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  • Writer's pictureTilo Schwarz

Spot-on communication for Target- and Current Condition

by Tilo Schwarz | Tips for the Kata Coach | Episode 3

In this article you'll read about a structure, beginner coaches can use to establish spot-on communication for Target Condition and Current Condition.


Remark for new readers: This is #3 of a series of articles with hands-on tips for better coaching. It is based on my "Handbook for the Kata Coach" about Denise, who has taken on her first management position as a department manager with a small assembly team at PowerPump Inc. Denise intends to develop her team through coaching. Read Episode 1 to get into the story.


Denise starts her daily shop-floor walk in the morning. David, the production manager she is reporting to, is joining her again today to observe her coaching cycles as a 2nd coach. Denise has asked him to measure the time for each phase of the coaching cycle. They want to test their new approach of observation to find out in which stage of the coaching cycle Denise is struggling with as a coach. Denise also hopes that in doing so, David will be able to give her more helpful feedback.

After Denise’s coaching cycles with Mark and Joe, her two team leaders, David is indeed able to give her more accurate feedback: „I have observed that in both coaching cycles you needed about three to four minutes for the first phase (about Target Condition). From your body language, I perceive that you quickly become impatient during this phase. What exactly is the problem?

Denise replies: „Mark and Joe always explain the challenge and each aspect of their target conditions in a lengthy way. Despite me knowing these details very well as we talk about their target conditions in our coaching cycles every day.“

David asks: „So what would be a good way of answering question 1 from your point of view? “

Denise thinks for a while, then replies: „Well when I started coaching Mark and Joe, I realized that they were struggling to focus on their improvement targets besides their daily tasks. So at that time, it was helpful to start our coaching cycles with a recap of the challenge and discussion of the target condition. Now they do well, and it would be sufficient for me if they only mention the impact indicator and the current focus of their efforts by telling me their target value for the process indicator. In doing so, we would have a clear reference to evaluate the impact and progress of their improvement efforts in phase 2 (about Actual Condition).“

David and Denise decide to test this in the coaching cycles tomorrow. Walking back to her office Denise thinks: the same structure also applies for phase 2. The information about the actual condition has to relate to the impact- and process indicator.

Sitting down at her desk she pulls out the notebook she calls „My management handbook“ and starts writing:

A spot-on answer for question 1: „My target condition is (target value of impact indicator) therefore we have to reach (target value process indicator).

A spot-on answer for question 2: „The actual condition is (current value of impact indicator) because the (process indicator) is at (current value process indicator).

Denise realizes that the two words „THEREFORE“ and „BECAUSE“ are keywords in these sentences and underlines them. She decides to ask Mark and Joe if they could always use these two key words in their answers for phases 1 and 2.

In the following days, Denise realizes that phase one and two of her coaching cycles take less time and Mark and Joe‘s answers are much more precise.

Now Denise finds herself struggling in phase three when they talk about the obstacles. She thinks about her trick „stand on red - walk on green“ and her experience with having to jump back to a prior stage of the coaching cycle. Maybe, she thinks, if I struggle in any one phase, the cause originates prior to that. So if I struggle when talking about the obstacles, maybe this is already caused when we discuss the actual condition. However, what exactly is causing it?

She asks David to observe phases two and three more closely. When he does so David realizes something interesting.

Next week: Read what exactly David has observed.

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