Ever wondered just what happens in a coaching session?
We’ll you’re in luck! Today, I’m pulling the curtain on just what happens between a client and coach, and more specifically, what happens when you work with me.
Coaching sounds kinda weird, right? I totally get that. It feels a little vague. A little woo.
We tend to think that we should be able to fix our own problems. We tend to think that if we just live in the right city, get the right job, and make the right amount of money, everything will be fine.
As it turns out, people struggle to find employment, dream jobs can become nightmares rather quickly, and picking up and leaving the struggles of one city behind doesn’t mean there isn’t a brand new set of issues in another. Even if things aren’t bad, people can get stuck in the rhythm of a 9-5 workweek and lose time, energy, and focus on the things and people that once mattered a lot.
We get so ingrained in the things that we have to do that we lose track of the things that we really want to do.
A coach will facilitate a process that will help you sort through confusion and uncertainty and guide you towards taking tangible action steps through your goals.
Because I have a lot of experience in hiring and getting people I hired, my own approach to coaching includes a lot of consulting and strategy. That means I can both facilitate a process of clarity and goal setting with clients, but I can also get into the nitty gritty of a job search – language on a resume, preparing for a job interview, the details of a career transition. That sort of thing.
So here’s a sample of what happens in a coaching session (or more realistically, what happens over a course of a few coaching sessions!).
My work begins from the moment you book your session. I have a detailed questionnaire that not only helps me get to know you more quickly, but actually helps set you up for initiating change and setting goals. I also review other supplemental materials that clients provide including resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, etc.
It can take a while for coaches and clients to get to know each other and having tools and time to do that before we start the coaching saves a lot of time (and money!) for my clients.
These are activities that help clients get out of their comfort zone, create new ways of thinking, and focus on the process rather than the outcome.
Exercises are great for boosting confidence and getting some clarity around your goals, strengths and values.
Sometimes I provide exercises that can be completed during the session but often they’re completed between sessions and we do some de-briefing and figure out how it can inform our strategy.
It’s easy to be dismissive of activities and exercises, but if you’re spinning your wheels in your job search (or any other goal), taking a step back and completing an exercise can be the catalyst that provides some very instructive insight on your process.
In my view, one of the most powerful aspects of coaching is that it facilitates a reflection process with support and accountability.
Reflection is a profoundly useful tool for adult development and learning.
It’s hard to create the time in our life to do this kind of work. It can be even harder if we’re holding onto certain limiting beliefs about ourselves and the world around us that may or may not be true. Having a coach to help facilitate this process and provide feedback and structure is incredibly useful.
Coaching inquiries are coaching questions that coaches ask clients to think about and consider, usually between sessions. If I have a client who is struggling to take care of her physical and mental health because of work commitments, a coaching inquiry might, “How could centering self-care help improve other areas of your life, including work?”
Habits are hard to change and even though clients often experience incredible realizations in the sessions, some questions require a little bit more time and consideration. These questions don’t just spark a response, but they provide an opportunity for pretty major shifts in thinking.
This probably sounds like a no-brainer. I ask questions, I should listen!
But coaches aren’t just listening to your response. We’re noticing what is difficult for you to respond to and what your voice conveys (excitement, fear, happiness, etc). We’re listening for self limiting beliefs (“I could never…” “I can’t…” “That would never work…).
We listen to what you say and what you don’t say. And we notice that so we can bring it your attention and explore ways to transcend the boundaries you’ve created for yourself.
In my coaching sessions, clients do most of the talking. But when a client is feeling particularly frustrated or stuck, I will often ask permission to share a strategy, idea or tactic.
Usually, clients are pretty excited for a suggestion and we’re usually able to find a way that they can implement it in their lifes. Examples of things I’ve shared include favorite productivity apps, affirmations, and easy networking strategies. Nothing crazy- just a helpful solution when my clients could use some help!
Coaching sessions are awesome. I have incredibly brilliant, thoughtful and ambitious clients. That said, what they do outside of our sessions is so much more important than the things that happen during the session itself, right?!
While I might suggest a particular exercise or inquiry, it’s really up to the client what the homework is. I also have my clients set goals for our next session and I ask them:
What will you do? I help clients set reasonable objectives for the timeframe that are in line with their overall goals for coaching.
When will you do it? I ask for a deadline. This is especially important for people who are pulled in a million different directions. Some people hire me for holding them to their own deadlines alone.
How I will I know? Clients email or text to let me know when they’ve completed something on their to do list.
Post session work
Lots can happen between sessions too. If a client is struggling, we may have a quick phone call or email session. If I get a “success” email from a client, I respond and celebrate accordingly! I often send emails and cards, as well as relevant articles I find online.
Coaching isn’t a magical, secret formula. It’s a series of concepts- motivation, clarity, focus, support and accountability- that are proven to help people get unstuck, move their life into alignment with what they want, and increase their productivity and happiness.
Do you have questions about coaching? Let me know in the comments below!