In previous articles, we wrote about very important elements of coaching – setting the foundation and co-creation of a relationship.
Establishing trust and intimacy with a client is as important as the coaching presence. To truly understand the client and show a genuine interest in him or her is key at the beginning of a coaching session.
Now, we should focus on good communication with a client. This is the essence of a coaching session. The coach needs to communicate effectively.
The three building blocks of effective communication are active listening, powerful questioning and direct communication.
1) Active listening. The coach needs to focus on what the client is saying and is not saying, to hear something behind the talk, even the client’s thoughts. Behind the content usually lie the client’s concerns, values and beliefs. The coach also observes the tone of the voice and pays attention to the body language. He or she constantly explores the client’s expressions of beliefs, perceptions, and feelings. The client should vent their feelings and allow the coach to see the situation without judgment in order to move on to the next steps.
2) Powerful questioning. This is one of the most difficult parts of coaching. The questions which can extract a true, valuable insight from the client are called powerful questions. A coach should ask questions that produce discovery, commitment or action. In this way, the coach challenges the client’s beliefs. An open-ended question can create greater clarity and new learning. In the end, remember, the coach shouldn’t ask questions that make the client justify his or her actions or look backward.
3) Direct communication. Besides the powerful questions which can be very inspiring, the coach should communicate with clients directly and be clear in providing feedback. Also, the coach is expected to clearly state the objective, agenda, and purpose of the exercise. He or she aligns their jargon with the client’s and often uses metaphors to help paint a verbal picture.
At the end of the coaching process, the coach needs to facilitate the learnings and results, by creating the awareness and designing actions.
At this stage in a coaching session, the coach works with the client’s beliefs, not getting hooked by the client’s descriptions. The coach invokes inquiry for greater understanding and clarity, helping the client to see the different factors that affect them and their behaviors. In this way, the coach makes it possible for the clients to get insights which are meaningful to them.
After creating the awareness, the coaching session should finish with designing actions that will help the client to create an opportunity for ongoing learning during coaching. The coach encourages the client to explore alternative ideas or solutions and to make relevant decisions. The coach also advocates a point of view that is aligned with the client’s goal, and supports the client to take action immediately.
Now, the client should be able to develop and maintain an effective coaching plan with the coach, through planning and goal setting. The coach consolidates the collected information and establishes a coaching plan and development goals that address the client’s concerns. They together create a plan with results that are SMART.
The coach makes adjustments to the plan as warranted by the coaching process and by changes in the situation. Also, it is very important to aim for early success that is valuable to the client.
At the end of the coaching session, the coach should manage progress and accountability and leave the responsibility to take action to the client. The coach clearly requests the client to act in order to move the client toward their stated goals, and does follow up on the previous coaching session. Also, the coach acknowledges what the client has done, learned or become aware of since the previous coaching session. The coach effectively prepares, organizes and reviews with the client information and insights obtained in the coaching process. Also, he or she keeps the client on track between sessions by keeping focus on the coaching plan and agenda. The coach is open to adjusting behaviors and actions based on the coaching process. The coach should be able to move back and forth between where the client is and the big picture of where he or she is heading.
It is really important to promote the client’s self-discipline and hold the client accountable for what they say they are going to do. Through the coaching process, the client develops the ability to make decisions, address the major concerns and develop themselves. The purpose of the coaching process is to get a valuable outcome. The coach should positively confront the client with the fact that they have not taken the agreed-upon actions.
We have now finished the explanation of the main elements of a coaching process. These elements are also strongly promoted by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
Using this guideline, you can change someone’s life.