Coaching - whether it’s as an intrinsic part of a coaching culture or as a more informal interaction between individuals - has to follow certain paths. I won’t call them rules, as the very idea of rules when applied to coaching makes no sense to me. Coaching is too personal and too individual to be bound by ‘rules’.
The paths that give a coaching conversation its structure are something that the coach has to keep in mind, particularly when the coach is new to the role, or doesn’t have as much opportunity to practice.
The first of these is to establish the desired outcome; to gain a clear understanding of what will make a success out of the intervention. In corporate terms we are generally looking at improved performance.
Secondly, we should seek to establish a plan; a schedule for the changes or a timeline that will culminate in the desired outcome. However, all the planning in the world won’t achieve much if there isn’t a clear and well-defined goal, as established in the first part of the coaching.
Once an outcome has been defined, and a timeline has been decided, it’s important to allow the client to practice or play out the skills that will move them towards the desired outcome. You don’t generally learn new skills by talking about them, but role-play or other methods of simulating the skills will help embed them, greatly enhancing the chances of a positive result in the shortest time possible.
The coach’s role is to ask…not to tell.
A final path…the coach should always seek to recognise and reward progress towards the chosen goal, and to acknowledge the efforts being made in the right direction.
As you can see, these are directives that allow a huge amount of latitude in how they are applied. Every transaction between a coach and client is different, and will be coloured by influences both external and within both parties. Taking this into consideration should always be a part of the coaching process; something that is not always easy to achieve, but should always be worked towards.