In this articleI will be describing my personal approach to Coaching and what I mean by the term “presence” within the context of my work. I will then serve to illustrate the relevant models which I tend to rely on such as the GROW Model and other approaches which I have found to be beneficial. An in depth analysis of my strengths and weaknesses will also be discussed and the needs of my coachees discussed.
Finally I will round off the article with a discussion of how I intend to apply my new found approach in practice.
As my industry of driver training is based on the government’s syllabus called “National Driver & Rider Training Standards”, the body behind this is the DVSA or Drivers and Vehicles Standards Agency. The DVSA advocate a client-centred approach. This is where it is useful to introduce Rogerian Humanistic approach of “core conditions”. The first condition is called “empathy” or frame of reference. In this condition, the coach tries to communicate and appreciates the coachees values and beliefs. The second is “congruence”. This comes from the coach in the sense that it helps defeat negative emotional thoughts. The coaches genuine approach enables the coachee to be felt valued. This should radiate to improved self-esteem and subsequently build trust in their judgement.
Finally, there is the UPR or unconditional positive regard. This core condition allows the individual to speak out without the fear of being judged or criticised.
Directive v. Non-Directive
With young people those considered minors under the age of eighteen; a directive approach is used initially. This is because, the coachee or learner needs to grasp the basic car control skills and understand how to operate the ancillary controls in a safe manner. So my coaching presence would be that of a Visible Coach. Before going onto explain what I mean by Visible coach, I will serve to explain the meaning of “presence” within the context of my line of work. My Coaching presence is that I am going to practice my skills that of giving instructions and coaching to my coachee. I need to be clear of what I need to deliver, the manner in which I exhibit my professionalism and how I engage with my coachee. In other words, I need to create a rapport which will be conducive to effective learning. I need to be in the present moment, de-clutter my mind and give my full attention to the fee paying coachee. As I do my job every day, this activity of teaching/coaching becomes a subconscious activity. To put it another way, driving a car becomes a sub-conscious activity for many motorists. However, the more a driver engages in “auto-pilot”, the more risks the driver takes in not planning for developing or fixed hazards. Most road traffic collisions or RTC occur within the first five miles of where the driver lives. This usually occurs at junctions. In the words of Maria Iliffe-Wood (2014) Page 1, “You are focussing all of your attention exclusively on this coaching relationship: that is all that is within, between and beyond the two of you in the wider system….”
With my fleet customers, I adopt a non-directive approach with the coachee. The coachee is sent by the company to improve his driving. This could be due to the coachee being involved in a road traffic accident or in need of refresher training. As the coachee already knows how to drive, I only need to monitor their level of risk on the road. The assessment and training takes place on their choice of roads and venue. My role is to adopt a mixture of trainer and a coach to pass on my safe driving skills. Having assessed their style of driving for about half an hour on various types of roads, I grade them on the following:
(i) Low Risk
(ii) Medium Risk
(iii) High Risk
Mostly all coachees fall between the spectrum of medium to high risk. By providing skills training in defensive driving, most coachees are appreciative of not knowing how certain aspects of their driving were posing a risk not only to themselves, but to other road users.
SOURCE: Musaji T
(1) Evident Coach – in this mode of coaching presence, this correlates to providing fleet driver training to qualified drivers who are in need of further additional training. This usually comes about from the employer, who has identified element of risk(s) in their employee’s style of driving. Or it could be that the employee has recently been involved in a serious road accident. This could have implications for the company under the Corporate Manslaughter Act 1988 and the involvement of the HSE (Health & Safety Executive). The coachee is free to determine the driving route to take, although I do advise to drive on a wide variety of roads including dual carriageways, country roads and town centre driving. I resist the temptation to tell the coachee what to do, rather let the coachee take the exploration. My input is minimal and any intervention is kept to a minimum unless there is an element of high risk hazard involved in which the coachee has failed to identify and deal with it within a specific time frame. We are talking literally in seconds here!
So why Choose Evident coach mode?
