Deciding to work with a coach/mentor is a big decision and huge financial investment too. In order to get the best return for your investment, not waste precious time and achieve the goals you have in mind when you first decide to work with your coach, it’s important to be prepared for the coaching/mentoring process. Here are 5 tips to help you get the best from your coach and your coaching sessions.
1. Coaching Is Not Counselling.
Coaching will help you focus on what you really want (your goals) and help you develop a plan of action to achieve those goals. Coaching is future orientated and will help re-inforce your self-belief and your ability to make the changes you’d like to make. Counselling, on the other hand, helps when you are having difficulties or problems, often because of past experiences, that are stopping you from moving forward and you feel you need some help to get clarity and put closure on the past. Some coaches also offer a combination of coaching and counselling – be clear about what your coach is offering you and that it meets your needs.
2. Choose A Coach You’ll Feel Comfortable Working With
Sometimes strong emotions can surface during the coaching process. It’s important that you feel comfortable showing your emotions (eg sadness, anger) in front of your coach. You might also want to find out about the coach’s perspective on things like religion, politics, spirituality – these things might be important to you and your coaching journey. Ask for an informal chat prior to making any commitment to work with a coach – most coaches will be more than happy to do this.
3. Be Pro-Active
Coaching is your process and you’re the one driving it so it’s important to be clear about why you’re there and what you’re hoping to achieve at each and every session with your coach. These goals might change but it’s important to have a starting point. Your focus might be work/career, relationships, health; whatever your focus or goal is be as clear as you can about it – this will help your coach to coach you more effectively. Saying “I just want to be happy” is not a good starting point and wastes valuable coaching time. Although sometimes, at the beginning, you might not be completely clear about why you think you need to work with a life coach, your coach can help you focus and get some clarity to enable you to set some goals.
At the beginning of each session you should be able to clearly summarise what you want to focus on. So many coaching sessions are wasted because there is no clarity between what a client means or needs and what the coach understands. As a coach I ask my client specific questions at the beginning of every coaching session. I’ve rephrased the questions below so that you can ask yourself before you begin the coaching process and before each session.
- What do I want out of coaching/this session?
- What are my priorities for this session?
- What changes have taken place since my last session? What actions did I take, what were the outcomes, did I learn anything?
- How do I feel about these changes and the process so far?
- Are there other areas I’d like to explore?
4. Do your homework
Your coach cannot create the happiness, slim healthy body, rewarding career etc for you. You have to do the work. Expect to have to make changes that may make you feel uncomfortable at times. You’re engaging in the coaching process to challenge and stretch yourself to achieve your goals. The ‘homework’ is what will help drive you forward – that’s what you’re paying your coach to do. Your coach is investing a considerable amount of time and energy to help you succeed, so it’s important that you commit to being open minded and enthusiastic. Your coach will support and encourage you while you do the work. If you don’t do your part then your coach can’t do theirs.
5. Listen and ask for feedback
You don’t have to agree with everything that your coach says. It is important though to actively listen and avoid the urge to become defensive, interrupt or ‘switch off’. Actively listening, asking for and accepting feedback will help you gain confidence and boost your sense of empowerment. The feedback you receive will help you build on your strengths and improve weaknesses.
Your coach is there to support you as you find your own answers. Treat each and every session as an important event that you are absolutely determined to get the best value from and you will almost certainly reap the rewards.