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MI Coaching: Tool #2

MI Coaching: Tool #2

MI Coaching, plus some of its often-overlooked roles

MI Coaching is of course a big part of what we do here at JSAT, and this is because we believe in it so much. It also happens to be one of the key drivers for effective implementation of any new skill within an organization. So we get just a tad excited about this subject!

In this article, we define “coaching” as the one-on-one meeting between an individual who is learning MI and an MI coach who is proficient in MI and trained to support new MI practitioners to recognize emerging skills and develop their own unique style and proficiency for using them. Ideally these meetings continue over time as the new practitioner increases skill and confidence.

Coaching Role #1: Making the most of the initial training

Though not often overlooked as some other aspects of coaching that we talk about later, it is still important to recognize coaching as a key driver for successful implementation. One of coaching’s biggest roles within the implementation process is to ensure that the initial training does not fade away in the memories of those who attended. We’ve all had the experience of taking a two-day training, feeling inspired about applying the new skill in our jobs, then finding the skill binder some months later, dusty on a shelf because we got so busy we didn’t have time to return to it.

The presence of a coach and the structure of regularly scheduled meetings address this gap in the implementation process. Rather than get dusty on some shelf, the training manual is pulled from the shelf time and again as the new practitioner practices skills in preparation for his/her next coaching meeting. All of that money invested in initial training is actually put to use rather than going down the drain.

Coaching Role #2: The power of relationship

One of the most powerful, and perhaps one of the most overlooked roles of coaching is the development of the coaching relationship between the coach and new practitioner. As we step into any new skill, we are vulnerable and uncomfortable because we inevitably need to stumble as we experiment and discover what works and what does not. Imagine having your own personal cheerleader – one who not only cheers you on, but who is also genuine with you in identifying where you can stretch and develop your skills to bring out the best in your ability. With coaches walking alongside them in their learning process, new practitioners feel seen, understood, celebrated and supported to hone their strengths plus work through their challenges. All by someone who really gets to know the practitioner’s unique style and whose job it is to identify what will best support his/her learning process. In a real sense, the relationship is the message – you are not alone in the enterprise.

Coaching Role #3: Developing and celebrating individual skill and style

And speaking of unique style, this is yet another role that coaching plays in the implementation of a new skill within an organization. Learning new skills requires adaptation – oftentimes new practitioners must adjust a mindset or a belief about what works in order to truly embody the heart of the new skill. This is very true in the case of MI. It is not uncommon for practitioners to walk away from a training wondering how they can fit this skill in with the logistics of their job and/or their personal style and approach. A coach’s role is to help the new practitioner recognize how MI fits with his/her unique personality and approach to interviewing. The key here is that the answer is different for everyone, and that is why individualized attention from a coach who gets to know the practitioner is so helpful.

Of course, there’s so much more to say about coaching, but let’s leave it for now to think about these often-overlooked key roles that coaching plays. And if you would like to talk more about coaching with those of us who love thinking about it and doing it, please contact us at


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