Module 3: Preparing for a Coaching Session
Many coaches believe that, to make the most out of their first coaching sessions with clients, it’s important for clients to perform an honest self-assessment before they even have their first session. These coaches feel that new clients can’t just walk in empty-handed or they’ll waste time with basic questions. This is a bit of ‘homework’ they need to do in advance. In order to do a self-assessment, they need to ask themselves some questions about their business, their abilities and the coaching session itself.
Many other coaches feel that the first session should be a rapport building conversation without prior preparation.
Whichever approach you use, here are some topics which you will want to investigate early in your coaching relationship.
Your clients need to define their goals, both personal and professional. What do they expect to walk away with from the session? Once goals are defined, you can create clear expectations so that they can move forward and you can determine the best ways to help them.
If a client comes to you for coaching, there’s surely some obstacle they’re trying to overcome. Their assessment needs to clearly identify that obstacle that’s holding them back so that you both know what to focus on. If the obstacle isn’t obvious at first, but you’ll be able to help them identify it in your sessions.
Your client should think about and identify their strengths. What do they have going for them right now? What areas of their business are going well? What are they particularly skilled at? They should explain what kind of progress they’ve been making against current goals and obstacles.
Likewise, clients need to present to you the weaknesses in themselves and their business. Identifying areas where they’re struggling or have failed at in the past gives you a clear idea of where to focus attention. Where there’s a skill lacking or an overwhelming obstacle, it could mean a need to improve or a reason to shift direction.
Ask your client to brainstorm several ideas or identify one central idea they have for going forward. They will then bounce this idea off of you in your sessions and you’ll use your expertise and experience to help them decide whether it’s an appropriate choice or not. Sure, you’ll brainstorm more ideas during your sessions, but getting your client’s thought process started will make your time together more productive.
Your clients need to think about what kind of learning style they prefer. They should tell you what they expect out of each session, including how they’d like to conduct the sessions, the amount of structure they prefer, how much outside work they’re willing to do, etc.
If your clients have questions pertaining to their business or your coaching sessions, they should prepare these before the first session. Have them think about their top 3 questions so that you can address the most important issues first.
In addition to their self-assessment, your business coaching clients also need to give you a brief overview of their business. This should include their target market, their competitors, their business’s Unique Selling Proposition, data about revenue, costs, number of employees and so on. You need to know all of this before you can really help them, and spending time on details like these in your first session is not a good use of your time together.
At your initial pre-coaching session or the initial contact you have with a client, give them the Self-Assessment and the Business Overview worksheets and ask them to fill them out before you meet. Ask them to submit the worksheets to you before the first session so that you have time to review the information.
Give your clients plenty of time to think through the questions on the pre-session worksheets. This initial self-assessment gives you the basic information you need in an organized format. Then you’ll be able to review it and get straight to the business of coaching.