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Coaching practice

Effective coaching centres around the coaching relationship which recognizes and respects the other person as an equal with unlimited potential. The coach needs to develop self-awareness and be able to reflect this belief about themselves as well as the client. The relationship is developed through establishing shared understanding and agreement regarding the relationship, its boundaries and the expectations each person will have of it. It is supported by observation and awareness, mirroring and matching the other person’s preferences. It depends on honesty, openness and a willingness to challenge and provide constructive feedback.


Effective coaching also requires planning, to ensure that the conversation is focused and that the client is supported in moving forward. There are a number of phases in coaching. These are not always sequential but are interleaved through a session. Building rapport centres on the relationship, trust and understanding between coach and client. The contracting phase involves establishing the boundaries and expectations for the relationship as well as the goals for the particular session: what the client wants to achieve. Establishing outcomes includes goal setting both in terms of the client and any third parties that may be stakeholders in the process (for example, an employer). Eliciting information focuses on encouraging the client to think through and examine the information that is relevant to the issue in hand. This is not about providing information to the coach, but about working through the client’s thinking, their current reality and the options available. The creating action phase focuses on moving the client forward to a specific course of action, underpinned by securing commitment to these actions. Reviewing is also an important phase to clarify shared understanding and focus.


These phases can be incorporated into a coaching session using a structured model, which helps to maintain focus and leads to positive action. A useful model is the GROW model, in which the session follows four key stages. The first focuses on the Goals of the client, and incorporates contracting and establishing outcomes. Goals are explored and refined to ensure that they are specific, measurable, realistic, and owned by the client. The second stage is Reality, exploring where the client is now compared to where they want to be. This involves eliciting information and reviewing.  The third stage, Options, considers the possibilities available to the client to move towards achieving the goals. Again this process particularly involves eliciting information and reviewing. The final stage in the GROW model is the Way forward, which identifies the specific actions the client can take to move towards achieving the goal, including the client’s level of commitment to these actions. This stage incorporates the creating action and securing commitment phases. Rapport building underpins the whole process.  


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