If you’ve never experienced coaching before, you might be a little hesitant to engage with it. You may have experience coaching before and found it wasn’t really effective or you’ve never encountered coaching before and are simply are not sure what to expect.

I had one client who said they had a love-hate relationship with coaching and after our initial discovery call, I was convinced I wouldn’t hear from them again. But after a couple of weeks, they reached out and did wish to continue. But if they hadn’t, that would have been ok. Coaching is as much about the relationship between the coach and their coaching client (the coachee), as it is about the experience and ability of the coach.

As a coach, I want you to feel comfortable with me and I can only do that by being transparent about what I offer and where I can add value, and by being really honest when I think my coaching isn’t the right fit. I’d rather say no and support someone to find the right coach, than coach badly.

You can also read my post What is coaching? to find out more about the specific type of coaching I offer. I hope this post gives you a few helpful pointers that will help you to get the most from coaching, in general, as well as with me.

When seeking a coach

Credible coaches will always offer a complementary call. This is an important part of the coaching process as it allows you to get a feel for the coach and to check if their experience marries with the challenges you are experiencing or the areas you wish to explore during coaching.

What to expect

For the initial complementary call (I call it a ‘Discovery call’) it helps if you have a few notes about why you are seeking coaching and what you hope to achieve from the coaching.

  • You don’t need to have a clear goal in mind, coaching can help to define what this might be. But having a sense off the difference you would like to see, and simply getting clarity is enough of a place to start. I’ve coached clients who’s ultimate goal has been very different for their initial reason for the coaching and also, where a client wasn’t clear about what they wanted, they just knew they were stuck. As their coach, it was my job to gently test this out and also to not force the coaching if the client wasn’t finding it useful. A good coach will never just take your money, they genuinely care about you getting the outcome you need as effectively and efficiently as possible, but with lasting results.
  • The coach will also want to outline how they operate to ensure you are clear. Most coaches have a format that works for them, which may not be effective for you, so pay attention to how they operate to check it fits. That said, most coaches will offer a degree of flexibility, so check that out too. There is no one size fits all approach so coaches will have a sense of where they can customise, but as I’ve mentioned before, a good coach will also be clear about what they do and don’t offer, based on their integrity. If you feel like your prospective coach is saying they can do anything with and for you, they probably aren’t your coach!
  • During the complementary call don’t expect to get right into the topic for coaching. This call ISN’T a coaching call. But it is an important step of the coaching process
  • Keep a pen and paper handy to jot down and questions or points of clarity.
    Good coaches will be happy to take follow up questions that you may think of after the call so it’s always better top ask. Again, it has to be right for you so if you’re not sure, find out!
  • You should never feel pressured into coaching following an initial call.

Once you’ve found your coach and agreed the date and time of your fist call (usually an online video call), I have a suggested a few things to prepare in advance. Try not to see it as work, this really is about getting the most value from your coaching session. You don’t have to spend hours on this. 10 minutes can be the difference between a good coaching session and a great one. And these are just suggestions and prompts, you don’t need to religiously answer each prompt. Pick the ones that most resonate with where you are at.

Over time, you might find that you start to do this automatically and without armpits and that’s great! Coaching is about giving you tools you can take away and apply whenever you need them. Coaching is intended to give you lasting results beyond the coaching interventions themselves.

Before the session

Take a little time to consider what has been coming up since the last session:

  • What has gone well, what has been especially challenging?
  • Think about where you might be feeling stuck. Are there any areas in your life or in your role or organisation which are difficult right now
  • How are you feeling? What are you noticing? Are you findings things harder than normal? Are you experiencing inertia about something? Are you noticing that you have less patience or resilience for things that normally come easy to you? Have you lost interest in something you normally enjoy? Or, what are you really enjoying? What have you noticed that has come easily to you? What might you have achieved since the last session?
  • How are you relationships? I’m a leadership coach so here I am focus on the relationships with your peers, you line reports, stakeholders but of course, this can apply to any relationship. Who are you finding challenging at the moment? Who frustrates you and who do you gravitate towards? Have you had any encounters that have been really positive? Maybe unexpectedly so?

During the session

  • Try to make sure you have a quiet place free from distractions or interruptions.
  • Keep a glass of water handy if you need.
  • Coaching isn’t therapy but at times, things may come up which can illicit an emotional response. That’s absolutely normal and expected but it can come as a surprise, so accept it and be gentle with yourself. Your coach will take things at your pace so try not to worry if this happens.
  • Emotions offer great insight and a reaction is telling you something that needs to be understood further and take care of. Your coach will help you work through this in the moment as well as beyond.
  • Try to keep time directly after the session free in case the session has been especially triggering, but also to give you some time to reflect and take note of any actions.

In the session itself, there it little point in me giving you a list of tips or prompts for that would defeat the purpose of coaching. Use the preparation you have done before if there are specific areas you wish to raise and bring them up with your coach, but beyond that, the session is your time. So try to be present and let it flow!

After the session

Ideally right away but if not within 24 hours, take some quiet time to reflect on the session.

  • Consider the things that really stood out for you. Were there any ‘lightbulb’ moments that offered clarity? These are important revelations that may be small or seem insignificant but reveal key things that can be transformative.
  • Did you gain clarity on an action or way forwards? Write it down and act on it if you can, or take some more time to think about the steps you need to take to complete.
  • Did something jar with you, make you feel uncomfortable? What was it, what is it telling you? Do you need to explore this in more depth? How are you feeling about it now? This can also include something the coach said. In such cases, if you feel able, do raise this with your coach, during or at another session. Your coach will likely have noticed it too and will be doing their own reflective practice or supervision and will genuinely wish to know if something didn’t work for you.
  • Finally, was there one key thing that you took away? If so, make a note of it. This will likely be telling you something important about your situation, so try to take a note and take action where you can.

Good coaching isn’t about generating homework or giving you a list of things that you need to away and do that are in addition to all of the other tasks and pressures you have on your time. Out of all of the things which are important for you in your life or role right now, effective coaching will give you clarity about which of these is the area that you really need to focus on.

Coaching is about transiting and getting results so dot be surprised if you come away with an action. The point is, this is the action that you need to take in your life and role right now that’s going to make a difference.

Get in contact if you’d like to know more about coaching with me.

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