ICF MCC performance evaluation angst – what not to do

When you have the required experience to obtain a mastery designation from one of the big associations, you know what you are doing. You have developed your own coaching style and feel comfortable in your skin. Hopefully, you have engaged in supervision or mentor coaching along the way and are also aware of your own way of learning.

And now you ask of yourself to “jump through a hoop” in order to get a “badge” for your mastery level. You want to be recognized by the profession for your achievements. This situation may not feel comfortable. Let me mention some of the stumbling blocks that candidates can experience on their road to a mastery designation, especially on the road to an ICF MCC designation. EMCC relies mainly on reflection and contribution to the profession – in some ways, this is an easier task.

In the ICF performance evaluation, you need to submit 2 recordings coaching in an “ICF MCC” way. There are criteria, the MCC BARS, that need to be met. For some candidates, these are criteria that fit their coaching style – others have to adapt.

Arguing with the system

One of the ways in which you can trip yourself up is to spend a lot of energy arguing with the ICF system. Some of our participants spent months trying to prove that the ICF way of recognizing mastery is wrong. And while this may be (partially) true, it is not a wise way to spend your energy. Would you argue against the traffic rules you have to learn in driving school? Would you argue against the grammar of another language that you are trying to learn? No. As frustrating as it may be, it is what it is. The faster you can accept that you are now trying to demonstrate what ICF assessors need to see, the earlier you can start learning how to do that. When you are trying to produce an ICF performance evaluation recording, the best query is: “How do I demonstrate the ICF mastery criteria in my own way?”

Thinking you have to start from scratch

The second spanner that you can throw in the works of your MCC accreditation is to think that you will have to do everything differently. When confronted with the first feedback (which we always deliver in a very appreciative way), candidates often exaggerate the amount of adaptations they need to make. Instead, build on what you have! Look at the “missing” competency and ask yourself in which ways you show this competency, what would fit your style and by all means, keep all the stuff going that is already compatible with the ICF MCC BARS.

Listening to the Charly on your shoulder while you are coaching

In this learning process, you are moving from “unconscious competence” via “unconscious incompetence” (the blissful state before you started wondering about ICF Core Competencies) to “conscious incompetence”. That may very well throw you off your coaching game. While you are coaching, a little Charly (that’s what mine is called, maybe yours has a different name) creeps onto your shoulder and is telling you all sorts of things about your coaching while you are doing it. And as it will happen with any other form of performance, out goes your flow, your presence and everything that makes you masterful. A violinist will not practice on stage and neither should you be practicing while you are coaching. You practice before and after. Maybe you can design one experiment to get better at something, but that should only be one intention that you can hold firmly before a coaching. During the coaching: focus on the client, do your best! Practice with the people in your peer groups, in a class, with colleagues – don’t practice when you are recording a performance evaluation recording.

The mindset will really help you and it is always good to have a peer group to help support you with developing and maintaining a learning habit. Below, you can find information about the more technical aspects.

Being too attached to your tools

As a candidate for an MCC credential, you are probably very well versed in your model and have lots of experience in it. You might also be convinced that your model is a good one or even a better than average one, otherwise you would not have chosen and perfected it. While this is a good thing in general, it can lead to becoming overly attached to your model and feeling that the ICF requirements for an MCC recording put in question the validity of what you are doing. If your model is very much part of your identity, you may become defensive of your model (at least I did, when I was preparing for my MCC) when it is not recognized by the “powers that be”. In his article “Drop your tools: an allegory for organizational studies”,  Karl Weick (1996) tells the story of firefighters who died in a blaze that they could have run away from, had they simply left behind their tools. He stipulated that what kept the firefighters from dropping them in the face of death might be that their identity was too enmeshed with their tools: would they still be firefighters if they dropped everything and ran? This story is a bit of a warning: who are we as coaches, when we are no longer identified with our model? Is it just us, then? Most experienced coaches who take regular supervision that I know (not a representative sample) report that over the years, they have become more flexible and there was more “them” in the coaching session. To be able to pass the performance evaluation, trust yourself, not necessarily your model. You can always go back to that later.

Getting angry at your teachers and mentors

Sadly, we have experienced participants in our trainings and mentees get angry at us. They were unhappy with their progress, disappointed that they did not get a recording to submit fast enough. Sometimes their self-image as a competent coach was threatened by a mentor’s evaluation of a recording as “not perfect”. We know that by showing us their frustration, our participants and mentees were doing the best they can at this point to collaborate with us. However, it is still very sad when people get mad at us when we are trying our best to help them achieve a performance evaluation that will pass. When you find yourself getting mad at your teacher and mentors, talk to them openly. Maybe there is something in the teaching and mentoring process that can be adapted so it is more suitable for you.

If you want to go on the mastery journey with us (we have seen it all :-)), consider booking our MCC masterclass or if you just want to enjoy our company, come to one of our free coaching meetups and exchanges.

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