Articles on Coaching Matters:
The A To Z Of Coaching
Why get accredited? As a professional coach you want to stand for the quality of the coaching you provide - so you know the standards you work to and so you can clearly articulate what those standards are to the people you interact with in your professional role as coach: with all the discussion about what standards we are working to as an industry I think it's critical that you have both a standard for yourself and to point your clients towards.
One of the factors that defines you as a coach is your professional relationship with your clients – I saw a great discussion on this recently on the differences between friendly and friends – your boundaries relate to how you show this objectivity with support that your clients are looking for in coming to you to work with rather than choosing to work within the more subjective environs or their friends or family.
If you don’t believe in yourself as a coach, how will your clients believe in your effectiveness as a coach? A great way to articulate this is to create a series of statements for yourself “I believe…” that you are able to use as an affirmation focused on the best of who you are as a coach. If you don’t have this belief about yourself and your coaching yet, record and focus on positive experiences you have had as a coach, feedback you received in your coaching or in your early interactions with clients.
Clients when they come to us are often sharing their most innermost secret goals and dreams – as a coach part of our role is to step lightly by recognising the confidence our clients show with us working on their goals – some of the situations you are working with may be first time that the goal or the inner feelings and what it means to them, have been spoken out loud.
The biggest difference I have found in increasing my confidence and skills as a coach has been through increasing my experience, this has literally been in reaching out and finding out a range of people to coach on a range of issues – you’ll be more likely then to feel confident whatever issues come up when you are coaching, For instance, it may be that you decide in the longer term that you want to work with careers as a specific niche, however by doing lots of coaching earlier on it will help you increase your confidence if then the client raises issues outside their career but which are impacting on their productivity.
With experience comes freedom – the freedom to try different techniques as a coach, the freedom to focus on what you client needs rather than what you need to do or to say next to fulfill the needs of the accreditation process. I know when I started off coaching I felt the need to work completely with a whole range of information around me – my desk was filled with books and help notes. Now I have a copy of the information that the client has sent before the session – and an open mind to whatever they want to work only
When I work with clients I like to work with themn on 2 different goals – their overall goal or aspiration that has got them to thinking about working wit a coach, and the smaller goals for each session. By focusing on the individual needs of the session it makes it much easier for each session to run to track, to have a clear outcome on what the issue is and how the client wants to spend the time – it may be sometimes that they want to work with you as a sounding board, other times to brainstorm an idea and other times to create a working plan.
HOLISTICAs a coach part of the mission company of growasacoach is about coaching for the whole coach – and I fully believe that whatever niche you choose to work with its key to look wider than the initial picture that the client comes to you with to check out where it fits within the bigger picture of their life, work, relationships etc.
As a coach I feel there is a question for each situation. In fact many questions, many situations, many outcomes. Sometimes it will become clear that a particular question you have asked has sparked off a new learning for your client, or given this sense of a new insight and possibility. Nurture this with possibility, silence, reflection.
Coaching should be fun, playful, enjoyable – for both you and the client, It may be also emotional and challenging depending on what you are working with, but to remember that there is this sense of playfulness exploration and love of where you are going as a result of the process working easily and effortlessly – that can lead to joy.
One of the big learnings I had when I was preparing for my ICF accreditation and working with a more experienced coach was that my learning as an individual and coach is never over – o stay current with the trends and themes of my industry as well as creating a toolkit of techniques I can use with my clients,
Sometimes it is so easy to get trapped in the rush for qualifications, paper and getting through the process, that you can lose the meaning and learning of what you are doing. A good way to avoid this is to document at the time or to create a learning diay or journal that you can refer back to.
Sometimes it is not the words themselves, but the way that they are said. Or the gaps between the words. Or the words that aren’t spoken. Or the silences. As you get more experienced as a coach you will grow more confident in exploring all these with your clients to focus on the most impactful way forwards.
Being a coach can feel isolating, especially when you are first in set up mode or if you are doing a course that is mainly distance learning. I’d really recommend that you start finding places where other coaches are hanging out – either in person, through coaching circles or networking groups, or through online forums and discussion groups. That way you can find out what works, and share ideas about how to work on issues.
