Whether you coach as part of your role in an organisation, or are an independent coach, how do you ensure that your coaching abilities are as good as they can be?
Do you have people or systems (or both) that help you review your ongoing development?
As a guide and starting point, I’ve listed below 8 ways to keep your coaching skills sharp – covering external CPD, internal reflection and coachee feedback.
Which do you already do, and what would you add to this list?
1. Practise the skills of coaching outside formal coaching sessions
This is particularly relevant if you don’t get to coach very often. You can still keep your coaching skills sharp by, for example:
2. Attend coaching supervision
With a growing appreciation for the power and benefit supervision has on our coaching practice (and hence our coachees!) supervision is becoming more popular and more in demand. Supervision can be 1-1 or group supervision. It can be over the phone or in person.
Supervision often involves a teaching or mentoring element on the part of the coach supervisor, always involves reflection on the part of the coach being supervised, and has a holistic focus on a coach’s development. I’ve always learned something new about myself, the coaching profession and how I run my coaching business when I’ve attended coaching supervision. It’s definitely a must for my ongoing development as a coach.
3. Carry out coaching self-reviews regularly
This involves taking an open and honest look at your own practice, and can include reviews of:
4. Ask your coachees for feedback
How often do you do this? What format does it take? How do you use it?!
I have found questions, such as those below, useful to gain a coachee’s feedback:
5. Keep a journal – record your reflections
I’ve been using journals more and more recently. I have different journals for different reflections: one for reflecting on my training, one for coaching, one for supervision, a gratitude journal, and one to record things I learn from reading coaching and other books.
One of the advantages of journalling is that you need to organise your thoughts in order to put pen to paper. This helps you identify the most important and relevant parts about what you want to say, as well as the most relevant next steps … the ‘So what?’ bit. They can also be useful to do a ‘dump’ of unhelpful emotions/feelings/thoughts, things that are tying you up in knots.
6. Join a coaching CPD / support group
It can be a lonely job if you’re the only one in your organisation delivering coaching, or you’re running your own coaching business. It’s a good idea to find (or create!) a coaching support group in your area to keep your motivation levels up, keep your skills sharp, and learn from other like-minded people.
Try a Google search for your nearest one, or if you’re in the Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire or Yorkshire areas, you’d be very welcome to come along and visit us at The 3 Shires Coaching Group. (Click here to find out more.) We’ve found that our best support and development comes from:
7. Attend CPD days (further training / conferences / webinars etc.)
This is different to #6, in that these are stand alone events.
8. Gather testimonials
This may sound self-serving, but it’s useful feedback on what’s working. You can then use this as part of your overall feedback picture. Often we focus on what we ‘need to do better’, and forget what we do well. By gathering testimonials, you will be making productive in-roads towards gaining positive external feedback.
Testimonials Tip …
Despite coachees painting glowing pictures of how coaching has helped them (particularly at the end of a session), and their willingness to write a testimonial for you, it may not materialise. They may have the best intentions to do this for you, but once the session’s finished and they go about their daily routine, the latter takes over and/or they may forget. Make it easy for them by giving them a starting point. For example, at the end of your programme of sessions with them, ask the following questions:
So what do you do to keep your coaching skills sharp? And which ideas from the above list will you use?
Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments box. Click on the comments link under the blog title :)
One of the core skills of a coach is feeding back things that they are noticing (hearing, seeing and feeling). This might include:
Coaches feedback things they notice from the mindset that it will:
Thus their intentions for offering feedback are purely positive and supportive. It’s also good practice to ask your permission before offering feedback to you …
“I’ve just noticed something in our conversation that I’d like to feed back to you if that’s OK?”
"Do you mind if I feed something back to you that I’m hearing?”
In order to maximise your time together, and create a valuable and productive coach-coachee relationship, it’s useful to embrace feed back when it’s offered. As with ‘Challenge‘ in coaching, feedback from your coach:
There are many benefits to being offered this kind of feedback. Nevertheless, the temptation as a coachee can be to initially feel like ‘feedback’ is some kind of criticism when it’s being offered … until, that is, you’ve had good quality coaching and you know this part of the coach-coachee relationship is key to your development.
How to respond when you’re offered feedback from your coach
When offered feedback, take it. It’s sign-posting something to you. You don’t have to accept it. You don’t have to act on it. As with other information that is put out there in the coaching arena (via your dialogue), you choose whether it’s relevant in that moment, and you decide whether to act on it, think about it further, or offer your thoughts / comments.
To summarise, my advice here is to welcome feedback offered by your coach; in fact embrace it! See it as supportive with a positive intent from your coach. See it as further / new information that you can add to the mix – helping you make more informed decisions moving forward.
What kind of feedback have you been usefully offered by your coach to date?
What made it useful feedback?
Let me know in the comments box.
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