What people need from coaching varies greatly, and it is important to clarify, from the start, what the coaching is for, and how it is going to help.

‘Building awareness, responsibility and self-belief is the goal of a coach.' Sir John Whitmore

What people need from coaching varies greatly, and it is important to clarify, from the start, what the coaching is for, and how it is going to help.

If this is a coachee's first session, we will want to look at their current situation and what they would like to get out of the coaching session. One of my intentions is that, at the end of the session, they are surprised at how much ground they have covered – and how quickly the time has gone by!

If they have had a previous experience of coaching, it is important that, in their work with me, they gain fresh insights that build on the previous work.

Another good use for coaching is the opportunity it gives the coachee to stand back and take a more objective look at their working life, to see if the path they are on really is right and heading where they want it to go. And, if not, how to make adjustments or devise workable strategies for change.

Coaching can be really useful as part of the 360 degree feedback process, so that the learning from the process can be fully understood and translated into productive and meaningful action.

Similarly, after having undertaken a psychometric test, either privately or as part of a management training or MBA course, a coachee may want to look deeply at the findings, to absorb them and to work out how to take their learning forward.

Coaching works best if we can meet, however, working on the telephone or online can also be very effective, particularly if we meet once first.

Coaching scenarios

Coaching can be productive in a wide range of situations:

  • A business coach wanted to ensure that he engaged appropriately with his clients. He realised that his anxiety about keeping work coming in meant that he tried to turn them into friends. He discovered how to work well with existing clients, to end well with a client and to find the motivation to find new clients.
  • The owner of a family company needed an external sounding board so as to make decisions that were right for the company rather than for the more vocal family members.
  • The sole female on an otherwise male Board of Directors found that her ideas were not heard until one of the men expressed them. She learnt how to be listened to and heard. In addition, she learnt to trust her team and delegate to them more, thus freeing up more of her time to focus on strategy and planning and to develop even stronger ideas, too.
  • An army major, now in a civilian board level position, knew he needed to bring the best of his training and experience to the job while accepting he could not always do it the army way.
  • A management trainer wanted to get the balance right between delivering the training he loved and ensuring he took the time to keep up to date with a changing market so he could quickly re-position his business to keep relevant.
  • The male clerk to a city council had an all-female staff who did not respect him as he tried to be their friend. He learnt how to lead and command respect and so found greater enjoyment in his work and became much more productive.
  • The owner of a medium-sized business had become bored. He wanted to find enthusiasm and motivation again and, in so doing, he re-energized the business, too.
  • Having accepted redundancy, a senior manager wanted to think about her career path, rather than just plunging into job-hunting in the same market. She decided to accept a position in a related field which gave her more spare time to develop interests that had fallen by the wayside in her high-pressure position.
  • A career-minded woman found she was unexpectedly pregnant in her 40's. She wanted to help herself and her team manage the transition to a different way of working in the coming months.
  • A 30s man was given feedback that he had some areas to improve on before applying for a soon-to-be-available position that his employer wanted him to be eligible for.
  • Organisations often use 360 degree feedback and personality profiling now for assessment. An employee often wants to take a deeper look at the implications of the feedback they have received.

Building awareness, responsibility and self-belief is the goal of a coach.

Sir John Whitmore