Working With Your Coach

By Katee Van Horn
Published on: June 5, 2020

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We have talked a bit about finding a coach and the reasons to use a coach. Let’s now turn to how a coach actually works with a client.

First Meeting

When you select a coach there are a few things you should expect. First, they should meet with you to understand your needs. A coach will ask probing questions to get to the root cause of the issue. For example, you might be stuck in a rut at work. The coach will ask questions to understand how to address these issues. You may need a change of scenery (new company) or a change of focus (new career). Coaches don’t supply the answers, they help you to self-reflect on your deeper needs and to find the answer. During that first meeting you will come to an agreement around what work the coach will be doing with you. You will also determine the “definition of done”, which we will discuss later.

Where to Meet

This first meeting can happen virtually. I prefer for it to be in person when it’s possible. You can meet just about anywhere. I like to meet my clients in a coffee shop or somewhere else where we can have a private and relaxed conversation. Other options are meeting in your office or a restaurant. Choose what feels right for you.

Who Else Will She Meet

The coach may ask to have access to people who will be a part of the solution. This may be your boss, folks on your team who report to you or are peers, spouses and other family members. You might think this is a bit much, but understanding the full picture will help your coach. She may need to get the opinions and feedback from the people who know you best. One of my favorite parts of coaching is helping people to be more self-aware. We sometimes have blinders on regarding our behaviors and actions. The interviews with those who are close to you will help pull back those blinders.

What to Share

There are certain things you should share with your coach. If you are using your coach for professional needs, share the truth about how things are going at work. Don’t sugar coat how you think work is going. If you are using your coach for personal needs, the same rules apply. The more honest and forthright you are, the better the sessions and the work will go.

Hold off on using the coach as a confessional or medical expert. If you need to confess your sins, talk to your religious advisor. If you are having migraines because of the stress you are under, seek medical attention. This doesn’t mean you cannot share your feelings and personal thoughts. You can and should. If you have a great coach, they will help to define where they can help. They will also suggest times where a different professional might be a better answer.

Definition of Done

The expression “definition of done” is actually from agile software development. It is a decision made at the beginning of a project defining what completion looks like. I use this with my clients so we are in agreement about what we are trying to solve. It also defines success. If you are trying to figure out your next career move, the definition of done is when you land a new job.

It feels great when you are at the place of definition of done. You feel a sense of accomplishment and completion.

These steps are fairly universal for all coaches, with some possible differences based on their individual process. If you open yourself to coaching, you can achieve more, better and faster.

Katee Van Horn

Katee Van Horn

Katee is an HR strategist and international keynote speaker focused on global Inclusion, Diversity and Belonging (IDB). She is a former VP of Engagement & Inclusion for GoDaddy, a Fortune 500 company, where she helped build a truly special IDB culture. Her work there was featured in the NY Times and resulted in earning HRDive’s 2017 Executive of the Year Award. She now leads VH Included Consulting & Coaching, focusing on partnering with global organizations to strengthen their cultures. She sits on the Multicultural Advisory Board for One Community and is a board member of Firefly Education. She is particularly interested in moving underrepresented groups into leadership to achieve IDB goals.

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