It’s easy for the client of a sports coach to play a great game during the coaching session or for the corporate client to talk a good game in their hour with the coach. But what’s more important is for them to transfer those displays of skills into the arenas where they count.
To mitigate the effect of looking good in rehearsal but not always peaking when the lights go up, we build project work into our organisational coaching programmes. We want to learn about real results, and in particular the difference that bringing in coaching techniques is making to the important everyday work. We ask for quantitative and qualitative reports. What’s changed? What’s different, and are those differences - on reflection - worthwhile?
To be a coach is to be willing to trade control (or the illusion of control, more likely) for influence. And sometimes that influence goes unseen. One consequence is that it’s the coach’s job to trust the player more than the player trusts themselves.
It’s relatively easy for a solutions-focused coach, as we already take the view that the client as expert in their own performance. Sure, the coach brings something, including helping the client to identify their critical variables. We may also know stuff from our experience, which we can share if the client demands information, even though it may be detrimental for them compared to figuring it out for themselves. There’s a balance here if a client wants to pay for transfer of knowledge. One solutions is to tell them what they want to know, and ask if it is working to improve their game.
If you are a more traditional coach, whose main role has been to transmit your technical expertise to your client, you could convert what you are telling people to do into elements you can direct their attention and awareness towards. A 'doing instruction’ becomes an ’awareness instruction'. We invite our clients to learn from testing and experience, not from (our admittedly expert) hearsay.
Then your client goes off to do the work between your sessions. And we may or may not see how they perform, but they can report on progress - and their own recipes for managing to succeed - when they choose to return.