There are as many coaches running around today as you can imagine. There are performance coaches, life coaches, business coaches, parenting coaches, relationship coaches, and on and on. Some of them are qualified to do what they do, some will be in the future, and some will be doing something else in the future. 

What are the key steps to making coaching work? Whether you decide to take a stab at it yourself or bring in someone from the outside, here is the coaching system most likely to produce long term, positive results. 

  1. Identify the opportunity to coach. It might be to accelerate orientation to a new level of responsibilities, to provide a critical new hire to the organization’s culture, or to improve performance. In any case, you are taking advantage of opportunities to educate rather than tell, train, discipline, avoid, or overlook everyday situations. 
  2. Establish rapport. Commit to helping people succeed. Without rapport, you will get resistance. 
  3. Discuss and agree on outcomes. What does each of you expect to gain from the coaching relationship? Discuss broad impact as well as immediate needs. 
  4. Explore current performance, recognize steps already taken, and agree on a goal. The goal should take the person being coached out of her/his comfort zone and be realistic at the same time. 
  5. Offer support. Encouragement gets people to keep trying. Discouragement gets people to quit. 
  6. Link the goal to higher level aims. Tie the coaching to personal and professional development. Where there is neither connection nor alignment between personal and professional goals, there is limited progress. 
  7. Test commitment to the goal. Ask “On a scale of 1 – 10, how would you rate your ability to achieve this goal?” If you get 7 or below, then ask “What can we do to make that number higher?” 
  8. Test assumptions and beliefs. Be particularly sensitive to beliefs about what is or is not possible, other people, and relationships. 
  9. Encourage self-improvement. This increases motivation and commitment to achieving goals, especially when things seem to go backwards. 
  10. Offer your experience – subtly. Offer your experience as an option to consider rather than giving a dissertation on how well a particular approach worked for you. Leave it up to the person you’re coaching to make the experience their choice rather than your mandate. 
  11. Do a “dress rehearsal”. Have the person envision how the goal/objective/change is going to occur and describe the steps necessary to make it happen. 
  12. Finally, develop a coaching culture so that everyone in the organization gets the benefit of a living in ever-increasing comfort zones. 

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