I use this mode of coaching presence mode to:
The coachee who has been sent from their employer is already an experienced driver, so I would not be adapting a directive approach in my coaching session. Instructing or using a directive interventionist approach could well damage the rapport. This wold not be conducive to a good coaching relationship. My role within the realm of driver training is to observe how the coachee plans for anticipation of the road ahead. Other areas which I need to observe is the use of speed, use of gears as too many unnecessary changes wastes fuel. Vital seconds could be spent on mirror checks and space management( in other words, the safety bubble such as the two second rule). Also how the coachee reacts to signs and road markings depending on the road, weather conditions and the flow of traffic.
As an instructor and Coach, I was trained to give instructions and not to establish a dialogue with the coachee. However, since Coaching was introduced in April 2014, this has now changed. In my evident coach mode I need to refrain from not telling. This at times can be difficult since eighty percent of my work is related to training Provisional Licence holders.
As the sponsoring organisation is not present during the coaching process, tust needs to be established between myself and the coachee. This could be that the coachee talks about their company in unfavourable terms or more sensitive information that he/she had near miss collisions. Not forgetting that the coachee who come to me for defensive driver training are high mileage drivers and have to meet or exceed targets. These targets are set by the company and at times could be unrealistic given the fact that slow road factors are not built in the equation. By slow road factors this means congestion, road works, variable speed limits and lane closures.
As an experienced fleet coach, I occasionally see flaws in the coachees style of driving which would pose a risk in their driving. The coachees exploration of their driving is consistent with their channels of perception. In other words, because they are now become accustomed drivers, their thought process and awareness is not at an heightened level. The coachees driving is more or less done without much thinking going on. This could be seen from the coachees facial body language in relation to approaching hazards or situational awareness.
(2) Visible Coach
Under the present Road Traffic Act (1988) the minimum legal age that one can learn to drive is currently set at seventeen years of age. This age is ideal to be able to learn in using cognitive and psychomotor skills. Bloom’s taxonomy (a set of classification) is another useful tool to extrapolate and briefly explore:
(a) Affective domain – this deals with attitudes, values, beliefs and emotions
(b) Cognitive domain – deals with the mental capacity and the ability to think
(c) Psychomotor – can do skills, kinaesthetic or hands on approach.
So why choose the Visible Coach mode?
(i) Encourage – As an instructor and a responsible Coach, I owe a duty of care to my coachees which is to offer my full attention, being in the present and de-clutter my mind. Every coachee has the potential to succeed and with careful goal setting and encouragement, the coachee can achieve their goal with my intervention.
(ii) Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR) – As I have already explained this, I will not go into any detail.
(iii) Socratic Questioning – The Socratic approach to questioning through thoughtful and provoking questioning enables the coachee to think for themselves, take process ownership through their self-intervention and exploration. The 5HW’s of What?. When? Where?, Who? And Why? Enables the coachee to explore their ideas in depth. Although the response can vary from coachee to coachee, even though the same topic is studied or practised.
(iv) Elicit feedback – Previously before the introduction of coaching in driver training in April 2014, the sandwich method of feedback was used. The instructor would offer feedback towards the end of the lesson. The instructor would commence with the good points, then the negative points and then the positive points reiterated again. This did not do the trainee any justice. In the sense that it was morale defeating and conjured up negative emotions. The present system is much more client centred and feedback is elicited from the coachee to work out themselves the areas of their strengths and weaknesses.
Since the consultation began in 2010 of bringing about changes to driver training, in particular for the provisional licence holders, the GROW Model was adopted and is widely used amongst the driver instructors fraternity. In fact, I can confidently say, that it is the only model that instructors are aware of. So the GROW Model is what my practical application of delivering driving sessions is based on. The GROW Model was developed some thirty years ago by Sir John Whitmore and his colleagues. The model illustrates the following:
This section of the model is addressed at the beginning. With my coachee, setting a goal is to set a realistic milestone which is both realistic and achievable within a given time scale. Some of the common goal questions which I use with my coachee are:
- What‘s your motivation to be able to learn to drive?
- Over what time frame?
- Imagine you have achieved your full UK Licence;
– How do you feel
– What places would you visit?
– What would your family/friends be saying?
– What would be the benefits?
- How would you describe your goals in a few words?
- What other commitments do you have at the moment?
- How many lessons do you think an average person needs?
- Do you have the funds to pay for your lessons?
- What could get in the way of achieving your goals?
