Maximize the Opportunity

How To Get the Most from Coaching

1. Use this opportunity: Have an objective or goal for the coaching. This is a no-brainer if you’re hiring the coach yourself; if you didn’t have something in mind, you wouldn’t have contacted a coach. But if your company has hired the coach to work with you and is paying the bill, this can be an issue. The only objective that will really motivate you is the one you really want. Forget about what you should want. What is it you actually want out of this partnership?

2. Be engaged: Coaching isn’t something that’s done to you. It’s a tool you use. Talk about what’s working and especially what’s not working. I’ve received my best coaching when I’ve talked about something I didn’t want to talk about. I gave my coach the information they needed to coach me. When clients have the courage to do the same with me, and tell those uncomfortable truths, progress comes quickly.

3. Trust your coach: Be willing to try out his/her suggestions. Does coaching always work? Not in my experience. When I look back over the times when coaching fizzled I see times when the client didn’t try out the ideas that came out of our conversations. I see times when I noticed things that seemed important, made suggestions that seemed useful, and the client didn’t consider them. Frankly, the lesson out of that for me is that I need to be forceful enough at those times to either get the client’s attention or get fired for trying. The lesson for you would be, again, to be engaged in this process and act on what comes out of it.

4. If there’s a problem, say so: If you’re not satisfied with the results you’re producing say so. If your coach said or did something that ticked you off, say so. If you can’t have that level of honesty, why bother?

5. Trust yourself: Be open to your own intuition. Listen to your instincts. Be willing to decline, disagree with and argue your coach’s suggestions. The point of “trying out the coaching” is not to blindly do something your coach suggests. The point is to be engaged in the coaching. Your coach isn’t your manager assigned to tell you what to do. Your coach isn’t a consultant hired to develop a blue print of action for you. Your coach aims to help you identify things inside of you that can guide you.

If your coach suggests something that doesn’t make sense to you, doesn’t feel important, or strikes you as dumb, push back. Coaches aren’t necessarily right or “on the money” the first time. But if you’re willing to bang ideas around a bit, you’re assured of getting something useful.

6. Be accountable: My take on what constitutes “accountability” is different from most.  For me, here, it’s not a moral issue.  It’s not like being responsible.  For me, central to being accountable is being real.  Don’t fool yourself.  Don’t pretend.  Stay in touch with the reality of what you are doing and what you’re not doing.  If you do that, you’ll move toward the results you want.

7. Be responsible: Keep track of the commitments you make with your coach yourself. Don’t expect your coach to do that. You want to be accountable mostly to yourself, not someone else. Don’t cast your coach into the role of the commitment cop.

8. Include everything that matters in your conversations: You’ll be working on a business or career goal. Many personal issues appear unrelated to that goal, so you’ll leave them out of the coaching conversation. But many personal issues have a profound impact on your energy and motivation. If you want your coach to be helpful, include everything that matters.

9. Utilize your resources: You know that book that three people have said was great? Read it. You know that workshop your boss recommended? Consider it. You know that suggestion your spouse has made 18 times? Try it out. Expect that every close relationship is supporting you in having the life you want. Listen for that.

10. Be prepared: Prepare a pre-coaching update report. Some coaches are gifted at making any conversation with them incredibly useful. Don’t rely on that. Come to the conversation aware of what you want to get out of it.

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