The executive coaching relationship is unique.
The best coaching relationships are true partnerships.
If you or your company has hired an executive coach for you to work with, you naturally want to get the best possible return on this investment. If you go into your initial meeting with your coach with no preparation whatsoever, you can hold back the process. But if you prepare yourself and commit to certain practices, you can ensure that you learn more from the experience and more importantly, that you reach your most important goals. Here are several things to do once you’ve hired an executive coach to set the stage for success.
Set Realistic Goals
You will work with your coach to define specific goals, but it’s best to have some idea of what these are before you begin the coaching process. If you’re not sure, try to think of three specific goals that you would like to reach. For example, you may want to improve your delegation skills, communicate better, and learn how to resolve conflicts effectively.
Once you work with your coach, those goals will become more specific and will be fleshed out to include specific objectives you can work on from one coaching session to the next so that you won’t feel like you have to accomplish everything at once.
Ask your coach if there are any books you should read before or during the coaching process. During coaching sessions, take notes and ask questions. Ask for helpful resources, or search for them online. Share what you’ve found with your coach. Executive coaching clients who are hungry to learn and who make the effort to inform and educate themselves are better primed to polish their skills and put them to work.
Learn to Be Receptive to Feedback
Just as it’s not easy to give tactful, constructive feedback, it’s not easy to accept it. Learning how can be highly beneficial though.
We all like to think we’re open to feedback, but are we really? Can you remember back to a time when feedback stung, or when you didn’t take it well? It’s important to try to figure out why that was, and to address the underlying issue. Maybe you were just having a bad day and that bit of honest feedback was enough to ruin it thoroughly. Or maybe you’re not as receptive to feedback as you think. Opening yourself up to honest feedback is vulnerable, but it’s how you open yourself up to real change.
Keep a Journal
Get a notebook or set up a document specifically for notes on the coaching process. Coaching sessions can be information-dense, and it’s impossible to remember everything. Make notes as you complete coaching assignments and make notes on coaching sessions. If a coaching assignment touches on a real-world issue, write it down. Simply knowing how your more-developed skills actually affect your performance can be a strong motivator to continue with your best efforts.
Ask for Help
It’s OK to get stuck sometimes. If you’re having trouble with a particular goal and cannot figure out where the problem lies, ask questions. Executive coaches (at least the ones worth the investment) answer questions frequently. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you’re having difficulty. A good executive coach wants you to recognize obstacles and help you find the best way to overcome them.
Executive coaches can work wonders, but only if they have clients who are as committed to change and improvement as they are. Coaches aren’t miracle workers or magicians, and it’s only when both coach and client are committed, enthusiastic, and prepared that great things can happen. Taking the first step of hiring a thoroughly vetted coach with a strong track record is a great start.
Taking further preparatory steps, and then committing to certain practices during the executive coaching process itself can turn “good enough” results into superlative results. If you’re interested in learning more, I’d like to invite you to explore my leadership coaching services.