Coaching supports meaningful change. Often this change is brought about by specific techniques and tools, which coaches learn during coach training and model for their clients. Coaches should share what they are doing, being completely transparent about the techniques they are using. In this way, clients can learn many of these techniques and in turn apply them in different situations. Here are some examples of common coaching goals and the techniques used to achieve them.
Conflict management. Imagine a client is dealing with a major conflict. A coach will have the client list the issues both from his or her perspective and the opposing party’s. The coach then works with the client to brainstorm multiple solutions. During the brainstorming, the coach asks the client what solutions he thinks the other person might suggest. After that, the coach asks the client which of the options will work for both parties. Finally, the coach and the client decide upon action steps. Ideally, the client will have gained awareness of the opposing party’s viewpoint and be able to propose new solutions. The client and the coach may then talk through the specific steps of this technique so the client is prepared for using it in his conversation with the other person.
Business budgeting. While coaches cannot take on the role of financial advisors, the Certified Master Coach program at the Center for Coaching Certification does train participants on budgeting processes and tools. It’s wise for coaches to feel informed and competent in this area, as all clients must handle money in some way, and sometimes money management is a barrier in the way of clients’ personal or professional goals.
First, a coach will discuss the tools and processes the client currently uses for budgeting at work. Then they might examine the client’s actual budget together. The coach should ask the client to research each budget item as if he or she were creating the budget for the first time. For example, for payroll, the client could ask the HR department for information on salaries, benefits, and expected increases. For utilities, the client could check with vendors on expected pricing changes.
A client may also want her coach to dedicate a session to enhancing her understanding of the financial statements that she is expected to review and discuss in meetings. The coach will review the financial statements with the client and discuss each one. As the client considers them, she builds her confidence in her ability to speak intelligently about them. For example, the client may state that she is confused about accrual accounting reports, so the coach asks the client about how she logs expenses for her department. Describing her approach, the client realizes that she is using an accrual process wherein income is listed when earned instead of received, and expenses are listed when incurred instead of when paid. Next the client and coach might consider the balance sheet. The coach asks how it could be useful, and the client considers how it provides an overview of organizational assets and liquidity. The client realizes the balance sheet is the “big picture” of the organization’s finances.
As they wrap up the session, the coach and client might also discuss resources for learning more about business budgeting and financial statements.
Another approach is to have clients define what they want in all areas of their lives. This is an empowering conversation focused on proactively creating the future. Coaches will work with their clients to create a visualization or affirmation tool.
An experiential process for building confidence is often beneficial as well. A coach works with the client to plan small achievements and self-affirming interactions.
Self-reflection. Self-reflection is a powerful tool for supporting meaningful change. Techniques coaches use to promote self-reflection include exploring a client’s values and then considering how her choices align with those values. During this conversation a client should become aware of incongruences between her values and realities, and is thereby empowered to make different choices and plan appropriately.
Assessments can also enable self-reflection. Assessments may focus on values, personality characteristics, or specific skills. A coach works with the client to make sense of the feedback from the assessments and create an action plan for working on opportunity areas.
Delegation. Delegation is a skill that all managers must learn, but that many struggle with. Often coaches are asked to help their clients develop this skill. A coach may start out by working with her client to create an organizational chart of the client’s team. Together, they define the responsibilities of each employee, including the client himself. The coach asks the client to consider how much time he devotes to each responsibility. Then they discuss what would happen if he delegated the tasks supporting each responsibility. This gives the client insight as to which tasks he should continue doing and which to start delegating. Then the client and the coach discuss to whom each task could be delegated, and how that would affect the employee’s current workload.
The client may say that while certain tasks should logically be delegated to certain people, he lacks confidence in their ability to handle the work. The coach asks the clients about the best and worst possible outcomes of delegating to these people. She also asks what would happen if he did not delegate to them. The client decides he is going to begin with delegating where he has the most confidence. In the next coaching session, they might strategize how the client could get employees up to speed for handling the work. This might include training, mentoring, coaching, or reallocating duties to maximize the use of different talents. They also discuss the best process for delegating tasks: Instead of simply assigning them in meetings, the client decides to sit down with each individual and describe his confidence in that person, and explain his reason for assigning particular tasks to him or her.
These are just a few examples of techniques that coaches use in sessions with their clients, and how these techniques are in turn used by the clients as they apply their strategies. What are some other examples of coaching goals and techniques you can share?
Read more on coaching from Cathy Liska.
This blog was originally published in March 2014 and has since been updated with new information and resources.