- What network of support do you have?
- What are your options?
- What has worked in the past when faced with a similar dilemma?
- What advice would you give to a friend/family member?
- What steps could you take, and why would this work for you?
- How will you fiancé your lessons?
- What actions will you take to commit to your goals?
- How many hours per week can you commit to private driving practice?
- How confident are you that you are able to commit to your goals?
- “Awareness is knowing what is happening around you
- Self-awareness is knowing what you are experiencing” (Whitmore J, 2009 p36)
- Parent Ego – This is where we are reproducing behaviours from our parents or someone superior. This can be subdivided into critical parent and nurturing parent.
- Critical parent – This is someone who is constantly criticising, shows no empathy or congruent. Autocratic behaviour is the norm and everything is done by the “rule” book. A good classic example is the TSO Highway Code. First came out in 1938, the two common words used throughout the text is “should” & “must” This could be referenced as Parent to Child transaction or Critical parent to Child in TA ego state.
- Nurturing parent – Rogerian’s UPR can be applied in this context. All the positivity’s are displayed such as warmth, encouragement and a healthy psychological growth.
- Child Ego – This is the state when we are care free as we did when we were a child. Qualities exhibited include being obedient, long for affection, immediate rewards for appreciation for our acts. Or it could also go the other way, such as negative transactions, examples such as throwing tantrums, sadness, shouting and screaming. How many times have we witnessed small children screaming in shops if they don’t get their own way?
- Adult Ego – This is the ideal state as it deals with choices before making decisions. This has a healthy relationship with other adults as it discards impulsiveness, approaches problems in a rational way. This ego state considers others as equals and generates respect.
This in essence is the acid test or in scientific terms, the litmus test of their time line. With the coaches intervention and exploration, this sets the parameters of viewing issues from a different perspective. Some of the questions which I ask my coachees are:
Asking reality questions enables the coachee time to think things over in a calm, neutral way without any bias or interventions. The question sets in reality of how to move forwards and puts matters in perspective.
As the concept of reality becomes clearer, the coachee is able to see through the lenses of the options stage. The coaches exploration could be to ask questions:
Will/Way forward or Wrap Up
The “Will” part of the model depicts how the coachee will commit to taking steps in achieving their goals. Some of the questions might be:
If the coachee gives very superficial answers or is not sure, then it’s wise for the Coach to go back and revise the GROW process and clear any obstacles (if possible) and find the most comfortable way forward.
How does this take into account your:
I would say that my strength’s in client centred coaching relationship are:
(i) Permission protocol
(ii) Awareness and presence
Once I have built up a good rapport with my coachee, after eliciting feedback, if there are areas which need further development, then I usually used friendly phrases such as “What should you have done in that particular situation?” This will “…soften the blow and relax people, so that they will be more ready to listen and co-operate with you” (C.Wilson, 2010)
The permission protocol model developed by Carol Wilson is a very useful tool to have in the repertoire of coaching. This model takes into account of giving some control to the cochee of accepting or rejecting the coaches advice or suggestion. In the driver training industry, very rarely does this get rejected. This is because there are safety implications not only for the coachee but other road users. As the road is a shared space and the rules of the Highway Code needs to be adhered for the benefit of all road users. By asking permission, without compromising safey, enables the coachee to be less defensive and hopefully take on transfer knowledge from the coach.
Awareness & responsibility
My level of self-awareness is of a heightened state as I have been doing what I enjoy doing is in driver training. This awareness of heightened elevation now spans nearly a decade. However from a coachees perspective, this skill of awareness needs to be developed. A definition of awareness can be summed up to John Whitmore’s own words:
As a responsible instructor and coach, I try not to follow what the “book” says about how to perform manoeuvers and road procedures using reference points. Every coachee is an individual and the process of self-discovery works wonders in some driving situations. Only and when the coachee has performed a particular procedure in an unsafe way, then the full wrath of the book needs to be applied! Self- awareness is using the mind and body, the mental processing skills, the auditory senses in hearing the engine noise, the smooth kinaesthetic movement of using ancillary controls. For the coachee this is an ideal platform to re-program their mind and body for continuous self-improvement and self-discovery.
