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Co-Active Coaching At CONNECT by Master Coach Juhree Zimmerman

CONNECT Communities is a fascinating and exciting place. When my colleague, Mary Ellen Sanajko, and I first met Patti Flaherty, CONNECT's Executive Director and the leadership team, we knew they were amazing, special people with a huge vision and lots of ideas to improve the lives of people with brain injury.

We embarked on a strategic planning process which included interviews with residents, families, staff, stakeholders and funders.  We created a strategic plan for CONNECT.  One of our recommendations was for formal coaching training for their leaders and staff, to round out the coaching approach they had established from the beginning at CONNECT Lake Country, and had introduced to CONNECT Langley.  They agreed!

Two coach training workshops were held for leaders and staff in late October—one at each community, with all leaders attending both.  The leaders attending underscored their commitment to the development of a “coaching culture” at CONNECT, and they are all participating in follow up groups.  The Coactive coaching model was introduced, along with basic coaching skills.  The groups learned very quickly and are embarking on a coaching practice schedule which includes meeting bi-weekly in triads, coaching each other and coaching and mentoring selected staff, along with skill-building teleclasses between November and the next coaching workshop in about 4 months.

The “coach approach” is based on the belief that everyone (yes, everyone) is naturally creative, resourceful and whole, and it is the coach’s job to evoke transformation.  These words resonated with all the staff, as they are very much in sync with CONNECT's philosophy and beliefs.  Learning basic coaching skills gives staff more access to powerful questions, their own curiosity and increases their trust that answers come from the coachee, whether it is a resident, colleague or family member.

Some of the quotes from staff after the workshop were:

“There is a lot more to listening than the average person thinks.”

“People are capable of uncovering and working through a lot in a short time when they feel empowered and listened to.”

“The future at CONNECT looks brighter because of what we were taught.”

“I learned how to listen without judgment and I liked the positive attitudes.”

“Coaching promotes a consistent communication style.”

“I learned how to better uncover people’s motivations through powerful questions.”

“Coaching will help us grow and be successful as an organization.”

As a coach and trainer, it is delightful to experience such enthusiasm at all levels in the organization!  I know CONNECT is on the path to great growth as an organization and as a key influencer in the world of brain injury.


Juhree Zimmerman, R.N., B.Sc.N, M.Ed. (Counselling Psych.), C.P.C.C., O.R.S.C.C., M.C.C.

Juhree Zimmerman founded Strategy for Synergy as part of her own vision to transform lives through leadership development, improving relationship skills and individual growth. By combining her background in mental health and health care administration with her counseling and coaching skills, she is fulfilling her personal dream of changing organizational culture by improving the quality of working life for leaders, employees, people served by the organization and their families.