Making the most of your coach - some tips for the coachee

It’s International Coaching Week and a lot is being written about coaching. My contribution is to lay out some pointers for someone who is thinking about having a coach, i.e. a coachee. After all, it’s an important development decision to have a coach, so it is worth thinking about.

  1. The right match. Having the right coach/coachee match is highly important. Often internal coaching decisions lead to hiring external providers, with lots of vetting about the qualification and competency of the coach. I’d say it’s very important that the match is also right and that selecting the right coach includes the right match for the coachee as much as the hirer. Coaching is done with someone, not to them after all.

  2. Be clear about confidentiality if you are having an internal coach. There is a ‘third party’ in the shape of the line manager. The coaching relationship is 100% confidential so as a coachee you should be confident you can share anything with your coach. It is up to you to decide what you share with your line manager.

  3. Understand what the coach is there to do. That means not giving you answers, solving your problems for you and not being there forever as a crutch.

  4. Have goals that are challenging to bring to the conversation and be prepared to deep dive. A good coach will enable you to lead where you need to go even if it is tough and difficult, and he/she will provide challenge and support. True challenge arrives when both coach and coachee work together and co-create ideas and solutions.

  5. Coaching should leave you better able to ‘learn how to learn’ for yourself, be more self reliant both now and in the future. Consider what you need to build with the coach so when they go, you have the resilience and tools to do this going forwards. What is it for you?

  6. Coaching is a stretch and will be hard work , and so it should be for you, as you will be doing all the thinking, learning and changing. That involves looking to yourself and what works for you, not comparing to others. Everyone is different, even if by degrees. A good coach will keep you focused on this.

  7. Keep in mind that the coaching relationship will evolve over time and that it is therefore about helping you change in the longer term. It’s not bringing quick fixes to a session or a one-off issue. So that’s good news because it’s your chance to remove ill-serving patterns of behaviour and long standing challenges.

  8. There is no right or wrong answer or solution to what you bring to coaching meetings. If you feel under pressure from your line manager about something they want you to improve on, bring that anxiety into the coaching conversation, not just a task and goal, and remember that a good coach will help you see the range of solutions, ideas and choices available to you, the pros and cons, rather than a specific ‘answer’.

  9. Be open and honest with your coach form the start. Let them in.

  10. Let go when it is time. Don’t hang on to your coach forever.

If you’d like to learn more about coaching take a look at my website or research the national bodies such as the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC).