Posts Taged support

Is personal coaching right for you? 7 top tips to find out

Personal Coaching

Personal coaching, what is it?  Is it all a con or something useful?  Last week PDP wrote a blog on mentoring and focused on the workplace.  This week, we are going to explore personal coaching and look at what it is in layman’s terms, how it can benefit individuals and lastly look at 7 top tips to know if personal coaching is right for you.

What is personal coaching?

There are numerous definitions of coaching, and many different uses for it, look up this term or life coaching on google!  This article is based on my own experiences as a coach and from informal conversations and intends to explain this concept to joe public.  My from experience, people tend to view coaching in one of two ways, either as being work related (positive) and focusing on helping someone develop a certain skill or knowledge they need for their work role or a promotion.  This type of coaching is generally paid for by the company.  Alternatively, personal coaching can be  confused with counselling and seen by family and friends as being used when someone is “cracking up”, “losing it”, or “struggling to cope due to stress”. Coaching almost seems to be a dirty work if used for personal development, and often individuals aren’t keen to admit to it.  Are things that bad may be asked of them, or what are you actually paying for?  To the uninitiated, coaching can seem to be just a self-indulgent chat with a stranger.  If so, what of it? It is often in the same price bracket as a facial or a massage and if that’s what someone would prefer to do, why not spend money and time looking at the bigger picture of what is happening in your life, and planning next steps for your career, personal relationship, health or personal well-being?
Personal or life coaching has been described by as being able to affect change in “many situations” and describes the process as being able to help “a person’s career direction and development”, or be used “for personal fulfillment or life change more generally”.

What does personal coaching actually do?

1 Support a client to see the bigger picture and step back from being ‘in’ their life for 30 minutes or an hour and view it from the ‘outside’
 2 Untangle some of the threads which can cause personal confusion or negative feelings and emotions
 3 Focus individuals on thinking about what they want to achieve in a specific area of their life
4 Enable someone to recognise their potential
personal coaching - header
 5 Help the client examine perceived problems to see if they are real or not
 6 Guide the client to identify their own route to finding solutions to problems
 7 Lead to a changed mind set, that can have lasting positive consequences


Who can benefit from personal coaching?

The short answer to this question is anyone and everyone. Personal coaching hones in on a particular issue or focus area, that is important to the client and can generally be explored in a short number of sessions.  However, the timescales are dependent on the client’s natural pace and ability to explore and gain the understanding of themselves necessary to move forward.  I’m also had a client who felt she “had got it!” and wanted to stop the sessions, only to come back a few months later to continue with the process.  This particular lady had felt a natural high at breaking through what had seemed an insurmountable mental wall, and thought that was enough, only to realise that now the mental and emotional barrier of “I can’t” had gone, she still needed support with the actions needed to achieve her goal.
Personal coaching is no longer in the realm of only being open to the wealthy or those who have nothing better to do.  It has been re-packaged and re-branded over time to be more accessible to anyone who wants to take charge of an aspect of their life in a positive way.  This can be achieved with the help of a coach, who is impartial and can act as a sounding board, and has the expertise to support them through a problem solving process to help the client improve their life in some way.  Coaching however, does not have ‘set answers’ which the client is guided to.  The client is in control and chooses the direction they wish to take.


How do I know if personal coaching is right for me?


1 Do you need help with a particular area of your life, and would prefer to discuss it with someone removed from the situation, rather than your family or friends?

2 Are you thinking of making a big change in your life, but are unsure if it’s the right decision?

3 Do you want to progress in your career but are not sure how to this?

4 Would you like to improve your personal relationships with friends and  family members?

5 Do you want to develop certain skills, but aren’t sure if they’re really you?

6 Do you want to learn more about yourself and ways in which you can project a positive image?

7 Is it time for you to take stock of your skills and strengths and re-evaluate where you are and where you want to go?

How does personal coaching work at PDP?

I will be your personal coach, and we will agree how you would best like to work and the terms and conditions.  The most popular options are:

  • Over the phone
  • Face-to-face in an agreed venue
  • Skype


Contact me via to discuss this more. I look forward to working with you. Paula


5 steps to running a successful parents’ support group

successful parents' support group

5 steps to running a successful parents’ support group

Reading an article regarding increasing parental involvement made me reflect on the value of setting up and running a successful parent’s support group, as early in the school year as possible.   As staff,  you will quickly become aware of those children who are engaging in  negative behaviours, and will begin trying to change that behaviour through rewards and sanctions, as well as talking 5 steps to running a successful parent's support groupto their parents about your concerns and trying to get them on board.

Some children are new to school life and are struggling to adapt to the formal nature of the setting and cry each time they are left or have regular tantrums throughout their time with you.  Some parents themselves are finding it difficult to leave their little ones,  cry at handover time, and are difficult to get out of the classroom.    I can look back on memories of cajoling parents into leaving their children, then moving onto guiding them to the classroom door, then physically shutting the door, whilst they yell around the frame “remember mummy loves you….the teacher will call me if you need me……I might just wait in the office for half an hour to check that they settle”.  These parents can be their child’s very reason for not settling!

