Some basic ponderings of the coach - client relationship
In the previous article in the coaching series ,I went over the actions leading to a contract. This article specifically covers the very bedrock of the client coach partnership : The Coaching Process. This suggested framework is aimed at sharing my experiences with aspiring coaches and clients alike.
Once the contract is signed and post the logistics activities between the client and coach a framework of the coaching plan needs to be agreed. Some essential actions in the coaching process are :-
Session plans :Session plans can be flexible as per requirement of both parties .A typical session goes anywhere between 45 minutes to 2 hours. The comfort , attention spans and criticality of the coaching content will ultimately decide the time, hence this is just a guideline.
Story boarding: The coach and client have to meticulously plan the key goals and ingredients in the coaching process so as to enable the client achieve all the goals and also get the big picture. A basic framework of this could be given in the contract.
Coaching notes : Notes may be shared after each session as per requirement of the client in the desired format of the client.
Confidentiality: confidentiality and ethics remain a key aspect of the contract however it is important to maintain this throughout the sessions as per ICF core competencies of co-creating the relationship. A special care is to be taken on the session notes., mode of sharing and the cyber security aspects which are new age challenges posing in the partnership.
Business Coaching: In a business coaching partnership some new challenges which may pose is to maintain client and organizational confidentiality, to the extent sometimes of making a non-compete contract.
Online-offline options: Both options work well. In contrary to the accepted belief ,surprisingly for some clients the online option may work well .A offline option is though best suited as per client requirement to interact with the coach and privacy required. An offline environment must provide adequate psychological safety to the client and encourage growth of the coaching process .This may also enable conduct of specific coaching exercises and activities which may be required to be carried out in person.
Additional work and home exercises: The coach may give additional exercise and reflections between two sessions to enable continuity of the sessions and maintain neuroplasticity of the client.
Some Specific Pointers for Partnership:
I would like to share some vital learnings from my experience that would enable both any aspiring coach or client to get some perspective about the coaching sessions journey ,they are :-
1. Trust :This is the very basic of any client coach partnership.
The coach should trust the clients beliefs ,assumptions and views with deep listening and allow the story to emanate before making conclusions.
The client should have trust in the coach on the coaching process and should immerse oneself to a level without barriers , to get the real experience and acquire the ability to challenges the self beliefs.
2. Continuity : Continuity refers to reflections and neuroplasticity ( ability of the neurons in brain to create lasting changes).This would happen with repeated practice and reflection's over the issues .A prolonged break in a clients session will affect creation of behavioral and attitudinal changes.
3. Integration: Clients need to integrate the coaching sessions into their lives on a daily basis persistently reflecting on the changes. Some clients come with all or none approach when they get busy in day to day work and don't reflect on the lessons coming out of the sessions . A common statement such clients make could be like, "I will continue with my sessions once I resolve this issue' . These could be mostly the clients who are working with motivation and procrastination issues. The very nature to postpone the learnings and get sucked in a transactional System 1 thinking ( First impulse reaction or prioritizing as things come) is not beneficial to the coaching plan, and could be potent derailer to the coaching journey and vision building of the client. The sessions need to be hence put to practice in real life scenarios by integration with the everyday routine by the clients at relationships ,work and in business context.
4. Impatience : This is a scenario where the coach or client gets drawn to the impatience syndrome. There is a noticeable haste to bring things to closure. Some clients do not have the time for wait for the big picture and may seek quick results and would want to be mentored and given consulting on certain issues to make a sub conscious attempt to avoid System 2 thinking ( long term perspectives).
5. Big picture : The coaching sessions are better when partnered than coach or when client driven, however ICF coaching competencies put the client as the deciding stakeholder on how the sessions should move and take progress .The coach may not draw conclusions and inferences in first few sessions, whereas the judgements and assumptions of the client need to be explored over time ,this is the big picture which will emanate with time and render the aha moments for the client.
6.Focus on goals : The coach and client need to consistently focus on the overall contractual goals and be vigilant when getting deviated and when sessions go astray. However the natural way to lead a session without controls would reap larger benefits of awareness. A mid course correction can be done between sessions where the goal posts be revisited at right moments.
The above aspects would enable better awareness about the coaching process to aspiring coaches and clients. Some minor process changes would happen in the process and methodology for Team coaching , which I would be covering in a subsequent article.
Kindly pen your thoughts and shared some experiences which could add to all the above.