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Scaling gets the coachee to think more deeply in the areas being scaled and it allows for increases in self-awareness. For the coach, it provides some valuable insight into the coachee, their situation and thinking.
Using scaling in coaching is a powerful yet simple tool. It breaks a situation down to a very basic form, usually a number. Then it allows depth to be drawn from this number and making the number almost three dimensional. Using it well takes a little bit of practice.
Scaling in its simplest form is about getting the coachee to measure or provide a rating to a particular question. The scale used is most commonly 0-10, as this provides sufficient room to provide some variance. Some coaches may also use colour and temperature as measures.
Establishing the current state
The starting point with the coachee is to understand where they are current at. For example, by asking them:
Given what you said you wanted to achieve in your session today, on a scale of 1-10 how are you performing at the moment?
You shared that you weren’t confident in speaking to one senior manager. On a scale of 1-10, how confident do you currently feel when speaking to them?
This gives you and them a real time measure of their thoughts, feelings, experiences.
Going beyond the number
Getting the coachee to identify a number on the scale which represents their current state is straightforward. The coach is then looking to tease out from the coachee more depth. Their thoughts, feelings, perceptions, experiences and examples beyond the number is where the real value comes from…
- Okay, so you said that you were a 4 in relation to your confidence when speaking with the senior manager…
- Tell me what makes it a 4 for you, what is happening?
- What feedback have you had to suggest you might be a 4?
- What does it feel like being a 4 and the reasons?
- Tell me about the behaviours are you demonstrating around this situation that makes you a 4? What are you thinking about as a 4?
- The reasons you are a 4 as opposed to a 6 are what? What’s different for you?
Exploring the number allows the coachee to assess their situation, position, amount of change, happiness and provides a working foundation.
Some coachees may think negatively about themselves. When scaling is used they might give themselves a low score, perhaps 3 or 4. The coach then can prompt a conversation with them.
‘You said earlier you weren’t very confident in this situation but you have given yourself a 4, so what things are you confident about?’
If they weren’t confident or weren’t very good they would have given themselves a 0 or 1. So the scaling can be used to challenge the perceptions the coachee may have of themselves. This furthers self-awareness in the coachee and will challenging their thinking.
Scaling can be used in several ways according to Peter Szabo
Understanding the future state
Having understood and explored the current state the coach can begin to develop an understanding of where the coachee wants or needs to get to, or their future state.
The future state could be by the send of the session, weeks or months, as defined by the coachees particular goal.
So you said you were a 4, moving forward, in the next 6 months where would you like to be on the scale in this situation?
From here we can again go beyond the number:
You said you would like to be an 8, if you were an 8…
- How would things be different?
- What would be happening?
- Tell me, what things would you be now doing?
- What would you have as an 8 that you don’t have now?
- How would others be describing the situation if you were an 8?
- What feedback would you be getting from others about your performance or behaviours around speaking to this senior manager?
- How would you be feeling as an 8?
- What would you be thinking as an 8?
The coach can use the information provided here to help provide some measures of change at the end of the session or coaching assignment.
At the start of the coaching you said you were a 4, and you would like to be at 8, and if you were, you would be seeing … happening, where are you now at on the scale?’
- What has now changed for you?
- How are you thinking and feeling?
When to use
Scaling in coaching should be used periodically through a coaching session, but not overused. It can used at the start of a series of coaching sessions and then at the end of the whole. It can be used at the initial goal stage. During fact finding to measure impact. Or, at the end of the session to measure changes the coach has made during it.
If you have found this resource useful, contact Abintus to see how we can further support you or your organisation in its coaching and leadership activities.