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Improvement Coach Training – knowing me, knowing Q

On 4 July I took part in the West of England AHSN improvement coach programme, which helped Qs to draw out the “A-ha!” moments in conversations with colleagues. This blog outlines some of the learning from the course.

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My aim for the training was to pick up tips and skills to improve my support to our Health Integration Teams. With such busy working lives, having meaningful conversations with colleagues that draw out their own potential to solve problems is crucial. The improvement coach training from the West of England AHSN, expertly delivered by Sue Mellor and Dee Wilkinson, certainly helped build skills to have more of these dialogues.

What I learnt
We began with some self-reflection – what kind of learners were we? Using the Honey and Mumford learning styles, we grouped up into ‘Activists’, ‘Pragmatists’, ‘Theorists’ and ‘Reflectors’. True to type, those with an ‘activist’ preference were quickly away with scribbling down ideas, while my fellow ‘reflectors’ and I pondered on why we had chosen our style. Not only did this activity help us share how we’d like the course to run, it gave insights that would inform our coaching conversations. It was also a great forerunner for some work our team are doing with learning power profiles.

After a helpful primer on coaching theory, it was time to get coaching!
In a rotating trio of ‘coach’, ‘coachee’ and ‘observer’ we tackled real issues Qs were facing and tried the GROW model (Goal, Reality, Options, Will) to work through them. This gave a helpful structure for the conversation, though we found ourselves chopping and changing the sections to suit the conversation’s flow. I got some helpful pointers on improving my coaching (taking more time to follow-up threads, rather than moving straight to the next topic), as well as some great questions from my coach that helped with challenges on a project I’m working on. From the feedback, it was clear that there were plenty of the prized ‘A-ha!’ moments of insight around the room. There’s more about the model in this helpful demo video from South West Coaching Ltd.

Next, talking through tips for giving feedback, effective listening and asking smart questions saw pens flurrying as new ideas and Qs’ experiences were shared. In a new trio we practiced manoeuvring conversations with questions that would take us into detail, up to strategy and along to another topic. The day ended with a teaser for the CLEAR model (Contracting, Listening, Exploring, Actions and Review). A bit more on that here.

Unfortunately, one of the barriers discussed in a recent #WEQs twitter chat – time – meant that I couldn’t attend Day 2! However, I’ve made a commitment to catch up with our trainers and make an action plan to put the learning into practice. Also, I made sure to do my homework – here’s my choice of quote about change:

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama

What next
We’re currently working with the West of England AHSN colleagues to bring together our Health Integration Teams with West of England Qs for a masterclass later this year. Hopefully this will give a chance for more mutually beneficial conversations – watch this space for more details.

Look forward to any other comments from fellow Qs on the course below or on twitter @oliverwatson288

Perhaps you can fill people in on highlights from day 2?


  1. Apologies - links not working at the moment, will get updated soon!

  2. In the meantime, here are the links:

    Health Integration Teams:

    Honey and Mumford Learning Styles:

    Learning Power profiles:

    Demo video on GROW model:

    Link re CLEAR model:


  3. Thank you for this, it's started me off on a new thread of reading!

  4. I had so many 'A-ha' moments on this course Oliver! Great to read your reflection on the course.

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