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What To Think About Before You Start Coaching

Personal Coaching

What To Think About Before You Start Coaching

Perhaps you have been thinking about coaching, but still have questions or want some tips on where to start and how to make the best of your investment. Here are a few pointers:

1. Know How You Will Measure the Success of Your Coaching

You don’t necessarily need to know everything you want to talk about in advance of starting coaching, but it is useful for you and your coach to have a sense of what you want to get out your time together and how you will know if it’s proving worthwhile.

For example, an executive coachee, may have very specific objectives for developing a team or certain leadership qualities over time, or simply know that they want to feel less stressed or to be making time for more strategic thinking and prioritisation.

For personal coaching, you might just know that you currently feel stuck and unfulfilled with where you are right now, and thus clarity or the beginnings of a future action plan may be your success measures.

A good coach will develop these objectives with you further during your coaching (and possibly involve your company/organisation too) and will also ask for some context/preparation from you in advance of your first session.

Some questions to get you thinking:

  • What do I want more or less of? (at work or in life)
  • What would I like to be different or resolved?
  • How would I like to feel or how would I like things to be?
  • What do I hope coaching will bring me?

2. Think About What You Need From a Coach

You will naturally have your own priorities and preferences when choosing a coach, so I am not really talking about that; although I will say that rapport and trust count for a lot. You need to be confident in the skill of your coach and comfortable that you can be open and honest with them. Also, you may like to remember that a coach does not need to be an expert in your field – they are not supposed to be mentoring or advising you, but coaching you.

Rather, I encourage you to consider how you need your coach to be? Are you looking for encouragement and support? Someone who is direct and will challenge you? Someone motivational? Someone to simply talk things through with and help you to have a fresh perspective?

Help your coach by telling them what you need from them. Also, how you operate. For example, I am someone who may leave a long silence before I answer a question, so I have alerted my coach to this – I have said that I will say specifically if I need new input, otherwise they can leave to reflect.

There is no right or wrong and you may not be entirely sure what works for you until you start the coaching. Coaching is a partnership and the relationship develops over time. Please do not think that you are criticising. A good coach will welcome and even invite feedback. Communication is key to make the coaching as effective as possible (and what you need may also change over time or even each session).

3. Decide What Coaching Format or Frequency Suits You

a. What’s the best length for a session?

Personally, I find that 60-minutes is about right, although ideally I like clients to book 90-minutes for a first session or if you are planning only a couple of intensive sessions to explore a particular issue/topic.

b. How many coaching sessions will you need?

How many sessions really depends on your budget and the purpose of the coaching. Even a couple of sessions can help in terms of gaining some clarity, although of course more are helpful for longer-term change or the development a skill (e.g. 5, 10 or more). I do not ask my clients to book a series of sessions in advance (although do offer a discount for this) and I am happy for them to decide what the need as we progress. However, if you are only intending a couple of sessions in total, your coach may find it helpful to know this in advance.

c. What interval between coaching sessions?

Sessions can be weekly, fortnightly, monthly or even quarterly and you may find that the frequency changes over time. Your coach can advise – a lot can depend on the purpose of the coaching.

d. Skype or in person?

What is possible will of course depend on where you and your preferred coach are based, your budget and your personal preference. You may like to connect with your coach in person for your first session, but don’t underestimate how well coaching can work over Skype. If in any doubt, most coaches will be happy to arrange a brief Skype call to ‘meet’ you and answer questions, so that you can decide if virtual coaching could work for you.

4. Make Time to Prepare

Like most coaches, my Barton Insights coaches and I ask clients to complete a simple questionnaire before coaching begins, as well as a very brief update before subsequent sessions. This is for you as much as it is for us. It helps you to reflect and also to pinpoint what you want to gain from the coaching or the specific session. You could skip this, but I encourage you to make time for it – it is invaluable preparation and will help you to use the time effectively. Most people find they really enjoy the preparation too once they begin!

What else is stopping you from starting coaching? If you have further questions, I am happy to help – please click here to contact me.

To find out more about how coaching actually works, watch my 2-minute video ‘What is Coaching?’.


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