Coaching Approach

My approach to coaching can be looked at in stages or steps:

  1. Clarify the overall objectives and metrics of the coaching program. Align expectations.
  2. Introduce the coaching process with the Client and, if applicable learn about the Client’s past experiences with coaching.
  3. Identify the Client’s personal and career vision, values, priorities and hopes for the coaching.
  4. Co-create with the Client a language and tools that we can use to push beyond current capabilities and limitations.
  5. Review 360 or other feedback with the Client and identify clear and specific goals and metrics. Two key focus areas are competencies for top performance in current role and competencies for promotion to next role.
  6. Map out an initial plan to get from point A (the client’s starting point) to point B (coaching goals and objectives). Create a draft Leadership Development Plan.
  7. Arrange a meeting with me, the Client and the Client’s manager(s) to present high-level discoveries from the 360 and draft of coaching plan and to get input from the manager(s). I work closely with the client to prepare for this meeting. *
  8. Facilitate the Manager-Client-Coach meeting and work with the Client to revise the Leadership Development Plan, if needed.
  9. Conduct bi-weekly telephone and/or in-person coaching sessions with the Client. The Client sets the agenda for each coaching session based on coaching goals, Client needs, and situations that have occurred since the previous session.
  10. Perform periodic informal process assessments with the Client — What’s working? What’s not working? How can we make the coaching even more powerful? Are we meeting the coaching goals?
  11. Finalize the coaching with formal written feedback reports – one which I prepare and provide to the Client sharing my assessment of the Client’s progress and suggestions for future development, and one I ask the Client to complete to self-assess progress and provide feedback to me about the coaching experience. The Client has the option to share all or part of the feedback with the organization, based on Client’s comfort level and previously agreed upon expectations between the Client, Coach and organization.
  12. Schedule 3-month and 6-month follow-up coaching sessions to assess the Client’s progress in meeting his or her developmental goals and provide suggestions for maximizing the Client’s efforts.

* In some situations, meeting with the Client and Client’s manager may not be advised or practical. This is decided with the Client and hiring contact person at the start of the engagement.

Contact me for a more detailed description of my approach to coaching.

Dr. Kaplan’s Coaching Style

My coaching style is highly collaborative and outcomes-based. I work closely with the organization and Client to define and map out the coaching objectives and path to achieve them. Examples of negotiable elements include:

  • Being more or less directive
  • Pulling from my own experiences
  • Creating various “homework” assignments
  • Offering “intuitive hits”
  • Using visioning tools or other creative techniques
  • Delving into or avoiding Client personal concerns

In any given coaching conversation, I use a combination of questioning, maintaining curiosity, and balancing “not knowing” (calling on the Client to get clear) with offering suggestions. I consider the Client the expert and, thus avoid telling the Client what to do. However, I may share different perspectives and offer ideas as appropriate. I will also refer books, articles, and other resources if and when appropriate.

Whereas each Client is different, so is the Client’s need based on the particular issue we’re discussing. To this end, I will adjust my approach in any given call to fit the need. Consider the following table as a guide:

Coaching Approach Based on Client Understanding of a Specific Issue

Level of understanding Approach Examples
Client doesn’t know at all Be direct with Client Offer a suggestion, role play, challenge, share a resource
Client knows a little Be somewhat direct with Client Ask clarifying questions, point out inconsistencies, draw parallels
Client knows but wants input Be creative with Client Do a visioning exercise, collaboratively brainstorm, discover new perspectives
Client knows but forgets Be supportive with Client Acknowledge, remind Client of past successes, design structures

I operate from the assumption that it is up to both Coach and Client to create a trusting container that allows for growth of the client. The Coach helps the Client develop trust by being consistent, showing up on time, holding himself and the Client accountable, and helping the Client make new discoveries about himself to the Coach. The Client helps to build trust by being honest with the Coach, asking for what the Client needs, giving the Coach feedback, and showing up for each coaching session, physically and mentally.

Finally, I use a theory of under-performance that I developed a number of years ago to help clients break through blocks that inevitably surface when the Client is attempting to achieve sustained change. Download a free chapter of the E-book, Habit Change: Barriers and Solutions for more information on this theory.

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