10+1 steps to make coaching work for you

iStock_000007815710XSmallI spent some time this weekend revamping my coaching page. It made me think that it’s all very well for me to write about what coaching is from my perspective. But if you’re someone who’s forking out for coaching, how do you make sure that it does what it says on the tin?

  1. Make sure there’s good chemistry. The relationship you form with your coach is fundamental to its success. So, your coach needs to be someone that you feel you’re going to get along with. A good coach will make sure they give you both support and challenge. They’ll be someone that you feel both “gets” you and your issues, and is also capable of asking you the right kind of questions and offering you the right kind of insights to move you along. Take time to check people out, either by subscribing to their blog and engaging with their comments to begin with, or by asking to have an initial brief telephone conversation. If your company is sponsoring your coaching, be sceptical if HR offers you no choice as to who will coach you. And check out the contract between you, your firm, and the coach on confidentiality. You want to be sure that what you discuss with your coach remains between you and your coach. There are some unscrupulous coaches who abuse their power and give inappropriate feedback to the person who’s paying if it’s not you. Don’t leave it to chance.
  2. Own the process. It’s YOUR life, not your coach’s. Take charge of the work you’re doing with your coach and don’t hand them the responsibility for it. Good coaches won’t, in any case, let you. And avoid the kind of coach who wants to hold the reigns.
  3. Expect to pay. Signing up with a coach should be an important decision in your life, requiring an significant investment of time, effort and money. The money you spend on coaching should be sizeable enough to make you think about whether you’re going to pay it or not. Deciding that you’re going to go for it and spend the money should make you feel good and that the money you’re spending on yourself is worthwhile. That’s true whether you, or a company, is funding your coaching.
  4. Make a commitment. As a coach, I make a commitment to do my best in the service of the people I work with. In other words, I put my heart into it. When that energy is met by a client bringing themselves wholly to the process, the alchemy of coaching comes alive. If you are ambivalent about coaching, you’re wasting not just your own time but your coach’s. Think about it.
  5. Have clear goals. Unlike therapy and counselling, which can be more ongoing and less tangible, good coaching works towards results. Before you even begin coaching, think about what you want to be different as a result of your investment in the process. What do you see yourself doing at the end? What are you going to be thinking? How are you going to be feeling? A good coach will make goal setting a vital part of the coaching process, but if that’s something they’re woolly about, be sure to articulate your own right at the outset.
  6. Schedule sessions regularly. If you want to see real movement and traction from your work with your coach, get sessions booked in the diary at regular intervals. What “regular” means will vary from person to person and depend on what you’re working on. Might be weekly or monthly. In fact the frequency might change over the course of a coaching programme. The point is always to know when you’re going to be next checking in with your coach.
  7. Make coaching a priority. For the time that you are doing coaching, make it the most important thing in your life. This means that, if you have scheduled a session with your coach and a work or social thing comes along, you should postpone the work or social thing, not the coaching. Cancelling coaching means you are not taking yourself or it as seriously as you need to, and so its ability to work for you is diminished.
  8. Work between sessions. If you’re really motoring in your coaching sessions, you’ll notice all kind of inner shifts going on. This is great! And, you need to be taking what you’re learning from coaching and putting it into practice in your work and life. It’s that inner-outer dynamic that makes real change happen and allows you to see movement in your life.
  9. Be yourself with your coach. Interact with your coach like you would anyone else in the world. Don’t put your coach on a pedestal. If they require to be on a pedestal, move on.
  10. Stick with tough stuff. Sometimes the going will get tough in coaching. You might find you’re struggling with something, or that something your coach has said has struck a nerve. Don’t swallow it or back out of your next session. Good coaches know how to engage with you at such times in a way that can lead to the most amazing breakthroughs.
  11. Know when you’re done. Coaching support is brilliant when you’re working with the right person who’s helping you navigate significant change or growth. But when you’ve achieved that, move on. By all means, keep up the relationship so that you can call upon your coach to help you with a specific challenge you’ve encountered. But don’t make the mistake of dragging something past its sell-by, or by becoming overly dependent on your coach. In any case, good coaches have the inner confidence and grace to be able to tell you when you are flying very well, all by yourself.

What about you? Have you been a client of coaching and what has and hasn’t worked for you? It’d be great to have you share your experiences with other readers.

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  1. A great list Christine. So much wisdom in here .

