Expectations, timeline and how we work together
A program of executive coaching usually lasts between six to 12 months, progressing through the following stages, tailored to the individual’s objectives and needs:
Stage 1: Initial meeting and self-assessment
The coaching program will kick-off with a meeting between the coach and the executive member (client). At this meeting, the coach participates in discussions to understand the client’s background, objectives and goals for coaching and gauge their level of engagement in the process.
A client’s willingness to participate is a key success criterion for any coaching program. Clients should go into coaching with an open mind and a real willingness to learn and grow.
A further meeting between the coach and client will then be held in order to clarify expectations, goals and ensure the participant is fully committed to the coaching process. An in-depth self-assessment is undertaken in which the client’s life (including personal behaviours and any limiting beliefs), career, strengths, weaknesses, and motivations are explored. It is useful if these reflections are captured in writing either by the coach or the client.
Stage 2: Coach assessment and feedback
Assessments are tools used to gather information about an individual – their values, behaviours, leadership style and overall effectiveness. The process of assessment will help to build the coach/client relationship and guide and focus the coaching program on the development needs and goals of the client.
A good coach will gather data from many sources to get the best picture of their client. They will conduct their own assessment of the client; depending on where an individual is in the development process and their past experience, this may range from being quite informal to formal – from chat to questionnaire, and they may conduct simple observations of the client at work.
Depending on whether an individual has sought coaching for personal and professional growth, independent of their employer or is being sponsored by an organisation to attend, the coach may access personnel records and conduct interviews. This enables a coach to gather 360-degree feedback about the client – invaluable in the next stage: developing the client’s action plan.
The coach will decide on the right approach needed to gain an understanding of the client and gather the necessary baseline data to proceed.
Stage 3: Planning and implementation
At this stage, a development or action plan is created, along with a schedule of coaching calls where progress is reviewed and issues or concerns raised for discussion. The plan may include objectives for future areas of work, roles of stakeholders, significant milestones related to progress and measures of success.
The program may cover any or all of the following areas:
finding clarity in a current role
developing executive presence
enhancing planning and strategic thinking
mindfulness and authentic leadership
building and leading effective teams
managing career development and progression
becoming a leader.
In this stage, the client focuses on specific changes necessary for fulfilling the individual development
plan. This may require the client to:
try new behaviours and report on them to the coach
attempt new skills
strengthen key relationships within the organisation
talk to successful executives who embody strengths the client wants to develop
meet other stakeholders for their input on the client’s development goals and plans
attend training programs as necessary.
Coach and client will be in regular communication in person or by phone to ensure focus remains on the development plan and successes and problems are discussed as they arise.
A good coach is by your side every step of the way, challenging old behaviours and inspiring your personal transformation!
Stage 4: Mid-point assessment and final review
In addition to the regular coaching calls and catch ups, the program will typically include a more formal mid-point assessment and final review.
The mid-point assessment is conducted half-way through the coaching program to track the client’s progress, assess the client/coach relationship and the coaching process. The following questions may be asked:
What is working well and what needs improving?
Is there anything we should be doing differently?
Are we on track to achieve our goals?
Answering these questions may prompt the client and coach to identify new development opportunities, better ways of supporting the client or changes to the action plan.
At a point when the client (and if relevant, other stakeholders) agree that the executive coaching process has met expectations, the coach begins a wind down process where the client does more and more of the target behaviours on their own, with less need for one-on-one coaching.
A final review can be conducted several weeks after the last coaching session to obtain feedback, acknowledge accomplishments, and present a final report to the individual or business on the outcome of the coaching process. At this point, the client and coach decide whether to continue or end the coaching program.
A return on your coaching investment
A good coach and their participant will have at least one goal in common – making the coaching program a success. From the outset, the coach and participant should consider the following factors for a successful coaching program:
Clear expectations and goals
Both the coach and the participant should clearly articulate their expectations of each other, the coaching relationship and the coaching program. This will help ensure a positive rapport between the coach and the participant and that the coaching relationship is built on trust and mutual respect. Setting clear, measurable goals for coaching will ensure the program is targeted at the individual’s specific leadership needs and that opportunities for learning and development are maximised.
Buy-in and a willingness to learn
A participant’s positive attitude towards coaching will be a key success factor in any coaching program. Individuals should go into coaching with an open mind and a real willingness to learn and grow. Participants need to be willing to examine their potential blind spots, limiting beliefs and behaviours in order to explore and try new ways of working. It is also important to make sure there is a ‘good-fit’ between the coach and participant as this is a key factor for buy-in.
Allowing adequate time
Executives, senior managers and other organisational leaders are typically extremely busy people. However, participating in an effective coaching program in which new, more productive behaviours are developed is a process that takes time. Ensuring that everyone involved understands that change takes time is another important success factor. Developing new work habits and becoming a more effective leader does not happen overnight.