Nowa­days, every­one gets some lev­el of coach­ing, whether it’s get­ting you up to speed in your new role or a ful­ly trained coach­ing con­sul­tant who spe­cialis­es in lead­er­ship. Coach­ing is an impor­tant tool to call upon when you need a lit­tle more sup­port or guidance.

Whether you lead a team, men­tor a col­league, or just get asked for friend­ly advice now and then, learn­ing the skills of the trade is valu­able to any­one who helps and sup­ports oth­ers. This blog will help you refine your coach­ing style with our top three tips:

1. Listen

The Inter­na­tion­al Coach Fed­er­a­tion defines active lis­ten­ing as: 

“The abil­i­ty to focus com­plete­ly on what the client is say­ing and is not say­ing. To under­stand the mean­ing of what is said in the con­text of the clien­t’s desires. To sup­port client self-expression.”

Coach­ing should not be lim­it­ed to dic­tat­ing feed­back, iden­ti­fy­ing prob­lems and jump­ing to giv­ing advice. Coach­ing should be a shared jour­ney to find solu­tions by work­ing through chal­lenges and obsta­cles, together.

In order to do this well, you need to lis­ten.

It is not your role to inter­ro­gate or solve the prob­lem your­self. Encour­age self-reflec­tion and prob­lem-solv­ing by ask­ing open and prob­ing ques­tions to iden­ti­fy needs and goals. Lis­ten­ing atten­tive­ly allows you to iden­ti­fy feel­ings and empathise with your coachee in a calm and curi­ous man­ner. This will help you make a greater impact on your coachee as you will tru­ly under­stand their beliefs, needs, con­cerns, and perceptions.

Top tip! Through­out the coach­ing con­ver­sa­tion, sum­marise and para­phrase the con­ver­sa­tion. This will let your coachee know you are engaged in their devel­op­ment, under­stand their needs, and ensure that the con­ver­sa­tion stays on track with your coachees goals.


2. Plan goals

This is your time to cre­ate a frame­work for mea­sur­ing goals and suc­cess­es. It is impor­tant to cre­ate a foun­da­tion for oppor­tu­ni­ties for growth that have been iden­ti­fied by your coachee. Decide on the devel­op­ment area, why they would like to devel­op, and what out­comes they feel this will have. 

It is also impor­tant to talk about career aspi­ra­tions so that you can build skills that may be use­ful for the future, and ensure that they are invest­ed in devel­op­ing longer-term goals. This is espe­cial­ly impor­tant if you are only coach­ing them for a short peri­od of time, and will make sure they con­tin­ue their devel­op­ment work after you part ways.

Top tip! Focus­ing on only weak­ness­es when you plan goals can be demo­ti­vat­ing. Only address­ing weak­ness­es sends the wrong mes­sage to your coachee. By focus­ing on strengths, also, can rein­force good behav­iours and fur­ther devel­op their strengths whilst mak­ing them feel valued. 

3. Objectify feedback

Objec­tive feed­back con­sists of spe­cif­ic and mea­sur­able points that pro­vide infor­ma­tion about per­for­mance. Objec­tive feed­back is key for encour­ag­ing self-reflec­tion. As human beings we heav­i­ly rely on sub­jec­tive feed­back when mak­ing deci­sions, how­ev­er, our sub­jec­tive feed­back is often bias and can be influ­enced by a num­ber of fac­tors includ­ing, mem­o­ry, emo­tions, and per­cep­tion. For exam­ple, a pes­simistic per­son could feel they per­formed poor­ly, yet their per­for­mance had a num­ber of key strengths they failed to pick up on due to their own sub­jec­tive feedback. 

This can often work as a bar­ri­er to suc­cess­ful coach­ing rela­tion­ships caus­ing the coach and coachee to dis­agree on key per­for­mance aspects. 

Objec­tive feed­back is very pow­er­ful as it helps coachees iden­ti­fy where change needs to hap­pen with­out too much inter­fer­ence from the coach. It favours facts and rea­son over thoughts and feel­ings and gives a clear indi­ca­tion as to why devel­op­ing a cer­tain skill or behav­iour will have a pos­i­tive impact.

When feed­back is pro­vid­ed in this man­ner, the coachee is much more like­ly to devel­op their skills and behav­iours accord­ing­ly, while pro­vid­ing their own foun­da­tion for progress.

Top tip! Use video to pro­vide real work­place-based, objec­tive feed­back. Allow your coachee to watch them­selves in action and objec­tive­ly iden­ti­fy key areas of their per­for­mance. Then use open and prob­ing ques­tion to help them high­light the impact of those record­ed behaviours.

Inter­est­ed in fur­ther devel­op­ing your coach­ing and men­tor­ing rela­tion­ships? Down­load our guide, here.

Our top 3 tips for per­fect­ing your coach­ing delivery
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