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Coaching tips from the coach’s pit

May 16, 2008

A while back, I had a conversation with John Munce, The Tatham Group’s Deployment Executive about what it was like to coach Tatham Process Masters. Munce, who is a process master himself, has been teaching our clients at Wachovia how to apply the Tatham Method to several of their divisions.

TG: How would you define your role as Process Master?
JM: I work with facilitators and team champions to make sure they are following the Tatham Methodology. My job is to work with teams, motivating them, coaching them to make systematic changes and how to sustain these changes.

TG: What are some of your goals as Process Master?
JM: I don’t think we’ve successfully deployed the Tatham Systematic Method within a company until a person walks in and finds Tatham on the wall – both literally and figuratively. The question is how do you create these tools for people to use? How do you build it into the culture? One of the challenges is getting people to actually do something. Often they just want to talk and convince themselves it’s the right thing to do. But you don’t learn to play tennis by talking about it. You have to just do it.

TG: Do you have any tips for current or aspiring Process Masters?
JM: First, it’s important to remember that Boot Camp is a process and a life cycle. It has a predictable outcome. People who go through it have predictable emotions, experiences and reactions. Boot Camp is a flow – the pieces are not isolated.

Second, you’ll be a better coach when you’re not an expert in the subject matter.

Third, keep in mind that coaching is a skill and a method. Historically, it’s been treated as a craft, rather than a step-by-step process. It’s important to follow your checklist even as a coach.

Fourth, the money is in the implementation. Once you have the solution, it needs to be very quickly implemented otherwise you will lose momentum.

Finally, your biggest challenge will be coaching process champions because there are two types of champions. The first type is the high-ranking champion. People will be less likely to tell them the truth, so it’s your job to keep them on track about execution. The second type of champion is one that is frequently hesitant because he or she doesn’t feel empowered enough to make a change and they’re worried about it personally. You need to be there to support both types of champions, but you’ll have to find different techniques for both.

A little bit about John…

For over 30 years, John Munce has studied how people think and work in groups. He can play a variety of roles—chairman, sponsor, participant, catalyst, facilitator, teacher, expert—each with a shrewd understanding. He has designed and led over a hundred sessions for problem-solving, process design, product development, six sigma quality, reengineering, planning, budgeting, and strategy. He’s said to be magical at turning conflicting positions into a common approach a team can embrace. His trademark “twisted thinking” brings fresh perspectives to old problems. Colleagues say he can find useful connections across all sorts of topics, tasks, teams, and issues. After one product development session, a business owner said, “My head is spinning with ideas I never would have considered without you.”