Coaching is becoming more popular and many business leaders, in search of success, are taking up the opportunity to use coaching to support the development of their business. Many people go into coaching not knowing what it really is or even how to get the best use from their coaching relationship. It is important to think about coaching and what you want to achieve through coaching.
Don't fret about this as your coach can help with this as they are skilled at asking the right questions to help you figure things out if you are feeling stuck or unclear! Here are some tips that my clients have found useful previously:
It's all about preparation
Prepare physically and mentally for your coaching. Think about the best place and time to have your coaching. When and where will you be more likely to be focused on yourself and not concerned with others’ needs or your other priorities?
Organise your own record keeping of the sessions for planning, recording, reminding, and evaluation purposes. It is important that you write down what goals you set for yourself and what actions you will take to achieve these goals. These notes are written reminders of your actions and help you to stay focused and on track between sessions.
Before each session:
Think about what topics it would be valuable to cover during the sessions. These might be long or short term issues, dilemmas, problems. Bring more than you think you could cover. There will always be another time – or else you might be able to discuss some of it by email after the session.
Prioritise which topic has the most potential for impact on your life and expect to start with that one: never 'leave the best till last'. Avoid matters that you will deal with during the course of your daily home and work routine. Bring things that are important and that you know can have a significant positive impact on helping you achieve your goals.
Be clear what help you want from your coach on each topic by reframing each issue, dilemma, problem as a question. E.g. ‘worrying about my deputy’ might translate to ‘What should I do about the mediocre performance of my deputy?
Review what has happened since your last session, especially any in-between ‘homework’ agreed between you and your coach. Make a note of the most important topics, your progress, and any barriers that you may have encountered. Expect to start the session with at least 5 minutes on in-between session events.
What's your mindset?
A core part of coaching is getting into the right mindset to work on the issues that are important to you. Your coach will help you with this and will always spend some time at the start of a session helping you to get into the right frame of mind. Additionally, you can also:
Be open and honest: it is often as useful to discuss home circumstances as it is to concentrate on work issues. This is because behind every role there is a life and the issues that occur in one sphere are often paralleled in the other. Things from work can impact on your home life and vice versa. Talk about the things that matter and that are affecting you.
Take responsibility for your side of the coaching – don’t expect your coach to ‘do coaching’ on you. You are responsible for implementing any changes in your life and work - engage, be honest and talk about the things that are important.
Offer regular feedback to your coach - tell him/her what works well and less well. That way you will help her go on learning as well as increasing the likelihood that you will get what you want from coaching. If something is not working, then tell the coach. They are there to help you, so they will be glad to receive feedback that will help them adapt their style to support you better.
Bring a notebook to jot down any important ideas that occur during the session. It’s up to you to keep the notes that will be useful to you. Write down any action plans that emerge at the end of the session.
Keep in touch by email if there is any further help you need from your coach between sessions. Most coaches are happy to provide support via e-mail. When establishing the coaching relationship discuss this with the coach.
These tips can help you get the most from your coaching relationship. Like any relationship, a coaching relationship also needs time and commitment.