How To Get Real Change When You Coach


Most good coaching sessions produce change. Hopefully this will be change for the better, as the individual is guided towards making realizations and discoveries about their life and situation.

But knowing you are there to help your staff make these all important changes and knowing how to get that change are two different things. Coaches use a variety of methods to encourage the coachee to move towards self discovery. The changes that are made are always more potent and longer lasting if the coachee feels they have discovered the way forward themselves.

For instance let's assume you and your coachee (the person you are coaching) have discovered what has been holding them back at work. Instead of simply suggesting they take a certain action to ensure better results in future, you can ask the right questions and use the right methods to help guide them towards the solution they seek. They will feel that they have arrived at the solution on their own, and thus it will stick in their mind even more than it would otherwise. A greater degree of understanding can be reached by the individual and they are more likely to experience easier steps forward in the future.

Giving feedback to staff is another important facet of coaching, and the DESCCO method is just one that you may want to consider using.

Understanding The DESCCO Method

The word DESCCO is an acronym, so before we continue we should discover what each letter stands for. Each one points to a different part of the process of giving feedback, and as such the method can be used by a coach to ensure their client understands a particular point.

Here is how the acronym breaks down:

D - describe the event that occurred
E - express your feelings about the event
S - specify the preferred action to take
C - consequences the preferred action would have
C - contract the agreement that the new action will take place
O - okay - agree to the new action

How can DESCCO be used in various coaching situations?

If you are speaking to an employee and you want to encourage them to act in a more responsible way, you can use the DESCCO method in this situation. It also helps them to discover and identify the results of their own actions and how things might change for the better in the future.

Here is an example, taken from a situation when an employee went to lunch early without permission, leaving another colleague working alone:

"Paul, when you left for lunch early I felt you put unnecessary pressure on your workmate. If you want to take your lunch early I would prefer it if you came over to me and asked for permission before you left. That way you won't leave your colleague on their own with too many customers to deal with. Can I expect you to ask for permission next time before taking your break? Okay."

The same DESCCO model can also be used in situations where someone has gone to see a coach to help them make progress in general in their lives. Let's choose another situation here - namely one that sees the individual jumping from job to job without being happy in any of them:

"Sarah, when you go from job to job I feel you don't take enough time to consider each position before applying for and accepting it. If you want to apply for something else, it would be better if you took the time to consider the position more carefully before taking it any further. That way you will be less likely to be dissatisfied and want to leave soon after taking the job. Can I expect to see you putting more thought into the process from now on? Okay."

As you can see, this uses the very same DESCCO model to guide the coachee through the situation and out the other side. It also means we can utilize a positive outcome. It wouldn't be enough if we pointed out the problem and the fallout it causes. We need to ensure the feedback is given with a solution as well - namely one that we have encouraged the coachee to arrive at.

Feedback is important because it underlines what has already been discovered. It ensures the coachee understands the process that has occurred and they know what is expected of them in the future. As such it provides them with a goal to aim for, and you can then move on to the next topic of discussion.

Real change is what coaching is all about.

Some people who take on coaching duties without really understanding how to help people in this situation end up talking to them and giving solutions out left, right and center. But while the coach may feel satisfied that the right solution and end game has been arrived at, the coachee may have left the session feeling disappointed and puzzled.

DESCCO is one of the best ways to give appropriate feedback once the coachee's self discovery has led to their understanding of a particular situation as described above. If real change is to occur after a coaching session it is vital that the coach is sure the client understand the process. The only way that Paul and Sarah will change the habits they have developed in the above examples is if they understand the consequences those habits have had. The DESCCO method helps to lay out their actions and consequences, as well as giving a suggestion on how to change their actions for the better in the future. This in turn will also lead to better consequences. Of course, you can change the model a bit and ask questions about the consequences and course of action rather than tell them. This increases the self discovery aspect further.

Coaching is a rewarding experience for both parties when it goes well. The coach likes to feel as though a session has achieved its purpose, with real change taking place in and for the individual as a result. This should in turn lead to better achievements in the future, and of course the DESCCO method can be used over and over where appropriate to get great results.

Derek Good
Managing Director
Rapid Results Limited



Productivity, confidence and leadership are areas Derek Good writes, presents and works with businesses to develop.

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