Coaching Case Study By Doina Mihaela Binig
(Transformational Coach, ROMANIA)
1. Who are the main players in this case study
The main player in this coach study is a client called Alex. Alex is a young manager in a top tech company with a short but accelerated career and a lot of potential.
2. What is the core problem or challenge you applied your coaching skills to?
Alex is a very gifted young man; he is warm and loyal and he wants to feel trusted and valued. He puts a lot of pressure on him, he wants to set the tone, to be the best at work, to be the best at home, he enjoys supporting his loved ones and his friends, he wants to see everybody happy. Meanwhile he is very hard on himself, he wants to learn new things, to develop himself in many areas, form foreign languages to nutrition and sports and technical skills necessary at work. This creates stress.
He came to work with me because he wanted support in prioritising his activities and to get rid of that feeling that at the end of the day he walks through many things but nothing really that matters.
In addition, he was upset about what he called his lack of discipline in his daily activities, the strange need to procrastinate…the lack of focus…He tried even the Pomodoro algorithm that requires to stay concentrate on one activity during 25 minutes and then to have a 5 minutes break, without success. He confesses it is more easy to refuse someone who wants to interrupt him during the 25 minutes continuous activity but he can’t control himself; he breaks the rule himself for easier and more enjoyable tasks like reading the mail or watching TV for the news.. In the end, he gets the task done but later and with a great taste of dissatisfaction…
He wants to do so many things and although he succeeded to accomplish many of them, with a huge effort and sleeping only few hours a night, in the end he feels unhappy and in distress..
The life of Alex is a list full of “To do”. During the first sessions of coaching, I have never heard other verb than ‘To do”. It was not about coaching, how to prioritize the “to do” but coaching the client: who is he, what are his objectives in life, what is important for him…
2. What specific coaching skills or approach did you use in this case?
Powerful listening and Creating trust
We built very quickly a trustful relationship as coach and client and Alex was very open in discussing what he saw as major obstacles in his personal development. I was noticing the vocabulary he used but also the tension in his voice, the body language and I played the role of a sounding board. He admitted he was at ease to discuss these issues with me and that he did not feel the confidence to do that with other people.
This was a major aspect of my coaching.
Alex was completely blocked in his overcrowded “to do” lists in the office but also at home, giving up on sleep or relaxing time. Even the favourite activities with his family were planed against a very tight schedule and “seen” as other “to do’s”.
During the first coaching session, he was expecting to be told “to do” something in order to fulfil all the “to do’s” he already had on the list. Instead, when I felt he is prepared, I started to ask questions to give him the possibility to think about himself, to make the shift to his inner world, what he wants, what are his dreams,…
- What is important for you?
- What are your objectives in life?
- When do you feel that your existence has meaning?
- When do feel happy and full of power?
- What is and how it feels to love yourself?
- What is and how it feels to be confident, to have a sense of self-esteem?
Alex was very surprised and told me the next session that for him this was a revelation, an “aha” moment and that he is ready to work more to get to know himself better.
I chose to emphasize the above skills used as being major contributors to successful coaching sessions (there were 4 sessions up to now) but I also used the Power of Visualization, Accountability and the sessions will continue, because Alex already expressed his intention in this direction.
3. Explain your process in detail
Each session (except the first) started by measuring what he realized since our last session.
- How do you feel about your progress?
- Do you feel that you are going back to your old habits and ways of thinking occasionally
- What do you do to get back on track?
- How committed are you to the new habit?
Are of real help in measuring the progress toward the desired outcome.. It is very important at this stage to use Acknowledgement for the steps forward taken by the client.
Than we moved to the desired outcome for the current coaching session, using questions like:
- What would you like to reach until the end of the session?
- How can the coaching session best support you today?
- How will you know that you reached your goal?
- How can you measure success?
When Alex was describing the current situation, he was doing most of the talking. I was listening, “dancing with him in the moment”, paraphrasing from time to time in order to act as a sounding board. The questions asked permitted a better understanding of the real issue behind the story.
The next stages of the coaching process were dedicated to exploration of new options, possibilities to reach the goal, changing perspectives, identification of possible structures to be put in place for supporting the path and to test the will of the client, the commitment to implement the goal..
I used Powerful questions like:
- What would you like to do differently, compared to before so that you can achieve your goal?
- What new possibilities do you see now, that were not there before, and that will empower you to achieve your target?
- What kind of support will you need that will help you stay on track?
- What will your first step be? When?
- What can you do today/ the next week/ until our next session?
- What resources do you have and what else do you need?
Before ending the session, we checked if he was OK with the session outcome. Also, I asked him about the key learning points..
4. What were the results of your process? Was your coaching/program effective? Why? Why not?
Although we will continue the sessions, so far the results are relevant. Alex mentioned that he had an “aha” moment that make him already started to change his old habits and implementing new ones that better support his goals.
The “aha” moment is not enough in the absence of will and action to implement and enhance new habits but discipline is one of the most important life values for Alex and he is confident in his way forward.
5. If you could approach this problem again, what would you do differently?
Things went very well, and Alex was very satisfied with the coaching process and outcome.
From my perspective, for sure I will do two things differently:
- I would give some more feedback
- I would try to stay within the timeline I planned for the session; For two out of the four sessions I was unable to end the session according to what I planned and this made my daily schedule quite difficult to respect.
6. What are the top 3 things you learnt from this experience?
- It’s enough only one moment you are not fully connected with the client, you lose the space and the client notices it.
- Listening could be more important than talking, asking questions more powerful that giving solutions; this was a very important lesson for me, being in a high managerial positions for many years.
- Coaching is very powerful. You can see your clients taking real benefits out of it. This gives you as a coach a lot of positive energy and good vibes; in the end is a win-win.