Coaching Case Study By Kevin Lee
(Life Coach, SINGAPORE)
A friend introduced me to Alyssa (not her real name), who was curious how coaching works, and she needed some answers to her career direction as well.
I suggested a discovery coaching session through a call. I thought since Alyssa is new to coaching, it would be better to understand what is she really seeking for and whether coaching is suitable for that, but more importantly, to establish an alignment in perspective of what coaching is about, and what coaching is not.
The discovery session was brief, but we managed to achieve what was intended. I got to know that Alyssa is currently working as a social worker, but certain aspects of the job is draining her out. She is looking forward to a change in career, and she hopes that it will be soon. However, she has not really put in the work to find out what are the other options she could possibly switch to. Through this coaching, she hopes to find out what are some of the options available, and how can she kickstart the process of transiting into a new career. I was very careful to maintain a professional but at the same time, projecting a caring and warm approach, to create an environment of trust and intimacy in our coaching relationship. Then she would have the confidence in going ahead with me as her coach.
After the discovery session, Alyssa and I wanted to set a date and time for our next session. I figured it will be a good idea to let her take the lead in deciding whether she would want to continue with tele-coaching, or would she prefer a face to face approach, as a client-centric approach, the client’s comfort level should be prioritized. She decided that a face-to-face approach will be preferred since she takes a lot of visual cues during communication. To help facilitate the next session better, I gave Alyssa an assignment – to come back to me with 3 alternative career options that she would want to pursue.
The next session was really good, we covered a lot of ground from creating awareness on what motivates her, to her underlying belief on what the world needs and how she can fit into the picture, to planning the next steps she should take in realizing her goal.
I started off by re-exploring about her current work conditions and what were the triggers that caused her to want to make a career switch. It got interesting as we uncovered a conflict that she was having within her – that although some aspects of social work is mainly what drained her, social work is still a career that she very much want to be in, as she finds meaning in bringing relief and happiness to those who are in need. I was curious to why this conflict is happening, and wanted to uncover more ground.
I decided to make a detour from our conversation trajectory, and had Alyssa draw out her Wheel of Life. It was then that a breakthrough happened. The Wheel of Life brought clarity to Alyssa as to what should be prioritizing on to have a fulfilling life, and that she has been neglecting her top priorities due to the nature of her current job. It was like the Wheel of Life exercise has provided Alyssa with a fresh pair of lenses to refocus on what is important, and what isn’t.
With this new piece of information, Alyssa realized that it is still possible to lead a fulfilling career in the social work sector, but with a different clientele population. However, she decided that she wanted to take a detour away from social work for a short period of time, to immerse herself in a different work environment with the objective of personal growth, stretching boundaries, and learning new set of skills that will be of advantage to her when she comes back to the social work sector in the future. We then went on to talk about the 3 alternative career options that she would want to explore, besides social work. To Alyssa, making a social impact is important in a career, as that is what injects meaning and motivation to her. She was deciding between being a content producer for documentaries on social issues in Singapore, doing policy work in a government stat board, or to work for a Christian organization. When we explored the 3 options deeper, Alyssa realized that she does not have enough information on the options, and she needed to shed more light into the respective career options to take her decision making to another level.
Now that awareness has been created, we moved on to planning and goal setting. Alyssa decided that she would want to leave her current job 2 months later, but before she leaves she would want to already have in mind the direction she would want to pursue. Now that a timeline has set in place, we would want to lock down on the individual milestones and their respective deadlines. We ended off the first session with the following agreed upon tasks:
- To uncover more information on the alternative career options by approaching the various individuals within Alyssa’s network, who we have identified to be suitable in helping her in shedding light on the 3 respective options.
As a coach, I was willing to help Alyssa to be accountable in her progress. She wanted me to check in on her 2 weeks after our first session, which I agreed and I eventually did. She was making good progress, and has successfully achieved what was set out during our sessions.
Here is what I have learnt during my journey as a Coach in-training:
- I realized 2 very important skills play a big part in establishing a safe space – active listening, and being present throughout the coaching conversation. And these 2 skills continued to play a huge part in achieving huge breakthroughs throughout the entire coaching relationship.
- As a coach, we play an important role as a catalyst towards our clients achieving their goals and achievements.
- Reading between the lines is an important but tricky skill for a coach. Going beyond what is covered in assessing client’s concerns is sometimes necessary to create breakthroughs
- The language of coaching is important. Direct communication is important, but knowing how to convey the message or questions in a tactful manner will help the coaching process. E.g. “I want to explore this or that…” vs “I am curious about this part of what we have uncovered, can you tell me more about…”
- For clients new to coaching, having your client to trust the coaching process is crucial. It is hard for the client not to expect solutions from the coach in the beginning, and instead of solutions, what they get are more questions. But once they trust the process, and put in the effort to cooperate, breakthroughs will happen at a later stage.
- ALWAYS end off your session with an action plan, and an accountability agreement between you (coach) and your client.