Effective coaching is depending on a reliable and valid structure that brings the same effect each time is applied. This structure is a roadmap which helps to recognize and navigate the stage where client is at each moment and what’s ahead of him/her. There are many models of personal, executive and leadership coaching available which help to understand a coaching process. They incorporate necessary ingredients of coaching including coaching relationship, evaluation of goals, coaching skills, attitudes, learning process and ethical aspects (Wang, 2013). Dembkowski & Eldridge (2006) cultivate the belief that the understanding of coaching process and methodology by both coach and the client can bring sustainable and effective outcomes each time applied. This paper focuses on simple steps for systematic use and explanation of the coaching process to each client.
Effective Coaching Steps
Step 1. Coaching Process & Current Situation
This initial step is necessary for both coach and the client, it explains the relationship between the parties. During this step coach explains the expectations and clarifies the understanding of the coaching process and methodologies used (Payne, 2007). Also, coach explains policies, ethics, boundaries, confidentiality and ways of communication. Additionally, coach is starting to build rapport with the client by utilizing listening skills and asking questions about the current situation (Wang, 2013). Client is invited to share his/her perspective of what was happening in the past, what’s happening now and reasons behind hiring a coach (Dembkowski, 2006). It’s a perfect time to gain information about client’s background, belief system, life stage, sociocultural context, worldview and expectations (Wang, 2013). Finally, it’s a time to find out who else would be affected by coaching process (stakeholders).
Step 2. Assessment & Understanding
This step helps the coach to understand the client better by applying assessment instruments like Emotional Intelligence test, Stress Assessment, 360 Survey or Personality test. Also, coach by probing questions detects the level of motivation and the level of competence of the client, his/her strengths and weaknesses (Payne, 2007). Additionally, this step involves the brainstorming for ideas and possibilities of solving the current situation, shifting from “tunnel vision” into “spacious vision” (Dembkowski & Eldridge, 2006). Through constructive feedback on assessments client deepens self-awareness and with hypothetical questions can start thinking creatively and outside of the box. Coach is engaging with listening skills, observing verbal and non-verbal cues, generate powerful questions and offers techniques to trigger the discovery of true purpose of coaching.
Step 3. Setting Goals
After assessment and understanding of client’s needs, coach and client are establishing the purpose of the coaching with goals focused on specific area for example: building particular skills, improving performance, developing certain talents, overcoming conflicts and obstacles, improving decision making, or encouraging achievement and improve morale (Payne, 2007). Setting up SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) will help to create clarity about the goal setting (Dembkowski & Eldridge, 2006). For each goal coach will find the level of motivation (readiness) and the obstacles preventing the client from achieving them (limiting beliefs).
Step 4. Coaching Agenda & Options
At this stage client already has gained clarity about the goal (goals). Next step is to visualize how fast this goal can be achieved, what are the resources available for achieving the goal and what is the best way for the client to achieve the goal. Wang (2013) writes about keeping client’s agenda, which includes asking questions about how coach exactly could help the client, what are the expectations of client towards the coach and the process, how often client would like to meet up with the coach and what is the duration of the coaching relationship. During this step coach might share with the client board with first draft of steps needed to achieve the specific goal based on the client’s words, phrases about goals and any obstacles that need to be reframed. Asking either/or and hypothetical questions and reflecting back to the client might create even deeper understanding of the goals and might lead to discovering other ways of achieving measurable outcomes. Coach will use summary questions for creating a flow and transition from one topic to the other (Payne, 2007).
Step 5. Design a Solid Action Plan
Based on all information gained, level of readiness and motivation of the client, coach will offer a designed solid plan of action. This plan will be specific and aligned with goals. It will incorporate specific time frame, expected results, resources needed, coaching support and allow space for course corrections (Payne, 2007). Coach at this stage will use different techniques to help client in progress of the goal. It requires full commitment the client (Dembkowski & Eldridge, 2006). This step also will point out the milestones and evaluation of achievement.
Step 6. Supervision, Execution & Celebration of Progress
Final step in the coaching process is connected to execution of the action plan. Main role of the coach is to be present and encourage the client into action (Dembkowski & Eldridge, 2006). When necessary coach needs to focus on reinforcement, inspiration, motivation by checking-in, demonstrating interest and dedication to the process. It’s important for coach to observe the client for the degree the client is involved in the process, sometimes additional coaching is needed, or additional way of communication required (Payne, 2007). It’s also necessary to reward the client for noticeable shifts in behavior, keeping the track of these special moments. Keep the high level of commitment and accountability for the action plan and encourage to ask questions (Payne, 2007).
Structured coaching sessions bring effectiveness into the coaching process. Structure is a roadmap, a backbone for development of the coaching process and it’s flexible. It helps to recognize, understand and steer the coaching process based on each individual client. It helps the coach to stay focused on the client and goals as well as stay professional during the coaching relationship.
Written by: Ania Haas
Dembkowski S., Eldridge F. (2006). The Achieve Model- a Systematic Approach to Greater Effectiveness in Executive Coaching.
Payne, V. (2007). Chapter 3: The Coaching Process, Steps One to Four. In Coaching for High Performance (pp. 41–55). American Management Association International
Payne, V. (2007). Chapter 4: The Coaching Process, Steps Five to Seven. In Coaching for High Performance (pp. 57–77). American Management Association International.
Qing Wang. (2013). Structure and characteristics of effective coaching practice. Coaching Psychologist, 9(1), 7–17.