Competency 8: Facilitates Client Growth is found in the ICF Competencies under Part D: Cultivating Learning and Growth. ICF defines this competency as “Partners with the client to transform learning and insight into action. Promotes client autonomy in the coaching process.” The following markers are indicators of competency. Markers 1, 6, and 7 are closely related, so they will be addressed together.
1. Works with the client to integrate new awareness, insight or learning into their worldview and behaviors
6. Partners with the client to summarize learning and insight within or between sessions
7. Celebrates the client’s progress and successes
These three markers are about facilitating the client’s sustainable forward movement. Coaching is intended to create new awareness in our clients. Part of the coaching process is helping clients to realize and articulate their learning so they can become rooted in their current thinking. This doesn’t only mean that at the end of a coaching session the coach should have a check the box question, “What did you learn today?” It goes deeper than that. When you recognize that your client is making progress putting new ideas together or making new discoveries, ask what they are realizing. The human mind works so quickly that realizations flash through our mind without us having to fully think them through. Because of this, getting the client to slow down their thinking and articulate their discoveries can be a powerful learning experience for them. Learning isn’t just something to sum up at the end of the session, it should be done throughout. Even asking questions like, “What progress are we making towards your goal so far?” can bring new awareness and insights to the client. These questions also help the client move further along because they are reflecting on the progress they have made so far that they may not have realized.
Recognizing and articulating new awareness helps the client to embed it into their minds. It is also important to help the client integrate the new learning into their worldview and behaviors. Questions like, “What will you do differently now that you are aware of this?” or “What changes will you make as a result of this new learning?” or “Now that you have this new information, what will you do?” are designed to create sustainable change for the client. It’s not enough for them to simply make realizations. Incorporating those realizations into their lifestyle, thinking, and behaviors are where the real power of coaching outcomes resides. I also check in with my clients at the beginning of each session to see what relevant progress or experiences they have had between sessions. Keep in mind that the client owns the agenda so checking in on progress should be client owned. What I mean by this is that instead of asking them directly what progress they have made, it is better to ask them if there is anything they want to check in on before getting started with the session. This gives the client the option to share anything they believe is relevant and doesn’t force them into feeling like the coach is “holding them accountable” for doing action items between sessions. What is important is not that action steps were taken but that our clients continue with forward progress between sessions.
There are several ways to celebrate client success and progress depending on what is happening in the session. You might take a moment to acknowledge progress that happened between sessions. You might reflect on progress over the course of the relationship by checking in and looking at overall progress towards the outcomes desired of coaching. You might also reflect on progress the client has made during the session such as moving from one way of thinking to another. All these things help the client recognize and build on momentum.