Coaching Case Study By Magalie van Amerongen
(Expat and Life Coach, BRUNIE)
In the summer of 2016, I got the opportunity to coach a young man, let’s call him Tom.
Tom is 33 and just got promoted to a new position. He is very proud, but feels trapped in a cage. He feels trapped because of his work. Tom is feeling so much pressure from his new line manager who is a woman, that he is working long hours. This creates stress with his partner, as he is never home, and does not have a clear view of what is expected of him at work. He does all he can. Tom tends to be a pleaser, so will do everything everyone asks him.
In this case study, I will describe how Tom got more control over his life, felt less stress and became happier thanks to coaching. However, it turned out that the issue was not about his job, but instead it was himself. At the end of the day, it was not about coaching the issue, but coaching the client.
What specific coaching skills did you use in this case:
The most important skills I used with Tom were:
- Confidence and The Power of Visualization
Let me elaborate on the skills mentioned above.
Positivity is one of my core strengths with which I try to infect my clients.
The first step I took with Tom was to make him fill out a questionnaire. The questions were not only about his expectation of coaching, his goals, what is holding him back, but also about his dreams, important people in his life, his passions, proudest moments and “what if” the negative voice in our heads did not exist “what then”.
This often helps create the first shift in attitude. With these questions, the client is given the possibility to think about himself in a positive way. In our busy life we do not take the time to think about our dreams, what we want, who we look up to and why. We like talking about positive things but don’t do it enough, we just need that little push.
Before every session, Tom had to think of 3 positive things that happened during the week and 3 proud moments he had experienced. It could be anything, did not have to be anything big, but he had to have reflected on this before the beginning of each of our sessions. In the first sessions this was a big struggle for Tom, but as he started to become more aware of the positive things around him, his attitude started to change.
Confidence and the Power of Visualization
When Tom would talk about his strengths he would very quickly shift to his weaknesses. Tom lacked confidence. He had not realized this before the coaching, but the more he talked, the more it became apparent. He was a star in making assumptions and these were usually not in his favor.
The main character in his daily struggle was his line manager a woman, let her name being Patricia. Patricia was 5 years older, an impressive, confident, and beautiful lady. She was strict but friendly but according to Tom, they missed the “click”. Tom made many assumptions, like: “she does not like me, she never comes into my office, she does not appreciate all the work I do, i can see it on her face, she does not trust me, she needs to control everything I do, I have to send her everything I do”.
The powerful questions I asked Tom were:
- All these things you are mentioning are they assumptions or is it really so?
- If you asked her and talk to her, how could that change your relationship with her?
- What is the worst that could happen, if you spoke to her about your uncertainties?
Once Tom found the answers to these questions, he wanted to confront her, but lacked courage. He made the appointment, but was dreading it.
To help him into action, I decided to use the tool of visualization.
Imagine you could look into time, what would the perfect meeting between the two of you look like?
- What would you look like?
- What could you do to be that person?
- What do you need to get there?
Despite these being very easy questions, it created such a change in Tom.
He decided that to be able to have this meeting:
- he had to prepare his questions well (write them down in order of priority)
- he needed to look professional (to feel confident and in control)
- he needed to make sure he questioned her on anything that was not clear for him.
Tom did find the courage to speak to Patricia and found out he had been making assumptions all along.
During the meeting, Patricia and Tom discovered his assumptions were not correct and decided to talk to each other in the future. They also discussed what would need to change for him to feel more confident and comfortable around her.
Tom has the feeling Patricia was not interested in him and his work, as she never spoke to him outside of their meetings.
What Tom had not known that as Tom always closes his office door, Patricia felt he needed his privacy and did not appreciate being disturbed. By keeping the door open, she felt welcome and even small talk was made. This was a scenario Tom could never have imagined.
Was your coaching effective? Why? Why not?
Looking back at the process, I believe the coaching was effective. However, I could have achieved a lot more at an earlier stage, had I coached the client and not the problem.
On the other hand thanks to the time we took, trust was created and he was able to discuss whatever was on his mind, which might not have happened at an earlier stage.
If I had coached the client, instead of the problem, I would have picked up on his underlying beliefs faster, and helped him get some obstacles out of the way.
One of the biggest learning was the tool of visualization. This was the tool that got him moving into action.
The Top 3 things I learned about this experience
- The first thing I learned: Coaching is about coaching the client and not coaching the issue. In Toms case: The fact of feeling trapped was about him and his confidence, not about his work.
- The second thing I learned: The power of positivity. By starting the session with a positive flow, the sphere created was lighter and easier than if we had started off raw.
- The third thing I learned that sometimes the client needs a little push to get into action, but he is the person who takes the steps. Tom needs to be acknowledged for who he is and with some confidence can achieve great things!
The greatest lesson is the Power of Coaching!