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Solving problems during a feedback session

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Sometimes during coaching sessions learner/employees bring up problems and what you to tell them how to solve them. The is often an outgrowth of the self-assessment process. It is more effective, however, if the coach helps the learner/employee solve his or her own problem.

The problem–solving model comprises of three parts:

 Diagnosing the problems
 Generation alternative actions or behaviour
 Identifying consequences for each action

The most important skill for any problem-solving situation is critical thinking, which is accomplished through a distinct, eight-step process that should not be confused with traditional problem solving.

The following table, which lists both processes side by side for convenient comparison, reveals the uniqueness of critical thinking despite a few obvious similarities with the traditional process.

Traditional Problem-Solving Process
1. Definition of the problem
2. Diagnosis of the cause
3. Development of alternative solutions
4. Evaluation of alternative solutions
5. Selection of the best solution
6. Implementation.

Critical-Thinking Process

1. Definition of the problem.
2. Collection of all information relevant to the problem.
3. Identification of as many possible causes of the problem as you can think of.
4. Selection of the most likely cause.
5. Use of creative problem-solving techniques to brainstorm as many solutions for removing this cause as possible.
6. Evaluation of the solutions based on factors critical to success.
7. Selection of the best solution based on these factors.
8 Creation of a plan of action to implement the chosen solution.

The eight-step critical-thinking approach to problem solving avoids some of the problems associated with traditional problem solving:

 Not clearly defining the problem. Most problems aren’t in neatly wrapped boxes.
 Making assumptions about the cause of the problem without facts or foundation.
 Lacking a structured approach to solving a problem.
 Stopping with the first good idea.
 Making snap judgments.

Getting the employee to commit to a plan of action

An important part of the developmental coaching process is letting learners/employees participate actively in goal setting.

The coach and learner/employee establish performance improvement goals that are:

 Specific
 Realistic
 Attainable
 Simple
 Time bound as well as
 Strategies for overcoming the barriers

Questions to ask when planning to do improve performance

 What do you want to improve?
 How will you know when you have reached the improvement goal?
 What obstacles may hinder your attempt to reach your goal?
 Who or what can be a source of help to you in reaching your goals?
 What action steps will you take to accomplish your goal?

Arrange Follow-up Sessions

Successful coaching requires an action plan and follow-up. You should state exactly what you want the learner/employee to do. It’s a good idea to ask the learner/employee to summarise the session by stating what he or she is going to work on

Before concluding the coaching session, you and the learner/employee must agree on a time to meet to discuss progress. The next meeting should be scheduled to give enough time to the learner/employee to practice the skills.