Opinion: Bite-sized coaching anyone?

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Bite-sizeAre we moving into a scary world of superfast, slimmed down and speeded up coaching - the coaching equivalent of McDonalds - asks Olivia Stefanino?

Having lost out recently on a three-way coaching pitch, I licked my wounds, bit the bullet and picked up the phone to have a conversation with the manager responsible for allocating the work.

The aim of the call wasn't bitter recrimination or sour grapes – but I did want to make sure that I learned all I could for next time.

Photo of Olivia Stefanino"Do you think we're entering into the scary world of McCoaching? Do you prefer your coaching sessions – whether you're on the giving or receiving end – to be short and sharp or deep and meaningful?"

After initially sounding wary, the delightful woman on the other end of the line soon started to warm up and we ended up having a very interesting conversation.

While she thought that my proposal was both interesting and represented great value for money, she'd decided to choose another organisation over mine, simply because their coaching sessions were shorter.

"What we've decided is to adopt a policy of offering staff 'bite-sized' coaching sessions of no more than 30 minutes long," she confessed.

Well, that explains that then: my coaching sessions are generally between one to two hours long.

Now my would-be client is of course free to choose her coaching provider for whatever reasons suit her best. But I did think it was interesting that she wanted to ensure that all coaching sessions within the company were brief because she wasn't convinced that her (younger) employees would have a sufficient enough attention span to cope with anything more.

What kind of a society are we living in today if people can't be trusted to focus on anything for more than half an hour at a time? And even more to the point, given that what's most important to most of us is ourselves, isn't it amazing that we can't even be expected to devote much time at all to our goals, our careers and our futures?

"Some share my belief that very short coaching sessions deprive the coachee from the opportunity of establishing any kind of meaningful relationship with his or her coach... while others feel that a short, sharp burst of coaching inspiration is all that one really needs."

I know we're living in a throw-away society. Rising obesity levels prove that we're living in a fast-food culture. And now it seems, that unless we hear things in sound bites or watch action-packed movies, we're unsatisfied.

The result? We're going to become an increasingly superficial society in which anything remotely deep and meaningful is discarded as we'll all be so focused on looking around for the next buzz.

Or, of course, I'm just a grumpy old fart who can't keep up!

Anyway, it all got me thinking and after posing the issue to a number of individuals of different ages – with some who are into coaching and some who aren't – it seems that (perhaps unsurprisingly) there are a variety of different opinions on the subject.

Some share my belief that very short coaching sessions deprive the coachee from the opportunity of establishing any kind of meaningful relationship with his or her coach (however good one's NLP rapport building techniques are) while others feel that a short, sharp burst of coaching inspiration is all that one really needs.

So, let me expand my unofficial research further.

Do you think we're entering into the scary world of McCoaching? Do you prefer your coaching sessions – whether you're on the giving or receiving end – to be short and sharp or deep and meaningful? Or do you think that there's room for both, as appropriate to the occasion and the person?

Olivia Stefanino is the author of 'Be Your Own Guru' and has run leadership and coaching programmes within both blue chip organisations and SME's over the last 10 years. To download her free tips booklet '127 ways to harness your personal power' visit www.beyourownguru.com

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