Several people have said to me in the past, “Well, we do coaching regularly but nothing changes”. Most people see the need for coaching so they do it, but for a lot of people the coach isn’t converted. The coach doesn’t have buy-in and at best ‘accepts’ that it needs to be done. The problem isn’t with the coachee (the person being coached) – it’s with the coach! These might be harsh words – but they are often true.

3d man with green ticks smallOne of the big traps to fall into is to get into a routine of doing something because it should be done. In a lot of cases, it might as well never be done for all the benefit that comes from it. Coaching is not a register. It’s not a checklist.

If our approach is all about making sure we coach a certain number of times and cover off the minimum number of points, we have done just that – we might have achieved our goal (coaching each team member every two weeks say) but our objective to help people improve performance has been missed by a mile.

So, when coaching, we need to have a purpose. Ask yourself the question, “What is it I really want to see as a result of this coaching session?” or “What will tell me this session has been worthwhile?” or even “What do I want to see next for this person?”

Have a Purpose

Have a purpose, have a reason for the coaching session to go ahead. This might need some planning time. Be prepared. The coachee deserves a bit of preparation. Sure, they need to be engaged too – but the onus is on you as the coach to run the session and direct the result.

Look to make the change in the individual. Rather than closing the session wondering if anything will be different from then on – have the goal that something will be different by the end of the session. Of course, this means you need to have some focus on what would be reasonable, what needs to change, how can you help the individual see the benefits of changing and how will you know that they are on board with it all. Well a lot of that will depend on your preparation or observation skills and on how you run the session.

Change your thinkingMeditate

Think about the times you have had a change of mind or found something new and from then on run with it. What about a restaurant that you love or a meal that’s become your favourite? Perhaps it is a new item of clothing, a movie, a book or a holiday destination. All of these things would once have been introduced to you at some point. Now before that time, something else was your favourite meal, your favourite movie etc. Now, however, it’s all different because you have changed you preference. You have had a new experience; you’ve seen something different in it that makes you prefer to do, say, eat or experience that over other options. That’s the sort of experience we should look to create with our coachees.

Rather than just ticking boxes, work at having effective conversations. What will make a change in this individual? How can I get them to really think about consequences (good or bad) for doing something? What impact will their behaviour have on the customer, their job or their colleagues? The sorts of questions we can look at in the following section will be ideal places to start where we look at how to Encourage Self Discovery.

For more on Coaching Effectively, check out or the book:  Coaching and Feedback Made Easy