Communication between a coach and coachee results in a stimulus either by speaking or acknowledging the other person by their presence. This is often referred to as an transactional analysis or TA. TA was developed by Eric Berne in 1964. TA assumes that we as individuals reside in one of the three mental ego states:
In my work of driver training, the ideal ego state that I constantly need to show is the adult ego state. I may inadvertently go into the critical parent ego state when a coachee is not responding to my set of instructions. This is especially true when at the course of their training a directive approach is taken. However, as the coachees training progresses, as a coach I am supposed to loosen the reigns and adapt a non-directive approach. As a directive approach can make a coachee over reliant on me as a coach to become dependent on my instructions. This phase in terms of TA would be adult to adult which is the ideal ego mental state for coaching. “TA enhances the awareness about our own potential while dealing with others….when such awareness is developed , we not only start listening…but also to our own inner voice” (Shankar R K , 2015 p50)
Needs of my Coachees
The context in which I coach is within one particular field and that is driver training. The needs of my coachees varies. A vast proportion say eighty percent are young people ranging from seventeen years of age to twenty five. Their needs is to acquire a full UK Licence as soon as possible with the minimum spend. Within this group of coahees, I have a group of students who are mildly autistic. This ranges from dyslexia, asperger’s and ADHD (Attention deficit & hyperactivity disorder). The spectrum varies and where it is quite severe, I have had to inform the parents that driving was not for them as the coachee lacked maturity and responsibility to control a mechanically propelled vehicle. To effectively cater for the niche market of coachees, I will in the final section explain how I intend to apply this approach in my everyday work.
Applying new found Coaching tools in practice.
Before commencing my exploration of the needs of my coachees, I would like to discuss a new coaching tool called “Clean Language” Developed by the late David Grove, the techniques are useful in human interaction. This is ideally suited in my line of work. A coaches intervention, bias and any prejudices are refrained from. The exact words are repeated back to the coachee, hence the term “clean” so as to not to contaminate the language. “Clean language is increasingly being used to improve awareness and thinking, change behaviours, and transform performance.” (Cooper L, 2012) In its simplistic form, clean language involves asking specific questions to the coachee. The questions needs to be phrased according to what the coachee has said. With my pupils with mild autism, I try to convey the coachee to use metaphors to describe their experiences or difficulties. For example a pupil struggling with gear changes in selecting the wrong gear, the conversation would go like:
Coachee “ I seem to be struggling with going down from third gear into second gear. It always goes into fourth”
Coach: “What would you like to have happen?”
Coachee: “I would like to get it right first time”
Coach: “Can you think of a metaphor which has a similar layout to the car’s gears?”
The stages of questioning gives the coachee empowerment, stimulates new ideas or creativity to try to work out a workable solution for themselves. Having started to use this approach with all my pupils, not just those with special needs, seems to be working a treat.
The core conditions of my coaching is client-centred and is dictated by the governing body the DVSA. So ultimately I don’t have much choice in this matter since I am responsible for teaching a mechanically propelled machine is governed by the relevant legislation. To make the transaction more meaningful and to facilitate empowerment, I now use the adult to adult ego state whenever I can. However, at times I may ned to revert to being a critical parent just to emphasise the aspect of safety on the road. Although, even in this scenario, I encourage a dialogue with the coachee. The GROW model works well now, and I have added the letter “T” meaning topic as advocated by Miles Downey. The tools of David Grove serves a very useful purpose in not diluting the coahees words and this is one area where I need to take further training to acquire the full repertoire of the skills.
Cooper L “Improved Productivity Language” Management Services. Winter 2012
Iliffe-Wood M “Coaching Presence” 2014 Kogan Page
Shankar R K “Transactional analysis: A new perspective” Human Capital December 2015
Wilson C “Tools of the Trade” Training Journal October 2010
Whitmore J “Coaching for Performance” 2009 Fourth Edition NB Publishing
About the Author: Tariq I Musaji DVSA ADI(car) DipDE, RospaDip, MIMTD
Tariq has been teaching provisional licence holders now for nearly a decade. He also specialises in teaching pupils with mild forms of autism. Other work include fleet work, standards check training. He is also an avid campaigner of road safety signs in his local community. See the following websites: