Module 1: Intaking Your Coaching Clients
Coaching takes a great deal of preparation and outside work, but the most important things will get done during the coaching session itself. In order to make them worth your client’s time and money, your coaching sessions need to be as efficient and focused as possible. A time will come when all of this is second nature, but when you’re just starting out as a coach, it takes some conscious effort to run good coaching sessions.
Every good coaching session has an agenda. Coaches don’t just improvise. The exact structure of your agenda is something you may want to discuss with the client before the first session. An agenda defines the basic flow of each session. An example would be:
- Greeting / warm up / opening discussion questions (to get your client thinking about today’s topic)
- Summary of issues from last sessions / review of progress / questions from client
- Discussion on how to move forward
- Defining next action steps
- Cooling down and preparing for next session (including confirming day and time)
Each coach has a slightly different agenda template and one reason it’s helpful to take a coaching session yourself is to see how an experienced coach does this. You can use your personal coaching experience to create your own agenda template.
Keep it short, but make sure that each session has a greeting. Say hello to the client and chat for a minute or two. The point is to build rapport and get both of you into the zone for the session. Many coaches use this chatty introduction to get the client ready for today’s topic. They may give the client an opening question to get them thinking about today’s topic. The most important thing is to create a level of comfort.
Reviewing the client’s progress is extremely important. At some point during the session, you should discuss with them the objectives and action steps from the last session and follow up with them on what progress they’re making with these. Aside from telling you what they did and how they felt about it, they should provide some concrete data as well, such as traffic analytics or sales figures.
Most coaches ask their clients what challenges they’re facing or what areas they need particular help with. A client may not clearly understand these themselves so you may have to draw it out of them. They may simply feel that things aren’t going well but they’re not sure why.
Provide your client feedback by focusing on what they’ve done well and what needs work. Whenever you discuss what they’re doing, it’s good to ask them first before you give them your ideas. Ask questions such as, “Why do you think that’s happening?” or “What ideas have you already considered for dealing with that?” You should then give your opinions on their ideas, which ones you think would work, and any ideas of your own. Give constructive suggestions and follow them up by confirming with the client. Ask them to repeat back to you what they need to do so that you’re sure they understand.
The result of your suggestions should be clearly defined action steps that the client needs to take. The two of you should agree on these together. This gives them a roadmap to follow for the next session. There may be action steps for you as the coach to take as well.
Don’t think of yourself as telling your clients what to do. Rather, the two of you are working together to discover the right course of action. What you bring to the table is your experience and knowledge. Always try to focus on the positives and the progress your client is making. As they struggle to move forward with their business, they often lose sight of the progress they’ve made and become discouraged. Seeing their progress also ensures that a client will be happy with your services.