Other children are familiar with school and the routines and are flexing their muscles.  Still others,  may have regularly displayed episodes of choosing to engage in negative behaviour, whilst some may have  an undiagnosed condition such as ADHD or Aspergers or other aspects of the autistic spectrum.


How do you engage parents in discussing their child’s inappropriate behaviour?

successful parent's support group

This is a tricky one, as often the parents you want to speak to are the very ones who ignore you!  More often than not, their own experiences of being at school are extremely negative and they want to avoid being in the building, meeting a teacher and discussing school work at all costs.  Their own academic skills may be poor and so they don’t want to show themselves up by displaying their lack of knowledge.  Add to this already long list of why these parents don’t want to engage with school, the fact that you are complaining about their child’s behaviour, and you can understand why they might blow up at your suggestion that they try that bit harder to help the school!

I have a background in SEN, especially focusing on social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD) and worked both in schools and as part of a local authority behaviour support team. We spent many hours looking at the best ways to work with parents, ranging from formal meetings at school and the accompanying paperwork tying them into trying things at home, which inevitably failed, to having a cup of tea with them in a place they felt comfortable and discussing how to move forward together.  This took time and steps were slow, as we were working on a 1:1 basis.  I found one of the best ways was forming a support group with parents.  I deliberately use the term with, rather than for parents, as they have to feel both parties are on the same side, in order for real changes to be made.

5 steps to running a successful parents' support group

5 steps to running a successful parent’s support group

STEP 1 – Choose carefully the mix of parents who will be in the group.

Will you ‘invite’ parents to join the group, or will they choose to sign up with no suggestion from the school?

From my experience, you will find a number of parents willing to come to a parent’s support group, but will they be the right ones?  The ones who avoid coming to school, don’t return letters etc, will not put their names forward for this.

I’ve tended to ‘invite’ personally those who I want to attend and also mention it to those parents who appear anxious about their children or keen to help, but I have no real concerns over.  This mix ensures that I would not be talking at a group of parents, but that some would ask and answer questions as well. This reinforced the idea that we were actively seeking parental expertise to help change their children’s behaviour.  Also it doesn’t look like a “failing parents group”, as one mum suggested I was asking her to attend.


STEP 2 – Think carefully about the time of day, length and purpose of tsuccessful parent's support grouphe sessions.

These things can make or break a successful parent’s support group.  Parents will always come up with a reason to not attend boring school stuff, that they think has no relevance to them, and also where they will be told that they aren’t parenting their kids right.

The groups I’ve been involved with, trialled times and dates, and found that generally running the session straight after drop off or before pick up were the best times.  We also choose a day towards the end of the week, as often behaviour was getting worse at home as well as at school, and parents were more receptive to behaviour management ideas that they might try out of pure desperation!

The first session was only 30 minutes long, as we wanted it to be as painless as possible, and parents to feel pleasantly surprised when it appeared to be over quickly.  The next session was 45 minutes and then the others were 60 minutes long.  We tended to run them for half a term, and so recruitment began the half term before, in order to get maximum numbers attending the sessions.


STEP 3 – What’s in it for them?

A creche facility was offered for siblings, which initially  was in the same room as our parent’s support group.  This was for two reasons, firstly, to alleviate parental anxiety over what the younger ones were up to and who was looking after them.  We needed to build up trust.  Secondly, it was free childcare and gave them a break!  Thirdly, it meant if parents found the format to imposing, they could pretend to play/oversee their children, whilst still be in the room listening and hopefully contributing.  Fourthly, parents couldn’t cancel, because they had no one to look after their child.

We ensured we offered refreshments for both parents and the toddlers, including cakes for the parents rather than biscuits, as they  thought this was a treat.

Lastly, we arranged for their school based children to be brought to the meeting room, as then our support group sessions didn’t have tparent group wordso be cut short, with parents slowly drifting out.  This strategy also allowed parents to talk to one another after the more formal input and us to have ‘light touch’ 1:1’s with certain parents.


STEP 4 – Choose staff whom the parents like and respect and provide the necessary time for them to fulfil this role properly

My role  with schools was devising the programme for the parent support group project and then acting as the facilitator for each session with a member of school staff.  Choose carefully who that person will be.  The parents have to know this person and have some form of respect or positive opinion about them to start with, as well as feel they are quite high up the school pecking order.  The choices have often been the SENCO or Deputy Head.  These people have been released from some of their duties to allow them to focus on these children, including meeting parents informally throughout the week and checking on the progress of the children in the classroom/playground.

5 steps to running a successful parents' support group

STEP 5 – Gaining trust and building relationships

This is key if you want to work more intimately with parents.  This can be an uphill battle, due to the feelings parents may have about their own school experiences.  How do school staff begin to break down those barriers and build relationships with parents?  The success of your parent’s support group will depend on this.

