I 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.