Coaching and Mentoring™ | Coaching Training Activity

A coach's role is to guide, support, encourage. Not always easy! Hands-on, fun exercise to develop skills in a safe environment.

Learning Objectives

  • Stresses that the key role of the coach is to uncover and guide
  • Stresses that coaching is not about all-knowing, telling gurus
  • Provides a coaching situation in which to practise coaching skills like listening, questioning and choosing words carefully
  • Illustrates the importance of creating a self-discovery scenario
  • Identifies the need to ‘read’ the person being coached

Five-Year Repeat Use Licence

This Northgate training activity comes with a five-year licence for repeat use with up to 12 participants per training session within the licence-holding organisation. Please ask for a discount on multiple licences to use with larger groups. Also includes access to the Northgate Trainerhub (see below for details).

  • Participants

    3-12 (up to four groups of 3 per group)

  • Timing

    1 hour + debrief

  • Uses a computer?

    Not required

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    (normally next working day)


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The Activity

A common fault of would-be coaches is to ‘know’ what needs to be done and then ‘tell’ a person how. In fact a good coach needs more subtle skills – an ability to listen, show empathy and not be judgmental. A coach is not all-knowing nor the ‘expert’.

In this activity, carried out in threes, one person is coached in a unique but simple counting system that uses wooden blocks. A second person, acting as coach, is there to help but under strict guidelines. He/she, for example, cannot touch the blocks. A third person, the observer, checks that rules are followed and notes what happens.

Can the coach actually keep their hands off the blocks, perform a true coaching role and guide the person to a full understanding of the counting system? To many people, coaching doesn’t come naturally – but it’s easier once you know how!

Trainer's Role

Divide the group into threes – a coach, an individual to be coached and an observer. With odd numbers drop the observer.

Before the coaching session starts ask all coaches to form one group, all individuals a second group and all the observers a third.

Issue each group with the appropriate Brief. Allow time to read, discuss and plan for their particular roles in the coaching session.

Re-form in groups of three - coach, individual,observer and begin the coaching session. Allow 30 - 40 minutes.

Near the end give each observer a Test Numbers card to test the success of the coaching session.

Form the groups back into plenary and discuss what happened in each coaching session. List the key learning that emerged.

Issue the Key Points Handout to consolidate the learning.

Trainer’s Notes contain full guidance and a mass of back-up information on coaching skills.

Pack Contents

  • Trainer’s Notes
  • Coach's Brief
  • Individual’s Brief
  • Observer’s Brief
  • Observer's Form
  • Test Numbers Card
  • Set of Wood Cubes
  • Useful Coaching Questions
  • Key Learning Points
  • Part 2 - Coach's Brief
  • Part 2 - Individual's Brief

This activity is for face-to-face classroom use. It is supplied as a hard copy pack and the digital files are supplied via the Northgate Trainerhub.

Northgate Trainerhub

Benefits of the online Northgate Trainerhub include:

  • Easy-to-access resource library which stores all the digital files for the activity in one place
  • Immediate access to upgrades made to the activity over the five-year licence term
  • Access to an online Trainer Forum where you can post questions, share experiences & network with other Trainers
  • Access to free activities and icebreakers
  • Unlimited Trainer logins for all Trainers based at the licence-holding site

Thank you - it worked really well. The art of asking questions rather than telling and active listening really came out well in the reflection part.

Parul Kaushal, L&D Business Partner, Hymans Robertson

Very useful outcomes and positive feedback from delegates who found the session very useful.

Mike Eastwood, Eastwood Consulting

Great fun. 'Coaching and Mentoring' provides excellent hands-on learning.

K. Houseman, Consultant

I love 'Coaching and Mentoring'. It perfectly balances the need to know if someone is being trained, coached or mentored and the challenges that come with trying it for the first time. So difficult to not give direct answers on this which is a great practical activity. Have run it with up to 24 before (2 sets), and worked really well. I have participants who talk to me months later still having nightmares about invisible black blocks! A great learning experience with some fun along the way.

Lisa Gritton, Head of Talent & Development (UK), Nobia AB

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