Coaching is an investment. An investment in YOU. And like any investment, you want to get the most out of the time and money you put into it.
When I first started seeing coaching clients, I discovered that some people have a huge misconception about what it takes to get great results from coaching.
Many people thought that the magic was in finding the right coach.
Certainly that's important. You want someone who's skilled. You want someone you can really connect with. And you want someone whose style and experience are a good fit for you and your situation.
But that's not the magic ingredient.
What is? It's you.
In my experience, the difference between people who get decent results from coaching and those who get GREAT results has to do with how they approach the coaching process.
So I've learned that an important first step in my work with new coaching clients is to educate them about what they can do to get the most out of their time with me.
What I tell them is that, to see the biggest results, they need to be an active and proactive partner in the process. Specifically, this means doing the seven following things…
1. Prepare for our sessions.
Take about 10–15 minutes to review your goals and reflect on your efforts since our last session. Ask yourself things like: What worked well for me? What obstacles did I encounter? What questions do I have? What would be the most helpful thing for me to work on next? Make a list of things you want to talk with me about so we can be focused and productive during our time together.
2. Do your homework.
At the end of each session, I’ll help you decide on actions you want to take as a follow up to our discussion. We’ll identify things that feel doable for you given the time and resources available to you. And then I will expect you to follow through and do your best. Part of the value of having a coach is knowing that someone else is there to help hold you accountable!
3. Send me short updates and examples.
Periodic emails between coaching sessions are not only a way to provide continuity and ongoing support as you work toward your goals, but they also provide me with additional data that will help me better understand how best to coach you.
4. Share your insights.
You have wisdom and knowledge about yourself and your organization that I don’t. If you hold these things back, I won’t be able to be as helpful to you as your partner in this work.
5. Voice your needs.
You are in charge of letting me know if there’s something I should do differently to better support you, if you don’t want to discuss a topic I have raised, if you’re confused by a homework assignment I’ve suggested, etc.
6. Keep an open mind and spirit of experimentation.
I might suggest new perspectives and behaviors that at first feel awkward, but I encourage you to take risks and try new things as you apply your coaching insights to your everyday work. I’d also encourage you to seek feedback from others as you try out these new approaches, as this will help deepen your learning and provide new insights.
7. Record your progress.
Consider keeping written notes and/or journaling about the things you are working on, what you are learning about yourself, and the strategies you try. Doing so can significantly boost the benefits you get from coaching. A simple format for doing so is to briefly answer the following questions for yourself in writing each day: What worked well today? What didn’t work well? What am I learning? What do I want to try next?