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• What are the changes in behavior and skills thus far?
Does it appear as though progress is being made?
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• Does the client have more accurate self-perceptions and improved functioning in the areas needed?
• Is the client better able to make decisions?
• How satisfied is the client with the coaching experience?
• What business results are to be expected if behaviors improve?
• What are the reactions of interested stakeholders such as the boss, direct reports, and peers?
In this chapter, we have clarified the significant role played by HR professionals as “stewards” for coaching in their organizations. You have learned more about the three aspects of the HR professional role as they relate to coaching: managing the overall coaching program, supporting the start of new coaching assignments, and supporting the coaching during and at the end of the assignment. To help you manage your coaching resources, you have been given some critical questions to ask yourself as you fulfill your stewardship role. You have been advised of some the ways that you can support the start of new coaching assignments. Finally, you have learned about some of the most effective tasks that you may assume in order to maintain your support during and at the end of the coaching assignment. To help you evaluate progress toward goals, you have been given some questions to ask regarding the client’s behavior and its effects on the organization.
In the next chapter, you will learn more about the client’s role to help you understand more about what the client may be experiencing and how you can be instrumental in the client’s success.
What Is the Client’s Role?
You, the HR professional, play a pivotal role in the coaching story. We assume you would like to learn more about the client’s role and what the client might be experiencing during the coaching process. You can be instrumental in helping the client understand more about his or her role, so in this chapter we examine the client’s role in helping to ensure the success of the coaching relationship.
Coaching puts the client in a very active role. Nothing much of importance will happen as a result of coaching unless the client wants it to happen. All the other participants in the story are supporting characters. It is really all about the client and what the client wants to do.
This active role starts at the very beginning, when the first discussion is held about coaching. The client should have made an active decision to be a coaching client. Perhaps you, the HR professional, or perhaps the boss initiated the idea. Similarly, you may have been actively involved with the choice of who the coach would be and on what improvement areas the coaching will focus. However, ideally the client should enter this relationship with positive energy and curiosity.
The client should be comfortable about doing the coaching at this time. By “this time” we mean that the flow of the client’s work
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suggests that coaching might be helpful now, and the client is comfortable with both you and the boss as participants.
So now it’s time to actually start the coaching relationship. What should you be doing to help make it worthwhile for the client? What is the client likely to be experiencing during the coaching?
Topics covered in this chapter are
• Normal anxieties
• Ground rules and trust
• Taking responsibility
• The business relationship
• Time commitments
• Responsibilities to the boss and to the HR person
• Coachable moments
At the very onset of a coaching engagement, it is “normal” for the client to feel anxious and vulnerable. The client is starting on a high-disclosure, high-vulnerability adventure with a stranger! There’s only so much comfort one can gain from an initial chemistry-check meeting. The contracting sessions should help start the coaching process by reaching mutual agreement about goals and confidentiality, the methods to be used, frequency of sessions, and so on. Still, the client may feel a lingering sense of uncertainty as he or she embarks on an unknown journey. For the coaching to have a successful outcome, resulting in change and personal growth, it is wise to recognize that these feelings may accompany the client at the outset.
What might the client be anxious about? One answer to this question is that all changes come with some amount of stress. This is true for weddings, benchmark birthdays, promotions and new jobs,
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the birth of children, relocations—all the transitions and milestones of living, even the most joyous of them. Unhappy events certainly bring out a number of unsettling emotions, also. Coaching is associated with some degree of change in the client’s public leadership style, and that too can be a transition. The outcome may be only a fine-tuning or a minor adjustment, but it may lead to something more substantial as well. Either way, the client may feel as though the world is watching and that there is more pressure from the increased scrutiny.