Coaching Case Study By Siti Amanina Mohammad
(Career Coach, SINGAPORE)
I have known Amelia (name changed due to anonymity) for more than 15 years. We were in the same school and have been keeping in touch with each other since graduation. We recently met and managed to catch up on how we have been doing.She is a full-time working mother of 3 boys who are under the age of 5 and have been in the same job for almost 10 years now. She have reached 30s and shared that she recently started reassessing her life and thinking a lot about her career and family.
“I think I’m entering a life crisis. I feel off-track.” These were the exact words coming from her.
Amelia started working upon graduation at the age of 19 as a Human Resources Officer. She have been promoted twice in her grade. While she was in her 20s, she aspire to attain a Managerial role by the age of 35. She somehow lost the motivation along the way when she started a family and became more focused on them. She wanted to continue her studies and progress in her career but she often neglect that thought.
At the age milestone of 30, she is reassessing her career satisfactions and achievements. She is thinking of how to progress further at work or what steps to take to progress in her career. At the same time, she is trying to balance the demands of being a full-time working mother.
Amelia brought the agenda of attaining a balanced life in the coaching session.
Setting the foundation
Amelia is a close friend as we have known each other for a long time. The relationship formed between us is personal.
A coaching relationship, on the other hand,is a professional relationship. I had to be clear that coaching is more than a friendly chat. It is client-focused and the partnership focuses on designing and implementing changes in her life through awareness. She agreed to enter the coaching relationship.
Co-creating the relationship
As a close friend, the foundation of trust was built on the years of friendship. However, trust in a friendship does have its limits as she might choose not to discuss certain issues due to it being too personal or a fear that the issue would be made as a reference to another party.
In coaching, trust and rapport is built by creating a safe space that would encourage a client to share about herself and her feelings.As the coaching session provides a professional anonymous context to explore Amelia’s current situation safely, she was assured that information shared during the coaching conversation is kept confidential.
In my opinion, trust and rapport needs to be earned and maintained at every coaching conversation. It would lead to a productive and fulfilling coaching session where Amelia would be receptive to design and implement changes in her personal or professional life.
In addition, having empathy helps me to connect with her in a positive, supportive and understanding way. In turn, it helps to build the trust and rapport in coaching. Lack of empathy may make a client become resistant and isolate themselves from making any change in their life.
Getting into a conversation with Amelia was not difficult since we often share and discuss issues with each other. We would exchange ideas and feedbacks in our conversation.However, during the coaching conversation, I had to remind myself of the 80/20 rule for good communication. This 80/20 dictates that good communication is about spending 80% of my time listening and 20% of my time talking.
Active listening is about being present and in the moment by listening with all senses during the conversation. During the coaching session, conscious effort was needed to hear not only the words that was spoken but the complete message that is being communicated. Facial expressions and tone of voice was telling more than the words alone.
Apart from active listening skills for effective communication,a conducive environment with minimal distractions ensured that there were no interference with the listening. In addition, it took discipline to shut down my internal dialogue as my internal voice could interfere with the listening.
During the coaching session, it was also useful to capture keywords as it helped me to reinforce that the messages have been received and understood.
In response to active listening, I applied powerful questioning by asking open-ended questions to encourage a complete and meaningful answer, leading to clarity, discovery and awareness. At the same time, I had to ensure that the question formulated did not reveal an attempt to lead or influence her thoughts and responses.
Based on the coaching session, I came to understand how active listening, powerful questioning and direct communication is a follow through process to bring out awareness and allow Amelia to explore her options and discover solutions on her own to make changes or take action based on her agenda.
Facilitating learning and results
The Wheel of Life was used to help Amelia get an overall overview of where she is at in life by helping to assess what is off balance and identify areas that needs more attention.
Amelia identified 8 areas of focus or categories that form the foundation of her overall life experience – Children, Career, Personal Growth, Health, Finance, Recreation and Relationships. The Wheel of Life was able to give her a visual representation of the gaps that currently exist in her life. She compared her current life balance to her ideal life balance and identified the gaps in the areas of her life that needed attention.
At this point where Amelia is aware of the gaps that needed her attention, powerful questioning played a crucial role in gaining awareness and discovering her own thoughts and feelings to come up with her own solution to move forward. Some of the open-ended questions to facilitate awareness was:
- What are the gaps you would like to improve on?
- Which area do you believe would be the most important to focus on in coaching?
Nearing the end of the coaching session, I did a check-in to find out where Amelia is at now versus where she was when we started the session. Amelia felt that she now have a clearer view on her life balance. She identified Personal Growth as an important area to focus on.
As part of her action plan, she will be enrolling into a part-time Human resource Degree programme. She felt that there is a need to take action to upgrade herself by as it would be a stepping stone to progress further in her career.