A Coaching Model Created by Lisa Fain
(Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
As a coach, I serve as a guide for my client, and, due in large part to my own love for hiking, I imagine my role as a hiking guide for my client, eager to set off on a mountain trail. Just as a hiker must choose their destination, prepare for the hike, and set off on the hike with care and support, so must the client:
- Choose their Destination
- Prepare for the Journey
- Get Support Along the Way, and
- Plan the Next Journey.
Jane the hiker. For the purpose of this coaching model, let us imagine that Jane is the hiker looking to hike Sunset Mountain, because she has heard the view from the top is breathtaking. I’ll imagine that I am her hiking guide.
Bill the Client. Let us assume that a fictitious client Bill is my new coaching client, who has come to me with a desire to find a new job in project management by the end of the year.
Choose the Destination
When choosing the trails to follow, a hiker considers the terrain, the weather, the view at the top, the length of the hike, and the shape that he/she is in to take the hike. First I’d ask Jane what is compelling her to hike Sunset? What’s her “why?” For example, she may be looking for a physical challenge, celebrating a milestone or hoping to see a beautiful panorama of a mountain range. She may just want some solitude and to be out in nature. With this reflection and understanding, Jane can make sure that climbing Sunset will achieve her desired outcomes.
Additionally, Jane may come to me in March seeking to summit Sunset. However, in March the trail is still covered in snow, making the journey more difficult. I’d ask Jane if she is physically able to handle the path when it is covered in snow. It may require more leg strength. Is she up for that? I may ask Jane what she knows about the view from top? If Jane is hoping for a panorama of mountains, but the vista from Sunset is of the ocean, she may want to pick a different mountain. Perhaps Jane still wants to climb Sunset. As her guide, I will support her as she prepares for the journey.
Similarly, as his Coach, I’d ask Bill what is compelling him to make a job change in project management by the end of the year. Some questions might include — What is he doing currently? What about his current job does he enjoy? What are his strengths? What would happen if he stayed? This would help Bill understand and connect to “Why” he wants to change jobs, and understand better what he might want to look for in his next position and whether the timeline makes sense for him.
In addition to questions about the reasons for a job change, I’d ask Bill about Project Management. Some questions might include: What does he find attractive about that field? What skills is he hoping to use in the that position? Does he want to lead a team? What skills might he need that he doesn’t yet have? Bill must weigh these and other factors to determine if Project Management is indeed the field he wants to explore. Regardless of his decision, as his coach, my job is to help prepare him for his chosen journey.
Prepare for the Journey.
Back to Jane. She has decided that she does want to climb Sunset Mountain in March. Together, we discuss how she can best prepare for the journey. What tools and resources will she need? How will she get them? How does she need to prepare physically for the journey? What is her plan to get in shape? When will she exercise? Where? How?
Jane and I will also discuss the obstacles that might arise on her hike so that she can plan for a overcome then. For example, suppose that a great storm has hit the Mountain in January that has strewn the trail with debris. How will she navigate the path? Does she need additional resources?
For Bill, he has decided that he does want to pursue a new job in Project Management, but his initial thought on timing doesn’t make sense because he has a big bonus coming up in January and is planning a wedding for his son in December. Plus, he has learned that a certification in Project Management would be greatly beneficial as he enters that job, and the best certification program for him doesn’t complete until January. So, Bill has decided that he’d like to work with me on a plan for his job search and certification completion and job transition in March. Bill and I discuss his study plan, how and with whom he’d like to network, what resources and people he might call on to set him up for success.
As Jane’s guide and Bill’s coach, my job now is to provide support along the way.
Get Support along the Way.
Jane has begun to prepare physically for her Sunset Mountain hike. She is getting in shape, has scheduled vacation, and is starting to get excited. As it happens, in December, the store at which Jane was going to buy all her hiking gear unexpectedly closes. It was a discount store, so Jane now needs to find another store and find additional money in her budget. She’s also sprained her ankle and needs to get it strong enough to heal. As her guide, I can help her find an alternative source for her gear, ask her questions about how she might find the funds if it should be more expensive, and help her with a training plan to build ankle strength.
Jane is ready for the hike in March. I accompany her on the hike. As we encounter debris and obstacles along the path, I remind her of our planning and we tackle these obstacles together, reaching the summit after an arduous but rewarding journey.
My client Bill has enrolled in his certification plan, begun to study and started networking with others in his chosen field. He is a bit uneasy with how to network and nervous for a upcoming conversation with a friend of a friend who works at ABC corporation, a company he thinks he may be interested in. As his coach, I provide a place from him to practice and imagine himself having had a successful conversation.
Unfortunately, Bill doesn’t pass his certification exam when he takes it in January. Bill and I reflect on what went wrong, what got in the way and devise a new plan to set him up for success when he retakes the exam a few weeks later. Additionally, I help Bill continue on his networking and job search at the same time, so he doesn’t get derailed as he continues to study. Bill passes on his retake. He is also offered a position in Project Management at ABC that he will start on March 15.
What is next for Jane and Bill?
Plan the Next Journey.
Jane has reached the summit. How will she enjoy the view? What is next for her? As her guide, I help her take the time to appreciate how far she has come, what she has accomplished, and I challenge her to find another challenge that is meaningful for her. Thus, the process begins again.
So, too for Bill, who has accomplished his goal of finding a new position. As his coach, I acknowledge his accomplishments and challenge him to reflect on and appreciate how far he has come. I also ask him some challenging questions, such as “how does he want to show up in his new job?” “How would he like to grow and be challenged?” “what does he want to learn next”. Thus, for him too, the process begins again.