Keeping a bird's eye view of the coaching process.
In coaching training, we put so much emphasis on the importance of developing our skills to manage a single coaching session that at times we may lose sight of the fact that these individual conversations are part of the overarching process the client is going through. Even though clients can achieve breakthroughs in one single session, transformation and growth take time, and it is crucial for us to learn how to support the coachee to navigate this long-term endeavor.
Since the beginning of our training, we learn that the client is the one who sets the agenda for each conversation. Sessions should start by giving the client the opportunity to clarify what they want to be the focus and the expectations for that individual interaction. While this is one of the fundamental points of coaching, if followed alone, it will probably lead to an aimless process without a central direction.
Remember, Core Competency #3 – Establishes and Maintains Agreements – addresses not only the importance of an agreement for the session, it also clearly addresses how to support the coachee in establishing and maintaining the focus for the whole coaching program.
What is interesting to me is that, if we pay close attention, the framework of the coaching conversation works both on a micro and macro levels. A skillful coach is an expert in supporting the coachee in both the session and the overarching coaching agreement. As coaches, we need to have the capacity to stay in the moment, and at the same time keep a bird’s eye view of the client’s development and main goals.
This does not mean that we become responsible for the direction where the client goes. This is still the client’s responsibility. Just like we are not responsible for naming the topic for each session, we should not take charge of where the coaching is going in a broader sense. However, just like we are responsible for bringing the framework where the coachee can establish a session agreement, we also need to create opportunities for the coachee to measure their process and to evaluate, tweak, and/or course correct, if necessary.
One of the best practices here is to create time markers where both the coach and the coachee already know they will be checking in. This will vary depending on each client and each process, but perhaps good opportunities would be every three or six months to stop and ask the client how they are doing overall.
This can be done at the beginning or at the end of a session or sometimes, even take a full conversation. Again, this is not a case where the coach is taking the lead. This is part of the partnership we establish with the client. It is like checking in with the client in the middle of a single coaching session. How are we doing so far?
Another great opportunity to take this approach is at the beginning of a season, perhaps an anniversary or at the start of a New Year. These cultural markers can give the client the time to take a breath, celebrate what has been accomplished and start again with renewed energy towards their goals.
One of the most important points of being an effective coach is to stay current to what is happening in the coaching world and up-to-date with your skills. Don't miss the next article for ForCoaches. Subscribe below and be notified of my next article.
As a mentor coach, I am always giving feedback to my students and mentees helping them develop their coaching skills and prepare for their certification with the ICF. ForCoaches is a place where I can publicly share some of my insights and experiences. What does it mean to be a truly effective coach?