Thursday, August 11, 2016

When You Just Aren’t Feeling It in Your Coaching Relationship

Guest post from Judy Nelson:

What happens when you no longer feel the enthusiasm you once had for your coaching sessions?

You know the signs of problems:

ü  Sighing when you realize it’s time for another call or meeting

ü  Thinking about all the other things you could be doing instead of the session

ü  Wondering whether it was a good use of your time when the call ends

Or worse…

ü  Dreading the call

ü  Saying you need to sign off early when you don’t

ü  Considering rescheduling even though you don’t have a good reason

ü  Cancelling altogether

Most coachees have been there—and so have most coaches! If one of you feels this way about the coaching session, then in all likelihood the other does, too.

Neither of you mentioned it because it’s uncomfortable. However, avoiding the discomfort of bringing up uncomfortable subjects is just further proof that the coaching process is derailing.

It’s time to address the uncomfortable issue directly. Maybe not asking point blank, “Do you dread our sessions, too?”, but rather, “If it’s okay with you, I’d like to spend a few minutes today talking about where we are in the coaching process.” Another option could be, “I’ve noticed a decreased energy between us in our last few sessions. Perhaps we could think about whether we need to make some changes.”

Recognizing your negative feelings is an opportunity to take necessary action. Here are four more tips for addressing what could feel like an awkward issue:

1.    Email ahead. Ask for time to be set aside to discuss progress or next steps. It ensures that both of you will come to the session mentally prepared for the conversation.

2.    Rehearse Your Lines. Having the right words ready makes it easier to say and helps you find the ones that communicate in the best possible way. Some examples could be, “I noticed that I’m not putting as much into the coaching process as I was early in our relationship.” Or you could try, “Sometimes, I’m unprepared for our sessions and I think about canceling.”

3.    Be ready with suggestions. He or she might ask for suggestions on how to make the process work better for you. Be ready to answer. A possible response could be, “Sometimes, it feels like we’re losing focus.” Or perhaps try, “There are times when I’m not feeling engaged with our process.” Solutions could include stepping up the timeline or modifying the sessions tone or style.

4.    Read the room. If the other person reacts defensively or sounds irritated with your discussion, it might be time to take a break.

Coaches: Are You Wasting Your Client’s Money?

Professional coaches have set goals and timelines for the client along with scheduled, periodic reviews. However, these measures do not preclude a decline in energy required for coaching success.

Try this exercise to see if your coaching experience needs work:

Make a list of all of your current clients. Imagine that you have a coaching appointment in one hour. Assess how you would feel in anticipation of the meeting:

Excited, Energized
Resigned, Bored

·         The clients who received checks in the excited/energized or positive columns probably feel the same way. All clear here.

·         Anticipating a client call in a neutral mood could be a warning sign for troubled water. Is it time to right the ship?

·         If your anticipatory reaction as the coach is resigned or negative, it’s a red flag and a call to action: the coaching relationship is headed for rocky shores.

·         And dread? The moment of truth is upon you. How will you respond?

Clients: Are You Ready to Step up Your Professionalism?

Executive coaching develops a client’s self-awareness and self-management skills to become a more competent professional. Like the coach, the client also has a responsibility to monitor progress (or lack thereof) toward his goals. If the client feels bored with the coaching process, then she has every right to suggest a pause for reflection.

It is not easy, especially for people with a natural high need to please, high anxiety, and insecurity (or all of the above). But true professionals embrace and manage discomfort. Moreover, practicing this skill is exactly the type of exercise to try in a coaching session.

The bottom line? Both coach and client have an obligation to address negative feelings as soon as they are aware of them. To continue the sessions without exploring these concerns is, at best, unprofessional. If unaddressed, the feelings will make the remainder of the coaching process even less effective and more dreaded.

In other words, if you don’t fix the problem together, then you two will end up wasting both of your time and the client’s money. And nobody wants that—least of all the client!

@CoachJudyNelson has golfed with presidents, been heckled by famous comedians, and researched insurance policies for riding elephants on behalf of Zsa Zsa Gábor. As a former CEO, Judy has been a Certified Professional Coach since 2006 and assists leaders and career seekers to develop and reach stretch goals. Her new book, Intentional Leadership (Motivational Press, 2016) debuts later this year.

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