People often ask me what happens in a coaching session. The easy answer is I work with clients (coachees) through a process that facilitates greater awareness leading to identified goals.
But lets take a closer look at how it really works. I have adapted a process I learned in my training at university. I call it the Five C’s. Each of the five steps is critical in moving through a process of discovery and accountability.
It starts with connect. At our first meeting, the focus is on creating a trusting relationship. There are ground rules including confidentiality that we establish as well as the logistics of the relationship. These include schedule and understanding of the coaching parameters. Most importantly, it tells us whether we are a good fit for working together (which is why I always begin with a complimentary session). In the first and in fact every session, we work on creating a contract. Not a legal contract but an agreed upon focus for the session (i.e. issue, goals, outcomes).
Once we have connected, we move to exploring whatever issue is within the contract. I listen closely to the information the coachee is sharing with me. I assist by asking questions to get underneath the issue – what is really at play and what perspectives may be inhibiting moving forward. This stage of clarify is critical for both the coachee and me to better understand the issue. It takes curiousity – listening and questioning – to discover what may be motivating or hindering change, or simply unlocking what the real issue may be. A lot of work? Yes, but this is what I call the meaty part. If the coachee doesn’t fully understand the problem then it will be tricky moving toward realistic solutions or possibilities.
The next stage is to co-create new possibilities and what an impossible future will look like. It means brainstorming ideas and working through to a focus. This is done through careful listening and powerful questions on my part. This is generally the creative part of the Five C process. It is highly motivating for both of us as we work toward the future.
This leads to the creation of an action plan. I call it the catalyze phase because it almost always generates a tangible path forward. Like all plans, this means testing out it out in a number of ways. Then of course adjusting the plan as necessary.
The final stage is to commit. The coachee commits to the plan, practicing it and playing with it. I commit to holding the coachee accountable. How is this done? I follow up with the coachee in subsequent sessions or between sessions to ensure they are fully on track with their commitment. If something is not working well, we readjust the plan and continue to move forward. Again, I listen carefully to the experience of the coachee and ask questions to solidify their learning and commitment.
The five C’s isn’t always a linear approach. Sometimes we need to go back a few steps within a session to re-affirm or adjust the contract. We may need to continually clarify the issue until we get to a powerful “aha” moment. No matter how we move through the process, it is meant to be purposeful, deliberate and with outcomes.
My role is to be the coachee’s thinking partner. I hold the coachee capable to know what is best for them and for any decisions made. And I hold them capable of achieving their impossible future. The advantage comes in my being the coachee’s champion – no matter what.