The Basics of a Coaching Session

Before each session with a client, some of your time will be consumed by creating a call strategy and if you want, a checklist. This will involve the skills listed above. Here is a brief list of items for your coaching sessions:

Establish clarity

Make sure you understand what the client is saying, feeling and trying to achieve in your session. This involves asking questions and summarizing the answers in the client’s own words.

Leave no stone unturned

Focus on one area can leave others overlooked. As a coach, you can help to widen the horizon through questions like “Is there anything else to consider?”, or “Do you know enough to move forward on this?”.

Listen more than you talk

You are coaching, not teaching. There may be teaching moments, but neuroscience has proven that telling or instructing alone isn’t what moves the needle with humans, it’s allowing the coachee to come to their “aha-moment” themselves, with the help of the coaches’ leading questions.

The better we listen, the better the questions we ask and the higher the chances that our coachees will gain insight. Insight is what motivates humans to action, not instruction.

Confirm commitment

A verbal agreement is good, but only useful if your client is committed to take action toward achieving their goals. During the session, listen for verbal and nonverbal cues.

Ensure accountability

Goals without target dates and actions remain dreams. Make sure you establish an action plan in writing with SMART goals (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, time-bound). The client owns the action and the goals. You as the coach help the client stay on track, remove obstacles, and make progress.

The linked neuroscience article above also explains how insight motivates us to action, but that initial motivation lasts only for a short time. To change or extend that effect, it is important to set actions during the coaching session, towards the end. Ensure that the client writes them down and encourage sharing plans with others (where the topic permits it).

Celebrate and double-check achievements

You may not think this is critical, but achiever-type clients can get so involved in working on their goals that they miss acknowledging their achievements. Other times, you may find that the client marks a tick in the box when in reality, there is still more work to do.

When there is still dissatisfaction, lack of clarity or hesitation to move forward, you have good indicators that there is more ground to cover. Ask probing questions at the end of your sessions, to “check the temperature” and see if your client is content with the result of the session or if there is more to work out on the topic.