Coaching is Not One Size Fits All

If there is one thing we have learned in the years we have spent coaching, it is that each engagement is different. At Apex we have created a number of coaching options based on the requests, budget, and needs of our clients, but the one thing that is consistent across all of our options is flexibility.

Some of the components we customize to meet the unique needs of each client include: 1) our approach (style) with the client, 2) the types of sessions we have with each client, 3) the length of the engagement, 4) who to include in the process, and 5) which assessments to use in each engagement.

Our Approach (Style)

No two clients are created equal. While some connect with their coach quickly and want to jump right in with both feet to get started, others are a bit more reticent. They may want to spend time learning about the process and their coach before they embrace the process. We spend time up front “reading” the client and determining the best approach for that individual. We flex our style to make sure the client’s needs are met and that they feel comfortable. For some, the process goes quickly, having short, frequent sessions, with a lot of touch points in between. For others, it means having longer, slower paced sessions and giving them information to review on their own. This allows them time to respond with their questions, as they absorb the information. For others, it could mean something entirely different. The key to success is for us to effectively adapt our approach to each and every client.

Types of Sessions (Medium)

We prefer to meet with our clients face to face. We believe that sitting with a client and being able to not just hear their words, but to also see their reactions, read their body language, and pick up on all non-verbal cues is essential to elevating an average coaching session to an extraordinary one. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to meet with a client face to face. For this reason, we do conduct some phone sessions as well as provide insight and input via email, to augment our face to face meetings. This allows us to keep the momentum going until we can have the more meaningful, in-person meetings; while meeting the clients’ work situation. Again, we flex to the reality of our clients and provide the best coaching engagement that meets their individual needs.

Length of Engagement

While budget is always a factor that drives the length of engagement, the needs of the coaching client are also a key factor. If a client is focused on one skill/competency that has already been identified as an area of opportunity we usually recommend Action Coaching. This is a 3 month engagement focused on only one (or possibly two) areas of opportunity. It allows us to do a focused, deep dive and move behavior in a positive direction in a relatively short time frame. Click here to see our Action Coaching Model.

When a coaching client needs to spend more time on exploration and wants to identify strengths, as well as weaknesses, to improve upon we recommend 6 months up to a year and beyond. Click here to see our 6 Month Coaching Model. This allows us to spend more time observing the client in action, talking with key stakeholders, and creating a robust Development Plan. Click here to see a template of our Development Plan.

Who to Include in the Process

We typically recommend a 360 assessment as a part of the coaching engagement. This includes peers, direct reports, and the manager of the coaching client. Based on the goals of the engagement, we may also choose to include internal and/or external customers of the client, previous managers, their manager’s manager, as well as colleagues from across the organization. These additional resources may be included in the 360 assessment or we may interview them. Interviewing them allows us to probe their responses and collect critical data that our client needs to grow and succeed in the organization. The key here is to collect as much data as possible, while always remaining in the background (some clients don’t like people to know that they have a coach).

Assessments

We have previously written an article about the variety of assessments we utilize in our coaching practice. Some of these include the DISC, MBTI, 360 Assessments, and Strengths Finders. We decide which assessments to use in each engagement based on client input and organizational continuity. We always want to build on previous developmental efforts with our clients and find it critical to stay in alignment with the organizational culture (e.g. if the organization uses the DISC, we don’t want to use the MBTI). To get more information about these assessments, please click here.

Conclusion

Although there are many constants across coaching engagements, we believe flexibility is the key to success. Since our clients work in unique organizations and have different needs and styles, we adjust our approach in order to ensure each client realizes their highest level of success. Some of the factors we flex include the assessments we use, the length of time we engage with the client, who we include in the process, our approach to each client, and the types of sessions we conduct with each coaching client. Our years of experience allow us to flex seamlessly and effectively as we work with each unique client.

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