My tips on how to prepare for executive coaching, so that you get the most from your sessions
I recently created a video that explains what to expect from a coaching session. For some executives, coaching is something they’ve not engaged before and, naturally, people can be apprehensive regarding the coaching process and what may be asked of them. In this post, I’m going to go deeper into aspects mentioned in the video, so that you’re not only aware of what happens between coach and client, but also how you can best prepare for our meetings together.
No two coaching sessions are the same, nor is the support offered to clients
Clients approaching me for a coaching session not only have different needs and issues going on in their lives and careers, they’ll have their own personal goals and an individual approach towards coaching. Before you meet me, you need to consider the issues you want help with, the outcome(s) you’d like to see, and the kind of intervention you feel may help. For instance, are you easily overwhelmed by to-do lists, or do you thrive on reaching goals/targets? Are you someone who takes time to open up, or is talking more of a challenge because you’re a ‘listener?
Understanding how you work will help your coach tailor the sessions to your preferences and needs. Though I’m interested in what you say about the issues you bring to coaching, I’m just as focused on what you don’t verbalise; your true feelings are often displayed more acutely through your non-verbal language and the emotions you display.
Bring an open mind to your sessions and expect to share
Though I can get a good picture of your position through your words and your body language, clamming up or shutting down areas of conversation if they become slightly uncomfortable won’t enable you to deal with that challenge moving forward. Confidentiality is requisite in any coaching session (save for legal and safeguarding issues) and I’m not there to judge, only to help you move past the obstacles blocking your path. The clearer you are about your goals, the more you’ll get from coaching sessions; I’ll help you to clarify exactly what you feel success looks like.
Help me to make your coaching measurable and your goals attainable
Whether the goal is longstanding, or it’s an imminent challenge that’s only just reared its head, the coaching I offer is not counselling. I’m not just there to listen (though, of course, this is a crucial element of the coaching) – I help you identify the actions that move you forward.
Each subsequent session initially addresses your progress with goals/action points mutually created in the previous session, before similar measures are decided upon as part of the current meeting. Without such feedback or tangible goals in place, coaching is open-ended and meanders along without true purpose.
However, the goals you make should be attainable; there’s little use setting targets that you can never achieve. It’s better to break down larger chunks into workable steps, because otherwise, they can seem too big to manage.
Make sure your coach has understood you
Within a coaching session, I repeat the client’s own words back when summarising issues and goals. It’s common that the client won’t notice the language or terminology they’re using when describing their situation, yet this can prove enlightening when it’s repeated back to them.
Reviewing and mutually agreeing goals set in each session ensures both coach and client understand what’s at hand and the steps that are to be taken as a result. Without this summary, the coach and client could be expecting two very different outcomes and signs of progress when the next session gets underway. I ensure we’re both reading from the same page.
Address any concern with your coach
As part of the first session I hold with a new client I discuss the coaching contract. This helps clients understand what’s expected of them, and helps them to know what to expect from me, so that everyone’s clear before things get underway. We’ll also discuss your current situation in more detail than subsequent sessions, so that I can gather all the information I need to be able to help you and to implement the outcomes you need to progress.
Trust is an absolute necessity between coach and client; you need to feel you can table any concern, and that you feel comfortable in our sessions.
Coaching sessions last between an hour and an hour-and-a-half. The time goes fast, which is even more reason for sessions to be targeted and specific. Though I am a sounding board for you to discuss your aims and aspirations, my role is to help you determine the actions needed to move forward. Listening alone does not propel you forward, and that is MY goal.
If you think coaching would help you with your career, or indeed your personal life, call me for an informal chat on 01302 220021, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net