- a. Brining in Data (divergence): In this phase the coach’s questions center around understanding the situation by bringing in data about the issue and the context that surrounds the issue. There are two sets of data that the coach must focus on : i) The objective and factual data about the situation as the client sees it and ii) The reflective and perceptual that explore the feelings that underlie the areas being covered. Covering one data set without the other can later lead to incorrect interpretations and hence skewed solutions
- b. Meaning Making (Interpreting the data): Once the data of the situation is completely available, the coach can now move the conversation towards the interpretation of the reflective and objective data that is available. Questions in this phase will revolve around the “meaning” of the data. What does this mean to you? What are the implications of this?
- c. Generating Options: The meaning-making phase is followed by the coach moving the conversation towards looking at generating options based on the interpretations and meanings that the client now has articulated. Good questions at this stage are around asking: What are the possible alternatives you see in terms of moving forward? What are some of possible steps that you can envisage? It is also important for the coach to try and look for multiple alternatives instead of settling on one of them quickly.
Coaches sometimes tend to skip this step because the earlier stage brings forth the alternatives with the client already inclined in favour of one or the other. However, we believe that it is crucial to engage with the evaluation process, which, weighs the pros and cons of each option and then moves towards the final decision and action as required.
The best approach at this stage is look at each option is depth and look at both the intended and unintended consequences that might arise if the particular path is chosen. It is also important to look at the movement from both, a task /cognitive (price, cost, effort, resources) perspective as well as a relationship/emotive (hurt, anger, happiness) perspective. At this stage the coach must help the client zero in on the option that is the most optimal.
Now that the client has arrived at a preferred option or line of action, it is time to concretize the same and coach can go through the following sub steps to ensure that the closure is done in a manner that moves the client to action.
- a. The first step: Though the action plan may be clear, breaking it down into the “first step” which the client can act on spurs the client to think and commit to action. This small win is crucial for the client’s progress and hence we recommend that the coach try and lock in on this first step.
- b. Time commitments: It might be prudent to also see if the client will feel supported if deadlines or time commitments are made during the conversation. The idea would be to keep the question open ended and enable the client, if he or she would like to look at a time line for actions
- c. Support: This is also the time to check if the client requires any support from the coach in this journey,
- d. Reiterate and summarize: The coaching conversation can then end with the client summarizing the journey he envisages forward with clear actions.
At this point the session can be closed with any future commitments that the coach and the client wish to make
5. + 1 E: Ethics
Needless to say, at all points of time, during and after the conversation the “ethical” guidelines that govern the coaching profession must be kept in view and followed completely. At any point, if there is doubt, it is important for the coach to reach out to a mentor or co practitioner to discuss and resolve ethical dilemmas that may arise in practice.
We believe that if a coach stays true to the process outlined above, the outcomes for the client are likely to be well thought through, comprehensive and positive.