Boiling coaching down to its essentials, working with a coach can help you:
- Clarify your goals
- Consider what’s holding you back
- Take meaningful action to reach those goals
- Develop your self-awareness l Learn how to coach yourself
This last point is crucial, as coaching is usually a time-limited activity. You might work with a coach over a period of months – it’s not an ongoing, lifetime relationship. So, it’s important to plan for a life after coaching, to learn how to challenge yourself as your coach would, and continue to identify and attain goals.
Your coach’s job is to provide support, but balance this with accountability. They’ll work hard to understand your perspective and where you want to get to – but will also challenge you when your thinking or behaviour is holding you back.
Coaching involves you stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying new things. Making that ‘difficult’ phone call. Providing feedback to a challenging colleague. Stepping into new responsibilities. Trying a new approach to deal with pressure.
Your coach will emphasise the need to take some action in between coaching sessions, to try new things and to experiment. You’ll discuss your reflections and the progress made towards your goal – which will require openness and honesty on your part. We’ll match that openness and honesty with support, with accountability and challenge – to help you on your way.
What coaching is not
It’s important to highlight where coaching is not a useful or helpful development activity. Coaching isn’t, for example, an alternative to counselling or psychotherapy. The nature of the significant mental health or life challenges that a therapist can help with means they are out of bounds for the coach.
Similarly, coaching isn’t a ‘quick fix’, where you’ll be told exactly what to do and how to do it. It involves work, reflection and getting out of your comfort zone. It’s also not just long conversations, however interesting they may be. It’s about growth, change and action.
Coaching isn’t something to be embarrassed about, either. It’s just another kind of development activity. In fact, we’d argue that by engaging in coaching, you’ve something to be proud of!
Our process is fairly straightforward. It begins with a ‘chemistry meeting’, where one of our team will meet with you – either face to face or via video conference
– to get a feel for what you’re looking for from coaching. This would include the topic or development area, and any practicalities we need to be aware of, such as timescales. This meeting also gives you a chance to meet the coach, ask them any questions you want and get a feel for whether you think you could work with them or not.
Selecting a coach is a very subjective matter, though you may find it useful to consider their qualifications and experience, alongside the level of rapport and trust you feel by the end of the chemistry meeting. They should be able to answer all your questions about coaching and clarify their way of working. Remember that the chemistry meeting is a no-commitment conversation, so you should take some time afterwards to consider whether you’d like to work with this coach.
After that, subject to both parties being happy to proceed, we’ll draw up a simple coaching contract which outlines how we’ll work together. It will include the number of sessions, the area we’re going to focus on and how we’ll work together.
Then it’s a matter of exploring the topic at hand so we can explore the role of your thinking, your personality, and your life experience to date in how you feel about making some changes. We work to make sure that we frame the goal appropriately and realistically and then gauge together your appetite for personal change.
Don’t expect your coach to hand out advice or give you a ‘cheat sheet’ for making change. There’s no simple ‘three-step process’ for making personal change. You can expect a lot of questions and the need to really reflect on what’s important to you.
Coaching sessions can take place face-to-face, at your office or ours in the City of London. Alternatively, we can conduct coaching via Skype or other video conference platforms. Whatever the medium, privacy is essential. We don’t conduct coaching sessions in coffee shops or hotel foyers! Sessions last up to 90 minutes at a time and can be spaced out at a rhythm appropriate to the topic we’re working on. Often, this means meeting on a monthly basis but depending upon the issues being explored we may meet more often at first, with longer intervals between sessions as progress is made and circumstances change.
Your coach will provide you with any resources you need (e.g. handouts, articles to read, videos to watch) and agree with you the tasks you’ll complete between each session. This might involve maintaining a journal of your development, experimenting with new behaviours or trying some relaxation techniques. The key point is: you’ll take action and come to your next session ready to share how it went.
The coaching relationship is different to most other relationships in your life and one core difference is the confidential nature of coaching. With very few exceptions, what we discuss in our coaching sessions doesn’t leave the room.
These exceptions are concerned with legal and wellbeing issues, and we’ll elaborate on them during the chemistry meeting. And if you’d like us to intentionally speak to a third party (e.g. your manager) about the coaching in detail, we can do with your permission.
Outside of those exceptions, we treat confidentiality very seriously. You, of course, are free to discuss your coaching with anyone you wish. We actively encourage coachees to speak openly about the coaching experience, so that those around them can understand why they’re trying new things and can even provide them with some helpful feedback along the way.
If coaching is being organised and sponsored by your employer, then they are also part of the process. We’ll take input and feedback from someone appropriate (e.g. your manager) and liaise with the business as we progress. Confidentiality will still apply, of course, though we’ll be able to confirm with your employer what’s in the coaching contract and indicate your level of engagement or progress in very general terms. And of course, you can be as open about your experience with them as you like.
We understand how challenging it can sometimes be to find a suitable coach. There are no barriers to calling yourself a coach, so we emphasise our experience and professional skills in everything we do.
All our coaches are accredited and qualified coaching psychologists. This means they’re registered with the British Psychological Society and have additional coaching skills training on top of their professional psychology education. As coaching psychologists, we can leverage our deep understanding of how people think, feel and act while using practical coaching techniques to unleash our clients’ potential.