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Management Coaching: Inside the Eight Steps

By Cliff Hebard

We are sometimes asked why our coaching model at the Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness has eight steps. "Why so many? some wonder.

Given the pace at which most people live and work these days, we can certainly understand the question. Here is a general answer, based on the research of our founders.

The general answer:

Our research identified 47 qualities that distinguished great coaches from their opposites. To make the findings usable and practical, we chose the key themes that did the best job of teaching what we had learned, and built our management coaching model with them. Eight Step Coaching skills was born, and 25 years later it still remains our flagship workshop.

We settled on eight to make sure we did not sacrifice the important aspects of those key distinctions. While on occasion we have packaged this information differently to meet client needs, the eight-step method's effectiveness is well documented.

Why does this approach work so well?

Without at least considering each of the eight steps, coaches risk bypassing key insights or areas to explore. This does not mean that every management coaching session must employ every step. Understanding all eight simply helps coaches see the big picture, and create change.

The example:

Step Three of our model is Establish Impact. Step Seven is Clarify Consequences: Don't Punish. They differ in subtle, but vital ways that almost always creates discussion in our workshops - perhaps in partly because few if any other coaching models address them so specifically.

This example works best if you know some of the specific ideas we assign to these two steps. They are:

Step Three: Establish Impact

  • Examine perceptions

  • Create motivation to plan change

  • Ask where the current path or plan will lead

  • Expect discomfort, as need for change becomes clear

Step Seven: Clarify Consequences; Don't Punish

  • Forecast or predict outcomes of the new plan

  • Clarify what you (coach) will do, given outcome

  • Logic: New plan is a cause, its outcomes are effects

  • Be selective: Focus on key outcomes

In Step Three, the coach works with the other person to change immediate perceptions. Does the person being coached really "get it"? Do they have a sense of urgency? Through positive, supportive questions and great listening, the coach helps the other person grasp and accept the need to change his or her thoughts and/or actions. The coach also helps the person work through the natural discomfort that often accompanies the new insight.

In Step Seven, the focus is mainly on the future. A new plan (Step Four: Initiate a Plan) is going to be used. The coach continues with a positive, interactive approach that employs questioning and listening. Now the focus is on probable results, likely outcomes - on what the coach expects will result from the plan.

Although they arrive from very different directions, we call Steps Three and Seven the "bookends of motivation."

This is one of several key distinctions that the Eight Step Coaching model addresses. These distinctions clarify the coach's options, and the needs of the person being coached. In concert with the other steps they lead to real change and performance gains, adding value to your organization.

These and related ideas are discussed in much more detail in several CMOE books and publications, including The Coach, and Win-Win Partnerships. To receive a 50% discount on any of our hardbound books or 15% off your first scheduled training event please reference this article when contacting CMOE.

About The Author
Cliff Hebard is a senior facilitator for

If you would like more information about our 27 years of experience in management coaching visit


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