  2. Bob Bessette says:

    Hi Christine,
    I have never been a client of coaching but I’ve considered it. I think having someone who can help you accomplish goals in your life is very important. In fact, I interviewed two life coaches in one of my blog posts so that I could learn more about what a life coach actually does. It must be very fulfilling for you and other life coaches to be able to help others meet their challenges and attain their goals in life.


    • Christine says:

      Thanks for the comment, Bob.

      It’s an honour for me to work with people in this way. I feel privileged to be allowed to partner with people and to contribute to their growth.

      Take care!

  3. A great list.

    I’ve thought about life-coaching recently since meeting yourself and Jen and wondered if I would be something I’d like to do but I’m not sure I’d be much help to people.

    I suppose that working with a life-coach is like having a personal trainer (I used to be one of these you see). In order to get the most out of it you need to be willing to put in the hard work between sessions and train regularly.

    Thanks Christine – very thought-provoking for me

    • Thanks, Ben. I’m glad you found it useful.

      The comparison to personal training is a good one. Some people, especially City execs, have coaches because it’s kind of trendy. It’s a bit like those that sign up to do personal training because they think that that alone will magically get them thin, fit, or whatever. Achieving any kind of goal does require engagement and effort. It just so happens that personal trainers and coaches have a skill set that can harness that energy, should clients be up for it.

      I’m curious that you think you’re not sure that you’d be much help to people. You strike me as being a bit of a natural!

      Thanks again for your support.

      • Eleanor Edwards says:

        I’m loving reading this post and the subsequent comments with the benefit of hindsight. Isn’t it a wonderful thing? ;)
        .-= Eleanor Edwards´s last blog ..4 Easy Tricks for Instant Smiles =-.

        • Christine says:

          Thanks, El. Hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing!

          • Eleanor Edwards says:

            In this instance, it’s actually really fun to be able to look back and see how things (and people) have developed. I can’t wait to do the same again 12 months from now. :)

  4. I thought exactly what Christine did reading your comment Ben – you are a natural!

  5. Thanks ladies. I suppose it’s just a confidence thing with me and a lack of information on the subject.

    I’m going to email you both if that’s ok?

  6. Of course Ben. Look forward to hearing from you.

  7. Michael Leiter says:

    Your 10+1 points describe a productive relationship that’s going somewhere. A great implication of your ideas is that learning how to make use of a coaching relationship will help people to become better leaders. Leadership is a relationship with a purpose.
    All the best,

    • Christine says:

      Thanks, Michael.

      I hadn’t thought of the leadership implications of my list, but you’re absolutely right. Thank you for your insight!

      And, running with that thought to the subject of work engagement, which I know is close to your heart, if leaders engage their people in the kind of relationship and conversation I’m advocating, they may see some very interesting results, don’t you think?

      Take care


  8. well said christine!!!
    i’m loving your revamped coaching page. wow!!! it’s so detailed. infact it’s the most detailed coaching page i have come across.
    i hope readers or intending coaching clients really adhere to your words of wisdom because it would create meaningful and positive relationship with their coaches.
    I have a bone to pick with you on this statement lol!!! ‘Unlike therapy and counselling, which can be more ongoing and less tangible, good coaching works towards results.’
    there’s an element of truth in it and thats why you see a few counsellors, pyschotherapists (i’m one of them) undergoing training in coaching and elements of positive psychology and you now have coaching psychologists in the uk……..
    on a final note i believe if coaching is regulated, the quality and professionalism of coaches will be put to test but it’s not in sight at least for now.
    once again i loved this christine
    take care!!

    • Christine says:

      Thanks Ayo! And thanks for the challenge!

      Like you, I am a registered psychotherapist (in addition to my coaching work, I see a few therapy clients a week, and I use my knowledge from this world to inform my coaching) so I’m having a dig at my own world here, as much as anyone else’s. I love much about psychotherapy, not least the depth of understanding it gives. However, I see too much fluffy stuff. Conversations with no concept of outcome, interpretation for the sake of it, and clients being left in less than resourceful places because of what’s deemed to be necessary “regressive” work.

      If I understand what you’re saying correctly, you’re choosing to bring elements into your work which sound like they can only help sharpen the saw. I think that’s fantastic!

      I couldn’t agree with you more on the question of coaching regulation. That’s why I’ve never bothered to do any accrediting, although I’ve done coach training and could. I can’t see it’s current value. Anyone right now can call themselves a coach and start working with little or no training, which is kind of scary.


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