3 tips for building trust as a coach: By Mike Fleetham

Posted by Rachel Finch on 4 March, 2015

3 tips for building trust as a coachMike fleetham Lesson Observation Giving Feedback

By Mike Fleetham

Coaching is a proven means of maximising the potential of teachers. Whether it's used to enable good teachers to become great or support struggling teachers to improve, coaching should be part of your staff-development strategy.

However, for coaching to be truly effective and a worthwhile endeavour there has to be a level of trust between the coach and coachee. As a coach, how do you achieve this?

1. First think about what you mean by trust

Stephen Covey can help us think this through. He proposes two dimensions to trust: willingness and analysis. Looking at the extremes of each dimension we get 4 combinations. For example, high willingness with low analysis makes us gullible: we're open and accepting but forget to think. With high analysis and low willingness we are suspicious: we over think and are not ready to risk opening up.

Covey recommends 'smart trust' in which we are willing AND analyse. We are prepared to open up to someone but we think first.

Covey also suggest 4 characteristics that increase our trustworthiness: credibility (are we believable in our role); results (do we have a proven track record); integrity (do we do what we say and say what we believe); and intent (do we have worthy goals).

2. Next talk to your coachee about trust

Before coaching begins, discuss trust with your coachee. What do they think trust is? What do they need from you to develop a trusting coaching relationship. Build this discussion into a coaching contract - the rules, behaviours and boundaries for your coaching work. This individual contract can be an extension of a whole school coaching contract.

3. Finally, keep trust on the agenda

Be continually mindful of the meaning and value of trust for your coaching relationship. If you or your coachee feel that the trust you have built is under threat - from either of you or from a third party, then talk about this immediately. Always refer back to the shared understanding of trust that you have developed and the coaching contract that's in place. If you make a mistake, admit it and learn. Use a test of trust to make trust stronger.

How have you developed trust in your coaching relationships? Let us know in the comments below.

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