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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Maximizing Your Coaching Reach -- Gallup Called to Coach: C A Venkatrgahavan -- S6E21

On a recent Called to Coach, we talked with Gallup-certified Strengths Coach C A Venkatrgahavan, Director, Employee Relations and Policies at Accenture India.









During the interview, Venkat shares his coaching insights. The following is a summary of the conversation between host Pooja Luthra and Venkat. 


Pooja Luthra: Tell us a little about your journey so far with Gallup and others in the work that you do.

Venkat: I was a novice when we started and still feel like a novice. And I think the reason is with every passing day that I use (CliftonStrengths) and the tools we have access to, my discovery of what we can do with it and the opportunities that unfold every day are limitless in the last 36 months of being a coach. It’s been three years of intense application, and I’m feeling very much at peace with myself.

PL: Tell me a little bit about what you’ve been doing. What has been your focus?

V: I coach for the joy of coaching, and draw inspiration from coaching. I coach one-on-ones, I coach teams and I coach groups. My intent has been: 1) How can I maximize my "reach"? 2) How can I use this skill and these tools to get to know many people? I’m also now using this to see how I the “reach” I have can meet my objectives in what I do.

PL: How does (coaching) help you be a better professional in HR?

V: It breaks the barrier of name and face. Also, it’s interesting to know how teams are wired; (you can) learn a lot in four hours. The language from group to group varies, and their drivers vary, and therefore how I add meaning to that relationship changes.

PL: Tell us about the changing perceptions of the idea of coaching. People have thought that it involves improving weaknesses and bridging gaps, but that is not what we are doing. Are people suspicious, excited?

V: For some groups, (instruction involves) teaching the basics of what coaching is and what it is not. But there is a phenomenal change of paradigm here for organizations that absorb the strengths-based philosophy -- in terms of development, (the question is) what am I getting that I can work with? It shifts the paradigm from scarcity to abundance. The entire conversation is no longer about what you don’t have.

PL: What are your favorite Gallup tools?

V: Team Strengths I can’t live without. Q12 I use very often with most teams I meet. I have used them recently for teams that are formed for a short time and have to deliver results, and then take the discussion further and ask how a “new joiner” will feel about the team. Just lead up with 6-7 questions and foster a discussion on team dynamics. (I find that people) bare their souls on these questions; it would take years for people to say things like they say to each other in the absence of these tools.  

The other place where I use this on static teams that are experiencing changes in their environments. There I would focus on the Q12.

It’s important for teams using these tools to articulate, “What am I solving by looking at these results?”

PL: When it comes to strengths, how does it normally (work) for you in the lifespan of these teams? Is it just the one touchpoint or do you see yourself adding value on a recurring basis?

V: The value of one-on-one coaching for both the coach and the person coached, unless it is over a period of hours, is limited to creating a basic understanding of (CliftonStrengths). But how can you apply the Strengths philosophy? If I start coaching in a one-on-one, I contract with that person for at least 6 one-hour sessions, and stay away if the person is not willing to commit to that.

I personally adopt the same philosophy with teams. It can’t be a one-off; (in that case), people go away and it’s all forgotten. I do this once a quarter with teams I choose to engage with, and, aware of my limited time, I carve the time out for people I directly influence and work with. That keeps the conversation alive and everything starts to build around it.

PL: How can we better equip managers to have coaching conversations?

V: I think coaching still needs to be demystified to a lot of people conceptually. It’s important to teach people the skill of coaching. I think with teams, the fun way really works. If you sell food or have fun, people will show up. I have 16 activities for a team. One of the best strategies is to do things with teams.

PL: Anything else coming from a coach of three years that you’d like to tell our group or people who are interested in becoming certified?

V: Personally, it’s been a journey of building my self-awareness. I have discovered myself as a person and have grown using (CliftonStrengths). I am more at peace with myself as a person now than I was three years ago, with age and other variables adding to the mix. For example, I am deeply aware that my Strategic (#1) and my Connectedness (#10) are deeply (interwoven), which is what makes me perceptive and be able, for example, to tell a few seconds before that someone is going to put their foot in their mouth. I am also learning to smooth out the rough edges. My tip to coaches is to have fun with it and see these tools as an outlook on life, and not just clinical tools for a workplace. 

You can start using your CliftonStrengths today:



Venkat is the Director for Employee Relations & Policies for Accenture in India. His roles over the last decade spanned across Recruiting and various aspects of HR Service Delivery in India and the United States. Areas of expertise include staff augmentation & reductions, country and center set up, Change management during large scale acquisitions and program implementation, Training and Coaching.

He is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach since 2015, holds an ACC accreditation with ICF and is a de Bono Thinking Systems certified Lateral Thinking Coach. He teaches High-Performance Coaching at Accenture


Venkat's top five strengths are Strategic, Self-Assurance, Maximizer, Relator and Learner.

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