Verbatim data is the key to helping the client make sustainable change in his or her behavior. An effective coach stays close to the client over time (3, 6, 12 months depending on a number of factors). Coaching should not be a sporadic series of ‘events’ more a flexible and ongoing trusted and close collaboration between the client and the coach. Typically it takes a lot of accumulated life experience and wisdom before someone can be a really effective coach. In my experience the best coaches tend to be irreverent mavericks. ‘Keep it real’ as they say! Clients trust and respect someone who is authentic and not afraid to ‘say it the way it is’.
There are several factors that make for effective coaching. The first is the use of high quality data. At the outset of any coaching assignment I systematically gather verbatim data through one to one interviews with the key people in the clients’ world. I also use assessment instruments (such as the MBTI Step 2) and 360 surveys, I find this verbatim data to be the most powerful tool in motivating clients to make sustainable change. The words bring the voices of those key people into the room and they impact the client viscerally and emotionally as well as on an intellectual and rational level. This kind of feedback gets through to clients when most other types of feedback have failed.
The second factor is trust. After the interview phase I sit down with the client for four to eight hours to help him or her explore this data in depth. From this shared experience comes a foundation of trust between us that allows me to work effectively with the client over time. At this feedback session, and subsequently, we work together on a development plan that includes goals, action steps, timelines and metrics.
A third factor is my relationship with the client’s boss. Steps are taken to ensure that I partner effectively with him or her to provide additional support to the client when I’m not there and, of course, finally out of the picture.
The fourth factor is sustainability. I meet with the client regularly for every month of the program. Frequency, duration and medium varies according to needs and circumstances. (Typically the coaching lasts for six months, although this time frame may vary according to a number of variables). Ongoing follow up coaching is vital in creating sustained change. Initial insights gained from the feedback must be capitalized upon through practice. At the end of the coaching assignment I go back to the original interviewees to get their input on my client’s progress against the goals he or she set.
A final debrief with the client and his or her boss completes the process.