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A practical toolkit for your coaching practice

In this blog, I want to share my thoughts on personal preparation and practicalities to support your coaching practice as professional and effective.

Practicalities:

•    Timekeeping: if you have to travel to a venue, ensure that you arrive there in plenty of time so that you can prepare the room and yourself for your coaching practice.  This includes making allowance for travel delays, checking road conditions and/or real-time train departures and arrivals when deciding when to leave your own starting point (home or office).

–    If the client is coming to your offices/home go to the room where you will be coaching in plenty of time to prepare the room and yourself.

•    Materials/resources – ensure that you have ready access to all the materials and resources you may need during your coaching practice, for example flipchart, paper and pens (for scaling, noting down ideas, action points), glasses of water.

•    Make sure that chairs are comfortable and positioned so that you and your coachee can see each other clearly without being so close that you risk invading each other’s space.

•    It is good practice to keep the business administration (how much, how and when to send invoices/make payments) of your coaching practice separate from the actual coaching sessions.

–    If you have the benefit of employing a secretary or administrator, it is best to refer all business administration to them and maintain your distance from these matters unless negotiations beyond their competence or role are required.

–    If you have to manage this yourself, try to ensure that these matters are fully agreed in advance of the coaching sessions.

–    All components of Terms and Conditions should be dealt with beforehand, before the coaching proper commences.

–    It makes sense to use PayPal, a debit or credit card rather than cash for payment.

Preparing yourself to coach

To ensure that you are wholly present for the client, try the following:

–    Centre yourself, focus on deep breathing and removing all distractions from your thoughts – this will lead to you asking better questions and being more able to pick up all the nuances of what your coachee is saying.

–    Remove any assumptions about your coachee, their progress since the last session, their personality, their issues.

–    Review and reflect upon any previous coaching sessions, your knowledge and understanding of the coachee.

–    If the client is new to you, where relevant, find out something about their organisation.

–   Put the client into the front of your mind and be ready to go into the session, without having to refer to notes from previous sessions.

–    If you are meeting a number of coachees, e.g. for a corporate client, know who you will seeing, and the order in which you expect them to attend.

–    Consider what information you may wish to exchange with client, in order to develop trust, and personal safety.

During the coaching session

•    Ensure that you remain open-minded and suspend judgement so that you are able to really hear what your coachee is saying – verbally and non-verbally.

•    Sit with your feet flat on the floor (not cross legged) with an upright posture (not slouching) so that you are physically demonstrating your focus on and interest in your coachee.

•    At the beginning of each session review contract, revisit confidentiality, your code of conduct, and reconfirm the coachees objectives from the session.

•    Agree with client how any notes you make are to be disposed of or retained – you could offer to give them your notes at the end of the coaching programme.

After the coaching session

•    Review and reflect on the session – what went well, what really worked, where you could have improved your coaching practice.

•    Maintain proper records with the minimum necessary information to enable you to issue accurate invoices and continue with the next session where you finished the last.

•    Identify and keep a note of any issues you will want to raise with your coaching supervisor.

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