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My previous post Want to be a Leader? Soon? Easy Tools to Pick the Right Coach for You answered the question “How do I choose a coach?” Now that you know what to ask to sort through the various coaches, it’s important to eliminate the unknown. Now you ask, what will happen when I work with a coach? How long will the coaching process take?

Tailored or Set Program?

Some coaches have a set program that is a one-size-fits-all. They usually address a particular skill or solution such as career coaching, entrepreneur marketing, business growth, client service skills, etc. Set programs set a specific direction for participants.

Other coaches offer a tailored experience. A tailored experience puts the coachee in the driver’s seat to set the speed, topics, objectives and direction they want to pursue. Set programs may be the perfect fit, or tailored experiences may better suit you. No matter the approach, the coaching experience must fit you and your needs. The coaching framework is straight-forward and includes the following.

Coaching Framework

Professional Agreement. As a professional service provider, the coach should provide an agreement that spells out the roles, length of the engagement, how you will communicate, session frequency and timing, expectations, the fees and ways to terminate the relationship. Ask for a sample from your prospective coach. This agreement should be signed by you and the coach before they bill you and experience a paid session. Expect the document to be short and in layman’s terms. It’s not that complicated.

Explore and visualize your goals. This goal exploration may be an in-person Q&A or in writing. Goal exploration must occur in the initial sessions. Goals are the foundation of change.

My clients choose if they want to focus on a specific issue or if they want a more holistic approach. My holistic approach covers six life facets. Whether broad or narrow in scope, I tailor questions that help them visualize the results they want, obstacles, skills required plus necessary resources, ways to identify progress, and how to manage accountability.

Determine Your Baseline. To change, you need to know where you are now. The baseline could have specific metrics, impressions, and actions. Coaches use a variety of tools and techniques to establish your baseline. Executive coaching may include various tests, observations, and 360-degree evaluations to identify your starting point. Your goals help determine the methods the coach will use to establish your baseline.

Create a Plan. Every coaching partnership has a written plan of action. The plan integrates your goals, initial baseline, and steps to change. Each plan must include ways you will measure progress. The coach helps you explore solutions to problems, see more possibilities and apply resources. Each plan includes who does what, by when.

You own your plan. The coach helps you keep it a living document and forward focused. I help my clients maintain their dynamic plan by providing updated notes after each session.

Work the Plan. Sessions usually start with the coach asking about your insights and progress since the last session. Each session focuses on you, your insights, turning your insights into action and determining your next steps. I look for milestone celebrations as clients work towards their goals. Sounds easy but it’s work!

How Long Do I Need a Coach?

The length of a coaching engagement depends on you and your goals. I initially suggest having two sessions a month. Hard working clients usually see the most rapid change in the first 90 days. Within six months, you likely achieved your critical goals.

I encourage coachees to limit their initial service agreement to six months or less. After the six months, determine if you would like to continue the engagement. It usually requires less frequency if you choose to extend beyond six months.

Now that you have the tools to choose a coach and know what to expect in the coaching process, you are ready to find the strategic partner that will help you achieve your goals.

What have been your concerns and experiences searching for the right coach for you?  Feel free to comment or contact me at karen@kmleadership.com

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