Friday, May 4, 2012

The Fine Art of Letting Your Client Do the Work

I often hear the interpretation of a coach’s support of a client and client’s goals/objectives/and aspirations go frankly way overboard.  Here’s an example:
“I’m so thrilled to hear you’re taking that assignment. What an inspiration you are for us all. I know you’ll be successful. I’ll work with you to make that happen. Here are some of my ideas.”

Whoops! Who is talking about whom? The coach immediately (it seems) has taken on her client’s achievement as if coach’s own in some way. Does this not take away from client being the center of the coaching conversation?

Other ways a coach can go overboard in support:
  • Being Directive. Coach giving instructions to client as to how to do/achieve/view some idea or another. As an evaluator I hear coaches who are anxious to ensure client success by giving helpful suggestions. So often this is way too much and not in the relationship of partners exploring options.
  • Effusive Cheerleading. Coach uses words like “great!!” (with much emphasis). I often hear this kind of reaction becoming a catalyst for coach shifting to coach’s point of view which may not be what client is experiencing.
  • No Acknowledgement. “Stepping Over the Obvious” is never an effective reaction to something that has happened, is happening or is important to client for some reason.
How does a coach support his/her client without making it about the coach?  Well, here are a few ideas for starters. My language may not be yours. The relationship of coach to client also determines how a coach approaches this kind of moment.

“Congratulations! I hear excitement in your voice.” (let client describe his/her own feelings)

“Here’s a high-five! What would you like me to know about your achievement?” (discover the underlying thoughts, ideas, emotions the client is experiencing)

“You worked very hard to reach this goal. I’m so pleased for you.” (adds just a personal touch to the coach/client relationship as it is at this point)

“Congratulations! What do you see now going forward?” (moving the conversation along)

Right now I’m doing research and writing about coaching.