“The reality of the other person is not what he reveals to you, but in what he cannot reveal to you. Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he has to say but rather what he does not say.” Khalil Gibran
Sometimes coaching relationships develop naturally and quickly. From the beginning, there is ‘chemistry' between the two. You think alike, have similar perspectives and quickly develop mutual trust. More often, these relationships develop over time and your partnership must be cultivated.
It is considered, by most coaches, that the responsibility for making the relationship work belongs to the coach. And whilst that may be true, it takes two hands to clap, and you need to play your part too.
Imagine that you are stressed out, overworked, overly pressured and don't get the recognition you deserve. This may be so close to reality that you won't find it hard to imagine! You want to grow in your career, but trapped by your current lifestyle and there's a genuine fear that you may be close to burning out. One day, a friend mentions that she has been helped by a coach and suggests that you do the same. At first, you resist. You've seen the hundreds of articles and adverts promising a silver bullet solution to organise your life, reach your dreams, orchestrate your career and get on top of your life.
You wonder if seeing a coach is an admission of desperation… but the opposite is probably true. Coaching is recommended more to people who have real potential for growth and promotion but could use help in reclaiming control of their time, move through transitions with confidence, improve their leadership skills, grow through change, reexamine values or sharpen their working styles.
The more resistant, skeptical and hesitant you are, the harder your coach has to work to build the essential level of trust to be effective. The longer you allow this process to take (by resisting) the longer it will take for your coach to really help you.
It can be daunting for you. But preparing your mindset and being open to the possibility that your chosen coach can help you goes a long way to allowing them to start the real work. That's what this filed-guide is all about.
Your first meeting with your coach (or prospective coach) is crucial: it is about getting to know each other, seeing whether the chemistry works, finding commonalities and establishing the ground rules by going through the coaching agreement.
Typical agenda for the first meeting
- Introductions (background, experience, common interests)
- Ground rules (what is acceptable and what is not)
- Objectives (for the meeting and for the relationship)
- Review of the your current situation and personal SWOT analysis
- Discussion on learning/coaching styles
- When, where and how often to meet
- Actions (things to be done before the next meeting)
- Date of next meeting
If the first meeting works, then you will continue to meet, being mindful and respectful of what was agreed. Having a structure to follow for the meetings help you with preparation, for building confidence in each other and for having a productive relationship.
Getting to know you
In your fist meeting with your coach, you can expect your coach to ask you variations of some or all of the following questions:
- Tell me about yourself
- What is going on in your life?
- What would you like to be different?
- What would you like us to talk about?
You can find a fairly typical “Getting to know you” pre-engagement profile or personal information form.
A number of coachees overlook this important aspect of the coaching agreement. Defining expectations and monitoring them on a regular basis is important so as to avoid disappointment and to strengthen the relationship.
Your responsibility as the coachee
- To be challenged and stretched, to think more deeply and perhaps learn to be more ambitious
- To respect appointments and the coaching agreement
- To follow through with actions (homework)
- A degree of friendship as your coach needs to feel comfortable with you.
- To be prepared for the coaching relationship
- To challenge the coach in a constructive manner so as to build a mutually beneficial and interesting relationship
- To use coach's time wisely
- To give constructive feedback on the quality of the relationship and on the effectiveness of the feedback