When I was going through the certification process to become a coach, I was assigned a supervisor who listened to my taped conversations with clients and evaluated my performance. I understand the value in this activity and couldn’t recommend a better process. But, the grading component had me nearly catatonic. My fear of receiving a check minus was so profound I became deaf to whatever good things the supervisor said.

Being a glutton for punishment, but also an avid learner, I’m coming up to another supervisory session soon for coaching teams and relationships–the newest category I’m adding to my repertoire. I’ve been present for my colleagues’ evaluations, and they’re not that hard to hear. But something about being graded has me shaking.

Here’s what I’m going to do about it. I’m going to make a request. Instead of check, check plus and check minus for the skills that are present, well done, or handled incorrectly or marginally, I’m going to offer the supervisor my own grading system. Instead of a check I want to hear “yes”–that skill was used during the coaching. Instead of a check plus implying that there was a higher level of skill than merely usage I’d like to hear “well done!” And, if a skill was mishandled or not handled with proficiency,  instead of check minus I’d prefer to hear, “not really”.

I know! It’s all semantics, but how things are worded has impact. Who doesn’t prefer hearing that there are ”challenges’ rather than ‘problems’?

By the way, the New York Times has instituted its own new evaluation scoring for restaurants. Now, instead of Excellent, Satisfactory, etc., the ratings are: Don’t Miss!, Worth It, In a Pinch and Don’t Bother.

Reading those inspired me to create my own system, too.

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