Coaching: The Impact of Powerful Questions

At BCcampus, we have been using coaching as a way of helping each other work through challenges. Developing curiosity about our colleagues’ challenges enables us to offer support while helping them to grow and learn.

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

Come and experience something that has disrupted and transformed our workplace culture and even our personal lives. In our sessions, participants learn about using questions as a way of supporting colleagues’ growth through John Whitmore’s GROW model. The GROW model is an easy way to introduce coaching by using the framework to identify and set goals (G), reflect on the current reality (R), revisit options and opportunities (O), and set out with a plan that will (W) be done to achieve goals.

Participants will then have an opportunity to practice this new learning in a facilitated coaching circle, in which instructional challenges are brought forward and peers offer reflective questions to each other to find solutions.

Our virtual coaching event on April 29, 2020 was facilitated by Mary Burgess and Robynne Devine, with co-facilitators Isabeau Iqbal and Tracy Roberts.


Thoughts from Facilitator Mary Burgess

Having been lucky enough to spend ten years working at Royal Roads University (RRU), I’ve been familiar with the practice of executive coaching for many years. As a new leader, and then as a more seasoned one, I’ve worked with executive coaches like Tammy Dewar to help me solve challenges, some huge and some not as huge. I have never once regretted taking the time to sit down with a coach. And I tell my coaches the same thing I tell my masseuses: dig deep! I want to have my deeply held beliefs identified and challenged. I want someone who can get me to dissect my thinking to see what’s holding me back from making a decision, figuring out an HR problem, or making a project plan for something totally overwhelming. All that is to say, I am a big believer in coaching as a path to self-awareness and growth.

As a person who has direct reports, I wanted to get better at helping people solve their own problems. I wanted to get out of advice-giving mode and into a growth mindset for my staff. My own experience as a coachee was helpful for this, but I needed more than that. To that end, I’ve done quite a bit of learning. I’ve taken courses from Royal Roads and the Justice Institute and done a lot of informal learning, too. After all of that, I really wanted to create a coaching culture at BCcampus, one in which we could enable each other by being curious and asking good questions. Unfortunately, I had neither the capacity nor the knowledge to do this. While I was using the techniques in my one-on-ones with staff, I wasn’t able to roll it out as a program across the organization.

Enter the fabulous Robynne Devine! Robynne was finishing up a master’s degree at RRU, and coaching was a big part of the coursework. She needed to do a project as part of her learning and approached me with the idea of establishing a coaching community at BCcampus. I was absolutely thrilled.

Late in 2018, Robynne held a peer coaching community of practice (CoP) orientation for staff, and then put out a call for interest in participating. In our CoP, each participant is provided a coaching toolkit and completes a code of ethics prior to the start of the coaching round. Robynne pairs up participants, who then alternate roles each week between coach and coachee. Each round lasts about three months, which gives enough time for partners to work on goals and learn the GROW model while building connections with other BCcampus staff. As part of the CoP, Robynne leads a coaching circle midway through the round, and then again at the very end. The coaching circle has been a favourite activity at BCcampus, with people not currently participating in CoP often taking part.

Overall, it’s working great! Now that we’ve done four rounds, I can definitely see a difference in how we interact with each other. We are more curious and more likely to ask questions than give advice. We are better listeners. We’ve also brought executive coach Sherry LeBlanc in to work with our leadership team to further develop our coaching culture and do it in a more systematic way that tracks our baseline and progress. 

Join us for the next coaching session:

Coaching: The Impact of Powerful Questions 
June 11 from 2 – 4 pm PDT 
Registration is now open!