Coaching Case Study By Ryan Schroeder
(Transformational Coach, UNITED STATES)
Who are the main players in this case study?
- James, mid-thirties, married, 1 yr. old son, starting a new business. Recently moved across the country to where he grew up.
- I had been working with this client for almost 6 months prior to this particular session. We began working together before I started taking classes with ICA. Through the courses and ICA process, I realized that my calls with James up to this point were more consulting, and not even very “good” consulting. I had been an advice giver and problems solver. We had 11 sessions up to this point, and this was our 12th and final call on the schedule. For this last call, I wanted to be a true coach for my client, rather than a dispenser of advice.
What is the core problem or challenge you applied your coaching skills to?
- Because this time was different than our previous conversations, I wanted to provide my client with a deeper level of coaching and what I would consider more value in coaching, we spent the majority of the hour long call establishing the challenge and getting at the root at what was going on with James.
- The initial goal that the client presented was very surface level and focused on a problem. He wanted help to prepare for an important meeting happening the next day. Coaching skills and tools were applied to dig deeper into the client’s presenting situation and to ultimately arrive at a much more profound and larger goal. At the end of the call we arrived at the actual issue, that the client wants to be more present for his wife and his young son, and be less distracted when he is with them.
Really dig into this problem, use these questions as a guide:
- Why is it a problem?
The reason to go deeper and find the underlying narrative was because the presenting problem did not require a coach. The first goal of prepping for an upcoming meeting, no matter how important, was something that the client could have done with other friends, family, or business mentor. Towards the end of the call, the client even provided feedback and said that he “is capable of making lists and prioritizing,” or “shooting the alligator closest to the boat.”
- How long has it been a problem?
The presenting problem had only been an issue for at most a week, probably even less. All the more reason to go deeper, and look at why is this being presented. The larger goal we found is something that had been a problem for most of the client’s adult life, but took on more importance in the past few months as James had a new son he wanted to be a good dad for.
- What is the worst thing about this problem?
The worst thing about this problem is that the client is not present with his wife and young son, and often find himself distracted. He has a desire that his family know that when he is physically with them, he is also there mentally and emotionally as well. Ultimately he wants to be a good husband and father, and the distractions of building a business are causing anxiety and fear that he won’t be a good husband and father.
- Why has no one been able to solve it so far?
The client didn’t realize how important this was for him because he had never articulated it in this way and didn’t have the full realization how ‘not present’ and constantly distracted he is with his family. This may have been the first time he had a safe space to process what was going on inside his head and heart and get them out to where they could be looked at without judgement.
What specific coaching skills or approach did you use in this case?
- Setting the agreement
- Active Listening
- Powerful questioning
- Effective Feedback
- Creating Awareness
- Strengths Finder
- Wheel of Life
- Goal setting and planning
- Perspective Shift
Explain your process in detail
- This was the 12th session I had with this client. The majority of the sessions were prior to me starting classes with ICA. So in the past I had been merely problem solving with this client. For this session I was intentional about putting the things I had been learning into practice. Because I had history with this client, I was able to draw on previous sessions information.
- The session began with establishing the goal for our time. There were several areas that the client presented. These were all logistical problems around business meetings and a big road trip that was coming up. I asked questions for clarity on the meetings, and the trip, and what was important about them. He wanted to get the meetings “right,” and spend time with friends and family on the trip. I gave feedback that he valued time with friends and family, and that work was pulling him away because he was always thinking about it.
- I followed up on something from a previous session and asked about an issue he had been struggling with previously and getting settled into a new house and had recently relocated. That brought up not having any boundaries for his work, as he does not have an office. That led to the time with his family being less intentional.
- I asked what was important about being intentional with his wife and son. The client was able to reference Strengths Finders brought up his Futurist strength. While a gift, his mind is always thinking of new ideas, and his Responsibility strength gives him a sense that he has to bring these ideas to life on his own. The combo often keeps him from being in the present moment.
- That established the real goal of the session, how can he be more present and less distracted when he is with his family – more in the moment long term. We had done the Wheel of Life on an earlier session and we were able to quantify this slice of the wheel. He was at 2 out of 10 in terms of being satisfied in this area and we talked about moving from a 2 to a 3.
- We only had a few minutes left, but we created a goal of being more present with his family. The plan was to create a boundary for work and family time. To do this we worked on shifting perspectives about time and money. He knows that he is more productive by working at a coffee shop but feels the travel from home to the shop takes up valuable time, and that spending money on coffee and food is a waster. We were able to look at how much of an investment that money is, and that financially he is already coming from a place of abundance rather than scarcity. The drive time to and from gives him space to think about what he needs to do for the day, and also to unwind on the way home and get himself into a place to be present now that he has been productive and set boundaries.
- We briefly entered into a plan for creating awareness about when he is getting pulled into future work plans while he is with his family, but did not spend much more time beyond initialling noticing of what he is thinking and feeling when that begins to happen.
What were the results of your process? Was your coaching/program effective? Why? Why not?
- The result of the 60 minute session is that the client got to a place where his goal went from “help me prepare for tomorrow’s meeting” to “I want to be more present and less distracted when I am with my wife and son.” This was the first time he was able to name this beyond a feeling. He realized how distracted he is and how much improving this would help him be a better husband and father. So in that way the coaching was very effective.
- I have not followed up with James since this conversation so do not know how this has impacted his life and where he is at with moving from a 2 to a 3 in terms of presence with his family.
If you could approach this problem again, what would you do differently?
- I would not have done things differently. My client arrived at a good place and l learned a great deal in the process. I don’t feel that any mistakes were made along the journey and that we ended up where we were supposed to be.
- In learning more about coaching and gaining more experience, I may have been able to ask the same questions earlier and began work of reframing perspectives more quickly. In that case, we could have spent more time on building a plan to achieve the goal.
- *I asked the client what he thought of this call, and if anything was different. He said I let him direct the call and come up with his own insights. That was very helpful for me to hear.
What are the top 3 things you learnt from this experience?
- I learned that the process works! Creating the space, establishing the agreement, active listening, powerful questioning, going deeper with motivational interviewing. This framework makes for something profound to come to light and real growth to happen.
- I gained a huge amount of confidence and I learned that I have the skills to be a great coach! So long as I am trusting the process and myself.
- I saw that clients aren’t necessary able to name what they want to work on. What they think is the goal may only be the tip of the iceberg and there is real value in listening for the theme and not getting caught in the situation.
- Also, I realized that I LOVE COACHING! I was in a place before the call where I was emotionally very low. It was the morning after the Las Vegas shooting and it hit me really hard. I was going to cancel the call, but I thought no there will be times when I am not at my best and will have full rosters of clients (hopefully). I kept the call and by the end of it, I had received so much energy by being able to support and empower my client!