In our first session,  we stuck to the 30 minute time slot and  asked parents for their experiences of school.  We ensured we had quotes from other parents that we could use, to demonstrate we  understood and had listened to and more importantly ‘heard’ how some parents may feel negatively about their school experiences.

Once we started, the parents offered their stories and we had a great deal of laughter and also some shocked gasps.  There was emotion in the room, but not highly charged, so it was easy to handle, if you were a skilled teacher or facilitator.  For parents to share these emotions, they must have that key member of staff who they know and reasonably like, as obviously I was new to them.

We kept the session light hearted and asked them for tips on how they managed their children’s behaviour at home. We validated each idea, as far as we could, and then translated it into what we could and couldn’t do at school, both through choice and legally!

We kept it as a discussion forum, then offered 1:1 sessions afterwards if parents wanted to discuss their individual child. Inevitably, it’s the nervous parents who come to see you, rather than the ones you needed to.  However, it meant there were always willing voices to share what strategies they had tried out during the next week.  This allowed us to become facilitators for only part of the session, rather than throughout, and the group began to talk to each other outside of the sessions and share ideas.

successful parent's support group

Each session we focused on a key behaviour issue, rather than a child and asked parents to comment if their child displayed that behaviour, which they inevitably did, and we could then add what we were seeing in school and strategies we used.  We  would explain how we wanted the parents to support us with changing the behaviour. Gradually parents moved from saying their child wasn’t a problem at home, to admitting they were, and often the behaviours were more extreme.  This led to some pro-active joint problem solving between home and the school.


5 steps to running a successful parents' support group

 Contact Paula at PDP to  plan a successful parent’s support group.

Motivation Part 2

Building on the previous blog which looked at Maslow’s study in determining why people go to work. In this article, I’m going to reflect on what makes people work hard willingly and well. In my experience it isn’t money!

In the 1960’s Frederick Hertzberg undertook a study into workplace motivation, and his findings were published under the title ‘One More Time, How Do You Motivate Employees?’ which still hold true today.

Hertzberg identified the following “True Motivators”

1) Achievement

2) Recognition

3) The work itself

4) Responsibility

5) Advancement

6) Personal Growth

In the previous article, we discussed the door to motivation being “locked from the inside”, and that the best managers can have the keys to unlock motivation in others.  As managers and leaders we need to be aware of these keys so that we can empower our colleagues to work hard willingly and well. In practice, what sort of things can we do in addition to communicating effectively with our colleagues?


1) Achievement

A successful manager will ensure staff have the resources and skills necessary to meet or exceed their objectives. It is offering support and monitoring progress towards set goals. A good manager will remove roadblocks, resourcing issues and other trivia to allow their team member to achieve.


2) Recognition

The manager recognises the staff member’s hard work, and acknowledges this privately or sometimes publicly. Teams should be encouraged to celebrate the successful work undertaken by one of their members. This positive environment allows individuals to feel pride and confidence in their work, and will motivate them to continue producing similar results. Manager need to factor time into their diaries to actively do this. Telling someone “that’s what you’re paid for…” is a massive wasted opportunity.


3) The Work Itself

Many of us just love doing the job.   We receive enormous satisfaction from a job done well, (see link below to Dan Pink). There are plenty of people that feel this way about their role, despite the fact that managers may try to interfere in the work process, by controlling or stifling staff efforts. What might happen if managers positively challenged people to really excel? To really do the best they could?


4) Responsibility

A manager’s role to let staff get on with their tasks in a supported and resourced way. Why do some managers keep hold of particular tasks that should or could be delegated to others? Fear? The thought that they might be seen as lazy? Concern the other person might do a better job? Get the keys to motivation out! Delegate appropriate work formally with a clear explanation as to why, and ensure it’s not seen as dumping! If transferred correctly, this level of responsibility could be motivating.


5) Advancement

In the previous blog we examined the idea that status and being seen as an expert were important reasons why some people went to work. Herzberg highlighted the possibility of advancement as a key motivating factor. For many people the challenge of progressing in a team or company, with the chance of promotion, not matter how slim or distant, encourages them to work harder and to engage more fully with tasks. Managers should make staff aware of these possibilities and how individuals can attain them.


6) Personal Growth

It is hugely motivating to be able to do something one week that seemed impossible the week before. Personally, having learnt to plaster a piece of wall a couple of weeks ago, together with having the recognition of this achievement from others inspired me to continue developing my DIY skills. I also felt personal pride in my work. Managers need to recognise individual’s areas of personal or professional development, and offer their praise.


Hertzberg’s True Motivators are as important today as they were in 1968. The best managers and leaders know this and keep the keys close to hand. Everyone’s motivation to engage in work related tasks is slightly different, but an excellent leader can influence by using the six top True Motivators.

Dan Pink develops this further at the link below. My next blog will be about what dissatisfies us most at work and how the good manager can influence them.