Abintus Coaching Resources

The phrase ‘becoming a reflective practitioner’ is associated with coaching. Coaching enables learning for both coach and coachee. The more the coach thinks and reflects on their coaching ‘performance’ the better at it they become. Becoming a reflective coach is not a natural process. So how to make part of how you operate as a coach?

Reflecting in context

Reflection is a part of many coaching qualifications and accreditations. It is seen as a key competence. It’s a method to help process, challenge assumptions and develop meaning from experiences. Ultimately, reflection enables awareness to increase and learning to occur.

Good reflection develops through regular practice to develop habits. Some coaches happen to unconsciously reflect. However, being more deliberate in reflection provides p

owerful learning. There are many models supporting reflective practice. One of which is Kolb’s learning cycle:

Concrete experience– experiencing something possibly new in a coaching session.

Reflective observation– thinking about and reflecting on what happened. Attempting to understand what happened and why.

Abstract conceptualization– making sense of what happened. Making physical, emotional, mental and knowledge links. Using people and own knowledge to modify ideas to employ new approaches

Active experimentation– considering how to put into practice what has been learnt about what happened. Learning from observations and conceptualization turning into active experimentation

For the coach they can reflect in many ways – inward, outward, backward and forward.

Within each of these the coach can reflect on many areas including:

  • What they did
  • How they behaved
  • What they said
  • How applied the coaching skills
  • What they thought, what they felt
  • The impact they had on their coachees
  • What theses reflections mean for them in their coaching
  • What they may then need to develop or change moving forward in their practice.

Before the coaching session

Reflecting happens before coaching takes place as part of the session planning activity:

  • What am I looking forward to about coaching this person? How does this help me?
  • What am I concerned about as I prepare to coach this person? This tells me what? Is there something I need to be better prepared for?
  • How am I feeling about this coaching session?
  • What have I learnt so far in this coaching that I need to be mindful of?
  • How have I ensured an appropriate environment for me and my learner?
  • What do I already know about the learner’s expectations? Do I need to do anything to clarify expectations?
  • How is the rapport currently between my learner and me? Do I need to do anything in advance to build rapport?
  • What do I already know about my learner’s state of mind and feelings about the coaching? Is there anything which might hinder our coaching conversation? What can I do to remove any hindrance?

During the coaching session

The coach needs to decide whether they want to take notes or not. Notes ensure a more accurate picture is captured. It allows them to note when things happened to then build links and note themes. In the session being aware of how the coach can:

  • Be conscious of how they are feeling and what they are thinking about.
  • Be aware of questions they asking and how they are received.
  • Pick up on body language from the coachee.
  • Note any key experiences.
  • Consider how the approaches they used with the coachee worked.
  • Conscious of the words they used. And, how these might influence the coachee, or where transference might be occurring in the relationship.
  • Be conscious of where they have to work harder with the coach and possible reasons why.

After the coaching session

Shortly after the coaching, the coach begins to reflect and conceptualise about what they experienced.

  • How does the coach feel immediately after the session? What can they learn from those feelings?
  • Where did things go well? How do they know?
  • What were the conditions of their good performance? What can I learn for the future?
  • Next time what do they need to do differently? Why? How they do they make those changes?
  • How did session affect their coachee? What make them think that? What are they going to do differently? If nothing has changed, is that appropriate?
  • Are they experiencing any feelings that might hinder their future development as a coach? (e.g. failure, boredom, complacency, anger?). What are they going to do about those feelings and move on?

A coach can use a pre-prepared template to record their reflections on. These encourage the coach to break down their thinking into defined areas. Examples of templates can be found as another Abintus resource.

Reflection is a key enabler for coaches to become more confident, effective and mature in their coaching practice, providing a high-quality service to their coachees.

If you have found this resource useful, contact Abintus to see how we can support you or your organisation in its coaching and leadership activities.