Conducting a coaching session is infinitely easier when you are well prepared. What follows is a shortened version of a model that we have used in the past, which can help guide you when structuring a coaching program.
1. Pre-Session Review
Review Need(s). Review the information given to you from stakeholder(s) about what will be involved as part of this program. Is there anything else that you need to clarify before going into the first coaching session? Review the Coachee. Is there anything else that you need to know about the person that you will be coaching? Review Personality Assessment(s). If you are using any assessments as part of the process, it is important to read through and familiarise yourself with the content of their assessment results. Confirm Meeting. Confirming (or re-confirming) the meeting time and location one day out from your coaching session ensures there are no miscommunications and no one wastes the other person’s time. Materials. What materials/resources do you need to take with you to the coaching session? (E.g. writing journal for notes).
2. Open the Session When you open your coaching session, it is important to set the scene in the right way.
Break the Ice. With a quick game, activity, or small talk about topical news. The Agenda. This is the chance to clarify what the session is all about; what they would like to gain from this partnership and what you have to offer them. About Them. Have them talk about themselves, to get a feel for their values, beliefs and background, so that you can start to gauge any challenges that you are likely to face, opportunities for further discussion, and things to keep in mind as you go. About You. Talk a little about yourself (personality, background, interests) and anything else to help the coachee get to know you and be more comfortable. The Rules of Engagement. You may wish to include a summary of expectations as well as any terms & conditions signed by both you and the coachee in a written agreement (so that both parties understand the parameters, scope, and length of the partnership together).
3. GROW Conversation Once you’ve gotten to know the coachee, you can then follow the GROW model for guiding the conversation. All coaching conversations should be made up of four individual conversations:
G Goal. R Reality. O Obstacles & Options. W Way forward.
3a. Goal Conversation The first step is to establish the coachee’s goal. This should answer the question, “What do you want to achieve?” Then, once the coachee has named their goal, the SMART goal-setting model can be used for drilling down into the goal even further:
Specific: we need to clearly define the goal. Measurable: how we will measure the goal so we know when we have reached it. Attainable: the goal needs to be a stretch, but not beyond the coachee’s ability. Realistic: the goal must be within the bounds of reality. Time Bound: the goal needs to have a timeframe.
3b. Reality Conversation You now want to explore the current situation with the coachee. If the goal statement tells where you want to go, then the reality check describes the starting position. The gap between these two then constitutes the work that needs to be done. You can explore the reality by using the REAL model:
Review the Situation: have the coachee explain the situation as they see it. You might also ask them to describe the situation from a third party perspective. Explore the Evidence: have the coachee share the reasons why they believe the situation is the way it is and what evidence justifies this view point (without being condescending). Actions So Far: explore the actions that the coachee has taken so far towards their goal. What worked, what didn't, and why? Looking For: explore with the coachee what they are looking for from you as the coach.
3c. Obstacles/Options Conversation This conversation is about exploring the obstacles that are in the way from achieving what the coachee wants, and then to explore the options for overcoming these. Both Obstacles and Options usually reside in the 3 P’s:
Processes (routines, systems, procedures) People (personal, professional) Personal (mental, emotional, physical)
3d. Way Forward Conversation This is about what the coaching session has built up to. It is about the actions we need to take as a result of the goal, reality, and the obstacles/options that have been explored. The way forward should follow the STEPS model:
Steps: identify the action steps that need to be taken. Timing: examine the timeframe/sequence that each step needs to occur. Evaluation: outline how to evaluate each step and its success, as well as what needs to happen if they are unsuccessful in a step. People: identify the people that will be involved. Start: decide how and when they will start the way forward.
4. Record Answers When conducting the coaching session, it is incredibly important to record what is being said, to take lots of notes, and to keep a list other options that you might want to come back to later. You can record the key information from the session in separate journals (one for coach and coachee).
5. Review Session & Sign Action Plan The final part of a coaching session is to review the coaching session and what was covered. This will include a review of the action steps that the coachee needs to take and the deadline for completion. Have the coachee sign an 'Action Plan' document to ensure they feel accountable for moving towards their goal. Close out the session by scheduling the next time you will check in on their progress (via phone, email, or in person).