Using 4MAT in Coaching

Using 4MAT in Coaching

Most of you know about 4MAT as an instructional design tool and rightly so.  It has been transforming the way people teach and train for many years now around the world.  However, the cycle of learning which 4MAT so simply captures is a model that can be used for so much more.

One approach that is used in many workplaces as a form of professional development is coaching for staff at all levels of the organisation.  Any google search will reveal multiple methods and approaches for how to have a coaching conversation with staff.  I wonder though have you ever thought of how 4MAT could provide a structure for this?  No?  Well – here we go!

Following the cycle as always, we begin in Quadrant One – helping the person being coached to clearly articulate the Why? of the situation or issue.  In Q1 the coach is giving the person being coached the opportunity to analyse the situation, thinking deeply about why is this situation occurring? Or why has this issue surfaced as one I need to address at the moment?  At this time the coach should also be listening well and speaking with empathy while asking questions that assist the person being coached to gain clarity from their personal perspective. In Q1 the person being coached should become clear on defining why I have this problem at all.  Taking time to develop an understanding of the why leads us more clearly into defining the real problem – it takes us to the deeper issue.

In Quadrant Two the coach can spend time defining the problem by identifying the facts through asking the right questions – being precise and clear and working only with things the person being coached knows.  By clarifying What? is known it begins to highlight what needs to be found out, what questions need to be asked, what has been done and what needs to be done next.  It clears the path for moving into Quadrant Three where a solution to the problem or a plan for how to approach the problem can be made.  A place we often want to start from but a place that if we spend the time in Q1 & Q2 first we can come up with a broader range of options and hopefully a more productive solution.

The key to Quadrant Three is for the coach not to take over.  In this part of the cycle the coach should be assisting the person being coached to design their own solution or action plan to solve the problem by helping them to cut to the heart of the matter and supporting plans that encourage taking action. Again asking the right questions including helping the person being coached to honestly reflect on whether they have the will or the capacity to do the actions being discussed are all a valuable part of being in the How? space.

Finally the Quadrant Four place is the opportunity to consider the consequences or implications of the action and think about ways of managing what happens next.  This will allow the person being coached to refine their plan or prepare themselves for the reactions that others might have to the action they are taking.  Q4 or the What If? space is where feeling is also strong, so it is a good time to check if the person being coached feels capable and confident to proceed with the plan they devised.  The coach’s role here is to provide encouragement and support to stimulate the person being coached into taking action prior to the next coaching session.

As a coaching session is a learning experience, using the 4MAT cycle during coaching can help to reveal the core of the problem and stimulate more creative solutions to solve it instead of rushing into judgement on what the problem is.  Where else have you used 4MAT as a framework?

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