Our first article just scratched the surface of everything there is to know about coaching. The article described the coaching competence cycle, the difference between coaching, training, and counseling vs. mentoring.
One of the fundamental requirements for successful coaching is a client that is willing to be coached because the engagement is the start of a relationship. There are three types of clients in coaching:
1) Visitors are people who may not have a desire to change anything in their life but are certainly curious about the process. Their attendance is involuntary, and often they may feel obliged. To make to most of the experience it helps to coax out an emotion, regardless of its nature (positive or negative).
2) Complainers are people who have a complaint and are willing to set and reach a goal through personal change but may not be ready to take action toward their goal and desired results. They often believe the goal is unachievable for them.
3) Customers are people who are ready to do something about a desired goal. With them, you can work as a coach and establish area of full trust and collaboration.
It is imperative that coaches know which category their potential clients fall in. If clients fail to pass the test of a customer, coaches must help them become customers first.
Coaching is a powerful process of personal development. While there are a lot of “coaching schools”, not all are certified by a governing institution. To preserve the quality of coaching for our clients and create guidelines for new coaches, the coaching community has created a variety of associations. One of the most recognized associations in the world is ICF (International Coach Federation) and for the purposes of this article, I will stick to their guidelines. The others are more or less similar.
Regardless of your level of experience of coaching, the following steps and competencies need to be considered:
A coaching engagement needs to be comprised of the following four steps:
I) SETTING THE FOUNDATION
II) CO-CREATING THE RELATIONSHIP
III) COMMUNICATING EFFECTIVELY
IV) FACILITATING LEARNING AND RESULTS
SETTING THE FOUNDATION
This step is all about coaches adhering to ethical guidelines and professional standards. Coaches must pay attention to understand their own behaviours against the backdrop of ICF standards of conduct. Also, coaches need to clearly communicate the distinctions between coaching, consulting, psychotherapy, training etc, and recognize when it is necessary to refer a client to another professional.
Coaches then continue setting the foundation by establishing the coaching agreement. That implies effectively discussing the coaching relationship with clients (scheduling, fees, logistic, etc.) Coaches must clearly communicate what is appropriate in coaching relationship; what is the difference between client’s and coach’s responsibilities. Finally, coaches should check whether an effective match between their coaching method and the clients’ need.
CO-CREATING THE RELATIONSHIP
After successfully setting the foundation, coaches can start creating a safe and supportive environment to establish trust and intimacy with clients. Clients need to feel supported, which is achieved when coaches express genuine concern and empathy around the clients circumstances. Also, coaches must continuously demonstrate personal integrity and honesty. Since coaching examines is sensitive and personal areas of clients’ lives, coaches must demonstrate respect for the client’s perceptions and learning style, and keep their promises. Coaches should provide ongoing support for new clients’ behaviours and actions.
Another integral component of a successful coaching engagement is what is referred to as coaching presence, which is the ability to be fully conscious in creating a spontaneous relationship with clients. Coaches must be present and flexible during the coaching process, open to not knowing and taking risks. Coaches are allowed to use humour to create energy and good vibes and experiment with how they engage with clients. Coaches must demonstrate confidence when working with strong emotions but should avoid being overpowered by or enmeshed in clients’ emotions.
Through these two groups of guidelines, coaches can establish a strong foundation and safe base for further exploration of their clients’ feelings and emotions. Without setting the foundation and co-creating the relationship coaches shouldn’t attempt taking clients on the exciting journey called COACHING.