Open-ness is about openness to a whole range of things and situations as a coach – being open to learning new skills. Being open to asking different questions to the ones that you usually ask to help the client come to different conclusions. Being open with your clients about what you hear them talking about to help them move forwards and give them a different perspective on their language. It’s the language of possibility and way forwards.
Linking back to accreditation – classifying what it will take for you as an individual both to feel professional and for others to see you as professional. Professionalism for me is about standards, ethics, boundaries, coaching as a community of like minded people, with a like minded goal helping clients move towards their own, individual goals.
How good a coach are you? What’s your measure of that? It is good to think about both client measures relating to your quality as well as your own / industry measures. Client measures may be the retention of clients that you get, or the score they give you, or their testimonial. Your own measure may be feedback from supervisors, or mentor coaches.
I love the idea I heard of being a human google for your clients – by this I mean that you can act as a resource, an information researcher and disseminator by finding out more and more about your specialist coaching area – you can do this by using the internet and blog directories to look for tools and alerts relating to what you are working on. Then if the client gets stuck you have extra resources at your fingertips to work with them on.
Try different ways of doing things. Don’t always stick to the same coaching model, get out there and find out what other models there are and how you could use them in your coaching. Take some time to reflect back after coaching sessions to check that your coaching style is not getting stale, and if you think it may be think about working with a mentor or supervisor to explore exactly where this is happening, or your own coach to brainstorm exactly what you can do about it.
Something I get asked about a great deal is about timing of sessions. Something I found really useful is to make an estimate of different areas you want to cover and create a “clock” that fits your standard session length – for instance if you have sessions that are an hour and you use the GROW model, you may want to think about 10 minutes for a review of the previous actions and successes, 10 minutes to set the goal for this session, 30 minutes to explore the body of the goal, both what the reality is right now and what options could be explored, and then 10 minutes to wrap up, get commitment.
Remember that your coaching is unique. When you are starting out and you are not exactly sure what your “signature style” is, ask your clients for feedback on what made the coaching work for them and what they liked about working with you – if you consistently get feedback on the same areas this is probably about something you do individually well and is one of your core strengths in working with you clients.
VOLUNTEER OR PRO-BONO
Volunteer or pro-bono coaching is a great way when you are starting out to build your coaching hours and therefore confidence. You can also do it, or offer low rate coaching, to one or two clients in your business so you have a reduced rate offer to give to lower income clients if this is something that works for you. You may also want to do volunteer coaching because you want to give something back to your community.
Part of your role as the coach is to design an environment that will help your clients win at their own personal game of life. Often a client may come with a specific issue and say that this is the most important thing in their life right now, and when you look at their environment by using a tool like the wheel of life, you find out in practice that they are leaving little room for it – help them realise and work on this by practically designing what their life will look at when they are 100% successful according to their own terms, on these goals.
OK – I know this one was a bit of a cheat, but coaching is nothing if not creative! I love the sense of excitement of helping a client, through effective questioning, to realise something new about themselves and change course to a new and inspiring beginning. What are you excited about? Doing what you love in your coaching business will make it more powerful and effective.
YING and YANG
I’ve put this in here to remind you to keep your coaching in balance – it’s easy to spend all your time doing the work, marketing, marketing, doing the work (you get the idea). Focus on your own wheel of life and designed environment as well as that of your client, and have fun, go out, have great relationships, and your coaching will be even more fun as a result.
A change is as good as a rest. Sometimes – and sometimes you just need to take that downtime to recharge your batteries and get back to feeling zestful about your business and your coaching. Don’t be afraid to set up a schedule that works for you that enables you to take holidays, do what you love and rest and reflect on the way you do things. Enjoy, coach, share, have fun.
Claire Chapman is the owner of The Fabulous Coaching Company & focuses on helping trainee coaches & newly qualified independent coaches become more confident on their professional journey. Claire has a full range of resources including a complimentary 30 day ecourse at http://www.growasacoach.com Find out more by visiting the site.
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