Abintus Coaching Resources

I am not sure where the quote comes from, but I once read that ‘relationships are the containers for growth’. This is especially true for coaching. Coaching is not just about achieving an outcome for the client. It is also about developing a meaningful client relationship which enables great coaching conversations to occur. This relationship though requires investment from the outset.

Scene setting

When developing coaches are out practicing their newly found coaching skills, there is so much in their heads to consider – preparing for and planning their sessions, following the coaching model, questioning techniques, contracting, getting actions from them are all uppermost in their thinking.

Often what unintentionally gets lost in all of this, is developing and nurturing the client relationship. Creating this relationship is critical to the dynamics of the conversation, the trust created, the openness of the client and ultimately the value of and ultimately the outcomes achieved.

If the coach only has up to six 90-minute conversations, achieving a meaningful client relationship quickly is paramount. Coaching relationships just don’t happen, they require investment by the coach (and client).

The safer the coaching environment the deeper the relationship will become and the more the client will be emotional engaged in the sessions.

Client relationships start before the coaching

This relationship development begins before the sessions start.

The initial call or face-to-face conversation provides opportunity for the coach to question, explore and understand the client better. Picking up on verbal and non-verbal clues, asking direct questions and listening to what is said and not said. The types of words and phrases used and how they respond to your approach all gives vital information. Observing who they are an how they come across.

The old adage ‘people like people who are like them’ rings true here. The sooner the coach can develop rapport and tap into their client’s traits, questioning and responding in ways the client can relate to the quicker the relationship will develop.

Coaches in organisations also have the added opportunity of perhaps knowing or being aware of their client beforehand. All this helps to build a picture of them.

Using your contracting

I note when supervising coaches that they put a lot of effort into the contracting. preparing a checklist to cover, scene setting and preparing their mindset.

Whilst the contracting covers elements that need to be discussed as part of the coaching. It also presents opportunity to explore other areas to, including relationship development.

Here the coach can use this time to deliberately develop the relationship by:

  • Understanding client values and beliefs.
  • Exploring their background and development experiences.
  • Determining and managing client expectations of the coaching.
  • Discussing what communication approaches work for them, how they like to learn, converse, approach situations, reflect and think.
  • Understand their learning styles and learning preferences.
  • Asking how they want the two of you to work together.
  • Drawing out from them examples of good and bad relationship approaches they have experienced.
  • Exploring what trust looks like to them, and what they need to have to in relationships for trust to develop
  • Using psychometrics to understand client personality type and behaviours. Ones they have undertaken before, or ones which you as a coach or organisation might use.

This is also about you as coach sharing about your styles and preferences, and how you will manage the relationship, explaining that there will be reasons and intent behind questions. I have learnt that considered disclosure by the coach on their own experiences can be a valuable tool in creating relationship trust and equality.

Discussing when and how feedback will be provided and sought with the client, will also remove an often contentious area for the client.

Relationships during coaching conversations

Once in the coach development of the relationship is ongoing. Again however, developing coaches often get too engrossed in the coaching process. They need to provide continued focus to the client relationship. Opportunities abound to enable, encourage and manage the client relationship:

  • Frequently take time to understand the client’s point of view, in doing so this also develops the client’s own self-awareness – be curious.
  • Make support a key part of your on going relationship, not just in the 90 minute sessions.
  • Continually show that you are listening, show the client that they and what they are saying is important to you. Tap into your listening techniques – reflecting, summarising etc.
  • Be authentic and genuine in all aspects of your communication. You might be fulfilling a coaching role, but this doesn’t stop you from being genuine.
  • Observe your client’s body language. Note how they respond to yours to build a picture of how tuned in to each other you both are.
  • Provide affirmation on what you are hearing and seeing in the client. Developing their confidence will demonstrate the power of what the relationship can achieve.

Additionally, don’t forget to create enjoyment and fun in the sessions. It’s ok to have a laugh together, which in turn creates further kinship.

The coaching relationship is a silent powerhouse, supporting conversations and contributing to effective outcomes. These relationships don’t just happen. They need investment all along the client’s coaching journey, from right before the coaching to the achievement of their goals. The coach is integral to initiating the relationship and nurturing. Even with all the elements of coaching that are new to the coach, relationship development has to remain central.

If you want further information about coach development and supervision in your organisation, contact Abintus today.