The Coaching Process

Excited, energized, motivated, eager, enthusiastic – all words to describe how a nurse manager or director feels about the opportunity to advance or transition into a new leadership role. Conversely, there can be moments of angst, indecision, and uncertainty as unknown situations call for untried solutions. And once the on-boarding process and close connection with a formal preceptor is concluded, new leaders can at times feel uncertain about next steps in their role transitioning process. Often new managers question their decisions but frequently there are limited trusted colleagues or mentors to assist in difficult problem solving circumstances. These are the times when nurse executives seek additional support engaging outside assistance in order to ensure the new leader is successful. In steps the professional coach; a seasoned nurse leader who can assist with the next stage of essential role transitioning.

The Kirby Bates Associates coaching program is designed around several key elements and incorporates face to face site visits geared towards the exploration of skillset proficiencies. An intake assessment is conducted by the coach and includes one on one meetings with the new leader; observations in the clinical environment; interviews with peers, staff, physicians and superiors using open ended behavioral questions; and the manager’s completion of the American Organization of Nurse Executives “Nurse Manager Skills Inventory Tool.”

The interview and observation elements are the most pivotal portions of the program as they evaluate the new leaders valued strengths as well as incorporate productive criticism. The synthesis of these collected data elements results in the compilation of a written initial assessment report, which outlines findings and next steps, along with a timeline, of the coaching process. This report is reviewed with the hiring manager and nurse executive as well as the new leader. An agreed upon course of action is determined and progress is measured during the six month coaching engagement.

Many times, the new manager will identify the business and financial aspects of their new role as the most important element of focus. But more frequently, it is the relationship development, political awareness, and communication elements that require needed intervention. One way to manage the disconnect between the manager’s personal assessment and those obtained during the intake assessment is to summarize solicited responses to the open ended interview questions in a simple spreadsheet outlining overarching themes. This diminishes the personal aspect of the message and focuses the work on general perceptions and desired results. Confidential coaching, competency education, and supportive communication are provided by the coach in person and also using web based distance learning mechanisms.

Learning modules are tailored for specific competencies and human resource elements. Action learning is employed allowing the new leader to gain confidence and alter their style as needed. Coaching suggestions are always delivered in a productive exploratory manner supporting introspection and the use of appreciative inquiry. Positivism is the basis for all learning interventions supporting better understanding of complex problems. Implementation of mutually agreed upon actions ensuring the smooth transition of the Nurse Manager includes the development of unit operational plans, understanding roles, timelines and milestones of project management, and demonstration of foundational and critical thinking skills.

As the coaching engagement continues, progress in competency achievement is measured and discussed with the manager. Concise updates are provided to the nurse executive, and hiring manager when applicable, and course adjustments are made along the way. At the conclusion of the six month engagement, a final written report is developed by the coach and shared with all parties. Recommended strategies for the continued success of the Nurse Manager and ongoing confidential consultation and support by the coach are offered, and frequently taken advantage of. A coaching evaluation tool is completed by the manager and also shared with all parties.

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