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Informal interviews help identify opportunities for professional growth

On Leadership - Transformation Stories
Coaching Tools in Action - Informal Interviews

Business team receiving feedbackInformal interviews are used early in a leadership development engagement. The coach interviews about 8-10 people in the client’s work environment (peers, direct reports, bosses and even clients) and provides a themes report.

The report, which doesn’t reveal the identity of the interviewee to maintain confidentiality and allow for more honest feedback, provides an overview of the client’s key strengths and development needs.

Feedback provides exciting insights

I am working on informal interviews for a client at the moment and the feedback is so helpful and exciting to me as the coach. Cheryl is a SVP in a fast-paced business, with sales, marketing and account management all reporting to her. The feedback on her work and commitment to the business is incredibly positive. The interviews are providing excellent examples of how her tenacity and passion both supports and challenges her.

It is also clear that everyone senses that she needs to work at a higher level to make the best contribution to the company. To get there, she must teach and share her vast knowledge with others, so she can have time to work on more strategic concerns without being bogged down by the day-to-day tasks.

The importance of asking the right questions

I usually start the feedback process after a few coaching sessions, so the interview questions can target specific areas of feedback for the client. In Cheryl’s case, we first uncovered that she works incredibly quickly, thriving on providing innovative solutions on the fly.

I am now using the interviews to understand to what degree it poses challenges in her role, so we can find the best strategies to help her make the most of her innate talents.

The feedback report will be robust and will help change how she approaches her role. It could even be life changing for how Cheryl works and thinks about herself as a professional.

Takeaway

Informal interviews are a powerful tool in the coaching process because they provide both coach and client with crucial information that would not otherwise be available. This can make the difference between good and outstanding end results.

How could this process transform how you lead?

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