You’ve decided – you’ll use that executive coach your company offered. But how do you make sure your time and effort pays off? What can you do to ensure the experience helps you?
1. Be Active
For coaching it’s true – you’ll only get out what you put in. For true results you’ll need to actively participate and be open about the challenges that hold you back. A coach can help you become even more effective if you recognize the value of continual learning, and that even the smallest of changes can amplify your impact.
2. Address Confidentiality
At the onset, clarify what information will or won’t be shared with your company. Some discussions with your coach should be completely confidential. Other times, involving your manager in the process may be the fastest way to make progress. Set the parameters at the beginning.
3. Take Feedback
Your coach is not your cheerleader. At times you’ll need to confront uncomfortable self awareness or feedback in order to learn. But you are not accountable to them so you needn’t defend yourself. Take feedback openly, clarify your understanding and ask for insights, then concentrate on what you can do about it.
4. Be Focused
Don’t set too many goals. Keep your coaching objectives concise and you’ll likely see results more quickly, which will build your impact as well as your motivation.
You will always need to prepare for a meeting with your coach. It may be as simple as being clear in your own mind what you want to get out of the meeting: what will success look like? At other times you may have work to complete between meetings. If you are asked to submit something in advance of your meeting, ensure the coach has reasonable time to review it as part of their own preparation so you get the most out of the meeting.
6. Apply The Tools
Frameworks and tools are often suggested to help you establish a structured approach to challenges. The more you use the tools the more effective you will become and the more likely they will be second nature to you.
7. Make Time
Coaching takes time: for the coaching sessions, to prepare for them, and to apply your learning. While an urgent priority may require a session be rescheduled, if you find this happens more than once you need to re-evaluate your commitment to coaching.
8. Respect Your Coach’s Time
Your coach is a professional, and their sole focus is to help you achieve your coaching goals. It reflects poorly on them if you don’t succeed, even if it was your time management issues that caused this. Try not to cancel meetings at short notice. Good coaches and their clients are busy and unlikely to be able to reschedule others quickly.
9. Use Your Coach
Do you have a specific situation to think through, or are you preparing for a key meeting? Drop your coach a quick email for quick assistance; they’ll do their best to make themselves available. Ten minutes spent solidifying your approach can give you the confidence you’re on the right track.
Finally, have fun! Learning about yourself and increasing your effectiveness can be immensely satisfying. And who knows; your coach may just become a key person in your professional network.