Coaching models explored: OPERA

19th Jan 2015
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In this edition of Coaching Models Explored, Tim Hawkes looks at a model called OPERA.

This model has been described as being a ‘content-free framework’, though I would contend that all coaching models should be content free, as these should only ever be guidelines to steer the coach through a structured conversation, with all content being generated or driven by the client.

OPENING: This is the opening of the conversation, and should incorporate whatever up-front contracting is relevant: confidentiality for example, which should be implicit in the terms of the coaching intervention, but stands repetition at this stage of the process. It is during this opening section that the coach should strive for engagement and rapport as well as a little data gathering about the client.

PREVIEWING: Looking ahead to how the intervention will look and feel. Explaining and exploring what will be happening and in what way it might impact on the client as the process unfolds.

EXPLORATION: Exploring the issues presented by the client, using whatever methods are most favoured or favourable, and digging for any underlying causes or issues that may not be immediately apparent.

REVIEW: Review the work done in each session. Communicate what you believe has been done and achieved. This should also be done at the end of the whole process or intervention as a means of embedding in the client’s mind the amount of progress they have made.

ADJOURN: Tie up any loose ends and conclude the coaching process, but always with an awareness that the client may want to revisit all or part of the intervention with you, and therefore this isn’t an ending; simply a break for as long a time as necessary/

This model is probably best suited to use by a confident and experienced coach, as certain aspects are less clearly defined than might be expected. For example, the exploration phase needs to be seen as potentially the core of the whole process, and therefore may take a considerable amount of the allotted time unless the coach has sufficient experience to shut it down at the right moment and to move on to the next phase.

As always, we do not claim to be the originators of this model, and are unable to establish who the originators might be. If it’s you, please let us know and we will of course credit you fully.

Tim Hawkes is managing director of Unlimited Potential

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