Coaching and Motivation

KCS is a significant culture change for most organizations. We are attempting to shift the culture away from recognizing people for what they know, and toward recognizing people for their ability to learn, collaborate, and share. KCS Coaches play an integral role in making this shift, both by helping knowledge workers integrate the new KCS skills, and by encouraging conversations that foster a more collaborative environment.

I had the good fortune to attend a KCS Coach Workshop taught by Dr. Beth Haggett last week and it clarified for me how powerful a good coaching program is for organizations who use them as a time for connection and not solely correction.

When we talk about “getting knowledge workers to do KCS,” we often reference Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Pink talks about the three things that motivate people who are doing intellectual work, all of which are incorporated into the KCS methodology:

  • Autonomy, or a sense of control over what I’m doing. The ability to publish externally without someone else reviewing my work is one example.
  • Mastery, or the opportunity to get better at something. The KCS licensing model allows people to move through and be recognized for different stages of mastery.
  • Purpose, or alignment to something bigger than the self. Understanding why we’re doing KCS, and the communication of and alignment to a vision are critical components of continued motivation to engage in KCS.

We can undo a lot of the motivation baked into the methodology based on the way we approach our coaching program. When we see a coaching session as an opportunity to tell a knowledge worker what they’re doing wrong, we work in direct opposition to these three motivating factors. Imposing help, as opposed to having a conversation, diminishes the knowledge worker’s opportunity to ask their own questions – removing both their sense of autonomy and their opportunity for mastery. Giving a knowledge worker all the answers – in the absence of demand – erodes the purpose of a coaching session. If you’re going to do it for them, why should they change their behaviors?

A coaching session is an excellent opportunity to practice seeking to understand before we seek to solve. Beginning a coaching session with two or three things a knowledge worker is doing well, and then asking what they’d like to get better at, opens the door to sustained engagement – not only with KCS, but with the company culture as a whole.

For more information about the KCS Coach Workshop, a KCS Aligned service created by Dr. Beth Haggett, contact Beth or KCS Certified Trainers listed here.

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