns from this. Because it's How do we take this -- because again, it's developmental. And what we want to do is, How did you learn and grow from this experience? Let's look at the, at the specifics around that and what happened there. So we, so we do that. And then it's, then we turn our attention -- after we do the review, it's "what's next?"

Jim Collison 15:24

In other words, and here's how this will help you in the future. This is what we're going to do. And this is, this is kind of the next in your progression, your developmental progression. And there may be another project involved, or there may just be -- in your ongoing responsibilities, let's take a look at what you've learned here.

Jim Collison 15:44

When we think about this being project-based, maybe then being team-based, right? And we're thinking more about matrixed teams. As we go more remote, we're getting more matrixed. Any advice you'd give, Al, as we think about this process in a matrixed environment where maybe I'm the project manager, but I don't have direct reporting responsibilities to that line.

Jim Collison 16:09

Yeah, no, I think that that applies well to project managers as well, because you start thinking about this, OK, here's our project. OK, gang, we got the 10 of us, we have to, we have to do this project. And a couple of you are gonna be working on this aspect. And a couple of you will be working on this aspect. And we've got 3 or 4 on this particular aspect of the project. And just laying out the whole process. As a project manager, you know, project managers' lives are complex, right? Because they've got it, because they're going to be responsible for the results and there's a lot of, a lot of layers to projects. And so that setup conversation is going to be really important for them.

Al Winseman 16:44

And so when -- if you're coaching a project manager around this, it is OK, here is what we -- it's, it's really helping them and perhaps even more importantly than a, than a supervising manager. That running through the "SMART" Filter is going to be very, very important in the setup conversation.

Jim Collison 17:05

When you say SMART Filter, just explain that really quickly.

Jim Collison 17:07

Yeah, no, what I love about this is it can be molded or changed based on the scenario, the environment, the distance -- remote versus in-person -- across, across barriers, across, you know, time. It is one of those things where, where you can implement that. And I think the challenge is, is then finding the best technology based on people's strengths, based on what they do well, and having these conversations on a regular basis. We're going to spend a little bit time a little bit more time in, in Part 5 talking about the Progress Review. But Al, anything else you'd add to this before we go?

Jim Collison 17:07

Oh yeah, that is Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Timely. So, so if we take a look at that, when, when the setup of the project -- understanding that as if we say, "This is the project we need to do," how would we describe it in SMART terms: Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Timely? And so then, if we can break it down by that, and a project manager can explain those things, explain the project and the way it lays out, they're going to be -- go a long way to really being, you know, kind of getting any misconceptions out of the way among their team members. And then, then the project manager has regular check-ins. And then when the project's done, Hey, let's review it and see what we learned and how each of us have grown from it.

Al Winseman 18:27

Yeah, I just think that -- just to kind of reiterate, conversations are more important than ever before. You know, as we're practicing social distancing (I had one of my colleagues say, "We really shouldn't think about it as social distancing but more physical distancing"). Because, because the more -- it's kind of the, you know, the more separated we are physically and more, more or less isolated, self-quarantined or, as is common right now, but the more people are working from home and working remotely, that we, we need to connect more often and, and have some frameworks to do that.

Jim Collison 19:03

Yeah, and I don't, I don't know if we need a crisis to be able to do that.

Al Winseman 19:06

Yeah, exactly.

Jim Collison 19:07

I think we, as we get, as we get remote, as we do more remote, as we do more global work together, that's just something we needed to do more of anyways. I think this will actually just help us learn these for some folks. It'll force them into environment. I have been spending a lot of time this week intentionally just talking to people. I've had people contact me and I'm like, "Can we just talk? Can I get you on video?" you know, whether that be on Facebook or whatever. I think in the workplace, and whether it's 2020 or 2022, or 2025, we're going to be up against those communication channels. And so we got to figure out how to continue to do these. Al, thank you for working us through this. I'm looking forward to Part 5.

Jim Collison 19:44

But with that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available. Tons of this content. If you're new to this world, head over to, and we just have tons of resources available for you. If you -- maybe you heard strengths, you came in on a, on a search on this, you've heard strengths for the first time, we'd love you to introduce you to CliftonStrengths and all the information out there is available for that as well. If you're not new to the community, you can sign up for the CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter. It's available in a link at the very bottom of the page there at You can get signed up for it, and we'll send it to you monthly. That just came out yesterday. And so we would love to be able to send you that newsletter as well. If you have any questions about anything, you can send us an email: Sign up for our upcoming webcasts. You can do that: if you want to see a list of the courses that are available to us, we have lots of training, now virtually available for you: courses And then don't forget to join us in our social sites. If you're on Facebook, go to If you're on LinkedIn, we said we have a LinkedIn group as well: Gallup -- "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches" is the right name of that one. Ask to be invited in; I'll let you in as well. We look forward to Part 5. If you're listening to this as a podcast, it's probably already there. If you're listening live, just stay around. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Al Winseman's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Futuristic, Maximizer, Strategic and Command.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

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