If you have clicked on this blog post chances are you are asking yourself how do you know your coaching is working.
Coaching is a profession which is coming in to its own, more and more people access coaching and more people are becoming coaches. Once dominated by executives and very senior management, coaching is now offered to many people and covers many areas of life from business to life coaching and everything in between. This makes it more important that we know how to check if our coaching works. Training programmes to become a coach are diverse and although there is are a number of accreditation bodies, it is not mandatory to be on a register.
So, how do we self-monitor and how do we know our coaching is working?
Here are some of my ideas on how we can check that our coaching is achieving the best for the client:
Ask the client
How the client perceives the session is good feedback. Some clients will tell you immediately if your coaching is working, It seems obvious to ask the client for feedback, and this was the favoured response in a recent Twitter poll. However, for novice coaches this can be quite challenging. In coaching supervision I often hear coaches ask what to do if the client says you are terrible. It is unlikely that this will happen, but the client is paying for a service it is important for them, and for us to know that our coaching is working. If you feel uncomfortable asking this straight out there are a number of ways of checking out progress. You can ask the client to review how close they are to their goals, you can review the initial contact aims or use a session to recap and renew goals.
How did you feel the session went? Some sessions, which feel uncomfortable aren’t necessarily bad, but the feelings that arise for us during coaching are important data and they give us feedback on how something is progressing. If you suddenly feel something isn’t going well, do you check that feeling out with the client. For example if you feel that things are going off track and you feel uncomfortable reflect that to the client.
As a body oriented, somatic practitioner, this is a key intervention my practice. I take notice of the feelings that emerge for me and do check these out with clients. For example, I may say ‘I am feeling uncomfortable and distracted, I wonder what is going on for you at the moment?
Journalling after the session can give us a lot to reflect on. Especially trying some of the free writing techniques that I have spoken about in previous blogs for example writing under the heading ‘how do I know my coaching is working?’ for 10 minutes without censoring yourself. This type of writing allows us to express some of the thoughts that we try to ‘clean up’ but often these thoughts can give us insight in to our practice. Especially if we look at themes that crop up through our writing.
My favourite is supervision, this really helps us to understand if our coaching is working. This is the opportunity to engage with a skilled coaching professional who has trained in supervision. During the session you can really explore your practice as a coach, explore different perspectives and reflect on how you work. You can also speak in a confidentially about the things you find difficult. This is important as it these areas that will get in the way of our coaching practice being effective. A book I have found invaluable is The Complete Handbook of Coaching.
These options do not need to be taken in isolation, I believe that they all help us think about how we practice and how that practice impacts on the client. The top 3 offer great insights to take to supervision. We can never be 100% sure that our coaching is working, but as open reflective practitioners we are offering the best chance to our clients. If you would like to talk to me about my coaching supervision service, do get in touch