Coaching Case Study By Lauren Ong
(Career Coach, SINGAPORE)
During the last in-class session of my Certified Coach Skills (Career Coaching) Program, we were split into groups for a real-time coaching session with our classmates and I paired up with Jack (fictitious name).
The session started off as I explained to him what coaching was and was not. As classroom time was limited, I did not have the chance to go through my coaching agreement with him, but as we were both in the coaching course, we were soon comfortable to proceed with the session.
Jack wanted to be coached on creating his own Unique Selling Point (USP), and intended to include this USP into his resume and LinkedIn. However, Jack felt for the longest time that he had no clear direction or idea in how to formulate his USP and felt stuck with no progress.
Jack’s agenda for the session was to formulate his USP. I asked him what was an ideal USP in his perspective and what was his definition of it. Jack replied saying that it should be a sentence that should not be too long, but yet able to describe him in a snap. With that in mind, I asked Jack to think about his ideal USP length and how many words he wanted in it. I waited for Jack to respond, and he decided that his USP should not be more than 30 words.
I asked Jack a series of questions on his strengths, hobbies, life purpose, adjectives to describe himself, and what content would be in his USP. Throughout the conversation, I paused on many occasions after posing my question so that I give Jack enough time and space to think of his answers.
Jack’s answers diverged into a central theme of him being “a people person who enjoys cross cultural communication and passionate about personal development”. The first USP attempt had a total of 13 words.
In the second part of the coaching session, using the tentative USP created, I then asked Jack about how he felt reading the USP if he was a potential employer. This allowed Jack to see that the USP could market his job expertise to potential employers.
Hence, we worked on finding out what Jack was good at in his field of work and how he could include the positive deliverables into the USP. By including these aspects, we managed to have Jack rephrase his USP and it concluded with him being “a people person who enjoys cross cultural communication and possess strong experience in regional HR operations, and passionate about human capital development through training and coaching” (27 words!!).
As it was my first encounter of being a coach, I found myself referring to the list of questions that I had prepared beforehand. However, it was not only paralyzing, but also detrimental to how to the coaching session was turning out. The questions that I had asked, according to my list, was not in sync with the conversation between Jack and I. With that, it caused Jack some confusion that was expressed through his facial expressions, as though telling me that he does not understand why the question need to be asked, and could not see how it linked with his topic.
Seeing that, I stopped following my list and really put in my active listening skills to dig further into what Jack was saying. Luckily, I made the switch within 10 minutes into the conversation! Throwing the list of questions aside was one of the best decisions because it helped the conversation to flow better, and from that, I’ve learnt that the best questions need not be practiced and that the correct powerful questions to ask will come along in the conversation.
I was glad that Jack was willing to share details of his employment or troubles that he has had when trying to formulate his own USP – which often led to him procrastination and putting off his ideas. I was very pleased to also see the look on Jack’s face when he had some ideas strung up for his USP.
There were many times during the conversation where I felt a compelling need to say something. I kept repeating to myself that the time was for the client to pause and think, and that the silence will be a good space for the client to formulate and organize thoughts better.
I certainly did not expect that I could coach Jack to create his USP within a session, as I’ve always thought that USP needed a long time and clear direction to create. Through the session, I’ve learnt that the agenda really belongs to the client, and that the coach’s job is to help move the client along to where they want to be.