In the second post of this series, I look at developing the good habit of being prepared for your coaching, so you can maximise the time with your coach. 

This helps you hit the ground running, and both you and your coach can make a positive and strong start with your work together.

Here are some thoughts on preparation …

1) What questions do you still have?

You may have asked all your questions during your consultation or ‘discovery session’, but sometimes you think of something afterwards.

For example …

  • How long do sessions last?
  • Do you know the frequency of your sessions?
  • Is there anything your coach would like you to prepare in advance of your first session, and subsequent sessions?

What else might you need to know?

Ideally, it’s a good idea to email your questions over to the coach to answer before your first session, so you don’t take up the first part of the session in a Q & A dialogue.

2) Venue preparation

If the session is being held at your venue (work-place / home, etc) ensure the space you’ll be working in is confidential and is somewhere that you won’t be interrupted.

This is vital!  The nature of coaching involves levels of thinking and reflection, which require both coach and coachee to be highly focused. Any interruptions will disturb this, and have the potential to reduce or halt any key learning.

For example … Imagine you’re in a coaching session and you’re on the brink of discovering the real reason why you avoid difficult conversations at work. Then there’s a knock on your door from a colleague asking if you’d like a drink … and suddenly you lose your train of thought. It’s gone!

‘Do not disturb’ signs on the door at work are not always followed. Other spaces may have other distractions. If the coach is choosing the place for coaching, it’s their responsibility to ensure confidentiality and minimal chance of disruptions. But if you’re choosing the space, or it’s your house/place of work that would be down to you.

Let colleagues / family members know that you’re really not available during the coaching time!

Coaching goals3) Prepare your coaching topic

It’s important that you come with an idea of what you want to be coached on.

Your coach should have started to look into this with you in your initial session … or at least identified that your topic or focus for coaching is a suitable coaching topic, and not something more suitable for counselling, for example.

Also start to think about timescales for achieving your coaching goal, and perhaps what you’d like to start working on in the first session. Don’t worry if you aren’t clear on this. Your coach should be equipped with the skills and tools to help you.

As a minimum … have your coaching topic or general coaching area ready to bring to your first coaching session.

4) Have an open mind

Experience has shown me that the more open you are to new possibilities, and different ideas, the more likely you are to achieve your goals/targets.

Even if you end up going with your first idea, you are more confident and secure with your final decision because you’ve been open to exploring and discounting other ideas as part of the process.

Having an open mind also allows you to adapt your goals to something more suitable if, during the coaching process, a more relevant area emerges.

It also allows you to be open to being challenged and learning new things about yourself.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how open-minded are you usually to new ideas?

5) Making notes

Have some way of recording your learning in sessions and beyond (more of the latter in a later post).

I encourage clients to bring a notebook or other form of recording to sessions, so they can record key learning points, or anything else they find useful. Usually they record new learning or ‘Wow’ moments. 

Of course you don’t have to make notes. Some clients I work with don’t want to make any notes during the sessions, they’d rather focus purely on being in the moment, and make any notes afterwards. That’s fine.

Others (like me!) like to make notes to aid memory and learning. I find it also helps with organising my thoughts. It really all depends on how you learn best and remember things.

What helps to cement the nuggets of learning and development that take place in coaching for you?

How do you record follow-up actions?

The main thing is – remember that you are responsible for recording your own learning.

Your coach may also be making notes but it’s not the coach’s responsibility to make session notes and pass them on to you.

The next post in this series will continue the theme of roles and responsibilities of coach and coachee (mainly the coachee!)