The Role of Shadow Coaching in Mining Operations

Shadow Coaching is an immersive adventure in which the coach accompanies the client directly in his or her professional environment. Shadow coaching can be incorporated into certain iNNERSHiP programmes when it's appropriate. Today, put on good shoes and let's embark on a mining site in Mozambique. 🔊

Walk in the sand


This project follows on from a major long-term development initiative. After instilling in the teams the posture and mindset of the leader-coach, they were coached to grow and gain impact as leaders. A solid foundation was laid with leaders aligned with the company's mission, values and guiding principles.

As a result, the emphasis was placed on "full role delivery".

The coachees had very busy schedules, which made it very difficult to fit in coaching sessions. Shadow coaching was a real opportunity because of a strong need to bring this audience up to speed (in only 2 months !). The objective is to empower all operational leaders to effectively coach and support their teams, ensuring that each role was clear, aware of expectations and aligned with each other. With the sponsorship of their General Manager, this project is dedicated to enhancing leadership capabilities for impactful results (you will discover it at the end of the article !).


Hello Constança ! 👋

Could you tell us more about your experience and particularly about your shadow coaching sessions ?

Hi everyone !


To give you more context, Constança worked with the superintendents. They are a very critical part of the organization of this mining organization, in the sense that they need to support, coach and guide the supervisors who are the team leaders who work with the operators. They support operations and management. The individual objectives of each shadow coaching session are different from one leader to the other, while the collective objective is the same for all superintendents at all levels.

The mistake would be to believe that shadow coaching is coaching to provide feedback on specific tasks. The strength of this approach is the strength of questioning. We'll show you how.

1- Preparation

The iNNERSHiP team worked with the client to identify the right tools based on the vision to be achieved. Roles and expectations were clarified before the 360. Each role was structured in three main areas: planning, coaching, and delivering. Each of these three areas has a number of behaviors and activities that the coach can go through very carefully. The coach is there to ask questions and observe, based on the objective set by the coachee. 

The coach has received a detailed working document containing specific and powerful questions for each expectation of the role. We'll give you some examples as you read on.

I was able to adjust my questions to the specific area of work


2- Connect and engage on the flow of the session

The coach dedicate the first few minutes of every shadow coaching to understand the coachee, how the coachee sees herself/ himself in terms of their own split of time. In this case, the discussion will turn around planning, coaching, and delivering.

How do you feel as we enter this shadow coaching session ?

What is this session a good opportunity for, or how could we maximize the impact of the session for you?


Each role comes with its own challenges


3- Self-assessment and goal setting

An essential step before diving into the shadow coaching session is to clearly establish the objectives. Each individual objective is unique to the coachee, and the coach ensures that it is always linked to the collective objective. How can we best support the coachee? This stage is not only crucial but also exciting, as it uncovers the coachee's key issues and expectations, paving the way for an effective coaching experience.

Next, the coach encourages the coachee to take notes during the session in order to identify areas for attention or vigilance. This guides the coach's observations and helps to focus on the particular aspects that the coachee wishes to improve.

Don't change your agenda


Constança emphasizes the importance of focusing on HSE leadership and ops controls, as these are key areas of concern for their clients. By aligning with the client's objectives, Constança assists in defining a goal for the session that specifically targets HSE leadership and ops control. Throughout the session, she remains attentive to these aspects, particularly focusing on HSE for optimal results.

Focusing on HSE, leadership & Ops controls, what goal do you set yourself for that shadow coaching time?


4- Observation time with focus on expectations in role, goal set and focus on HSE and Operational controls. 

As the shadow coaching session begins, Constança carefully follows the questions provided in a comprehensive document sent by the iNNERSHiP team (in line with all the work done upstream in workshops and other discussions with the client).

By area (planning, coaching, execution), the expectations of the role are indicated. For each area, there are around 8 main criteria (e.g. for planning: shift analysis, HSE, prioritization, etc.). Next to each role, between 5 and 10 questions are provided. 

With these questions in hand, she integrates them perfectly into her observations, making sure she captures every detail while taking meticulous notes on the coachee's behaviour and interactions.

Notes, notes, notes ...


Coaching / Trust Building: What is your attitude to following up the issues discussed with your team?

Planning / Prioritization: Does your agenda this week reflect your top priorities?


As a coach, Constança faced challenges on the site, when taking notes while walking (what a wind!), when the sun was beating down hard outside...  But as well as the logistical obstacles, she also faced other challenges during these sessions.

I felt I had to get away


Considering the goal set for that session, what went well during this shadow time? What are the warnings?


5- Closure and Debrief

The debrief and closure are critical components of the session. In some instances, during observations, Constança takes advantage of the drive with the superintendent for this purpose. Despite not being the ideal setting, they had to make the most of their time. She prompts the coachee to reflect on the session's goal and establish a direct connection with the upcoming days, anticipating the challenges the coachee will face on-site. These moments often center on the superintendent's shift towards guiding supervisors by asking questions and embracing a coaching-focused leadership approach, rather than simply providing answers.

How to close


What commitments do you want to take based on this session to progress in terms of full role delivery?

How helpful did you find that shadow coaching session? 


A look back

As you will have realised, Shadow Coaching goes beyond simply providing feedback on the performance of a role; it also aims to create a framework conducive to the acquisition of valuable knowledge and self-exploration. It involves listening 70% of the time, asking questions in the remaining 30% of the time while building on the observations from the initial self-assessment, the objective set and the document with powerful and targeted questions for the role.

By defining specific areas and observing behaviours, the coachee can discover surprising revelations and opportunities for growth. It's a transformative journey of support and observation!

What a breakthrough !


 Thank you Constança !