How to Approach Common Coaching Scenarios

Career plateau, unsure what to do next

Overview: Coachees may feel stuck, restless; they know that there is something missing, but are having trouble pinpointing what they want instead and how to go after it.

Challenges for the coach: helping shape a vague vision (like a slab of clay) into a clear strategy with a goal and next steps. Holding space for the client even in the midst of uncertainty as you both “feel your way through the dark” for clarity. 

PLANT

  • What is working best for you right now? What aspects of your role do you enjoy most? When do you feel the most “in the zone”?
  • What strengths are you currently using in your day-to-day work? What strengths are dormant, or not being applied to their fullest potential?
  • One year vision: how do you want to feel in your role? What are your known variables, what you know that you do want?

SCAN 

  • What excites you as you look further out, say one year ahead?
  • Who is doing what you want to do?
  • Who, higher up in the company, can you speak with?
  • Which peers can you set-up informal lunches or coffee meetings with?
  • What internal programs do you want to explore (training, rotation, etc.)
  • What additional skills would help you get from where you are now to where you want to go? How will you acquire them?  

PILOT

  • What 10-20% projects can you experiment with?
  • What projects can you take on within your current team or role?
  • Are there other internal teams you want to speak with, and potentially apply to work with?

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Seeking promotion

Overview: Those who are getting restless in their role, or frustrated about the length of time that has passed since their last promotion

Challenges for the coach: not having exact details as you are not their manager, not making promises or making their manager wrong; helping to find things within the coachees’ power to do, and what is really underlying the desire for promotion (regardless of when they get it)

PLANT

  • What is important to you about getting a promotion, getting to the next level? What would that help you feel/achieve/do?
  • Besides the promotion itself, what is important to you? (Salary, recognition, change in role)
  • What types of progress have you and your manager discussed that would take you to the next level?
  • What is most important to you in your role today and in the future?

SCAN

  • Is there a gap between your current knowledge or skillset and what is required for promotion?
  • If so, what would help you bridge that gap?
  • Is there a higher level role available on your team? Or would you have to change teams to get promoted?
  • What next conversations do you want to have with your manager?
  • What would help you gain the clarity you seek?

PILOT

  • What projects could you take on that would help you demonstrate aptitude?

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Manager communication (dealing with tough conversations in either direction)

Overview: When someone is having trouble communicating with their manager it can be quite disheartening, and it is often one of the biggest reasons for attrition.

Challenge for the coach: not to make the manager wrong, but rather to help suss out what positive next steps the person can take to frame up conversations and achieve greater harmony in their role and on their team

PLANT

  • For a specific conversation: what is important to you about having this conversation? (or improving communication)
  • What is most important to you to convey?
  • What is your ideal outcome from the conversation?

SCAN

  • What would make this conversation a success?
  • How do you want to show up, regardless of how the other person responds?
  • Jot down notes on what is most important to you to discuss.

PILOT

  • Run through the conversation with a friend, or practice how you want to communicate the toughest aspects.
  • Schedule time on calendar; include a mini-agenda of what you would like to discuss.

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New role (proactive or displaced)

Overview: When someone knows they are in a position to find a new role it can sometimes be a welcome change, other times quite stressful, given that their livelihood depends on the result of the coaching (or at least seems that way!)

Challenge for the coach: not to try to make too many suggestions up front about teams, roles - not trying to “put out the fire” without first exploring what this person actually wants. Help them build confidence back up and use this as a “blessing in disguise” type opportunity to recalibrate

PLANT

  • (Same Plant questions as first section above)

SCAN

  • What teams interest you most?
  • What types of roles?
  • Do you want to stay in this office location, or consider a move?
  • By when do you want to make this move?

PILOT

  • What informal meetings could you set up?

HELP WITH INTERVIEW PREP

  • Updating resume
  • Interview prep and run through: ideal outcomes, key talking points

POST-INTERVIEW DEBRIEF:

  • What went well?
  • What would you do differently next time?
  • How excited were you about that role or team?
  • What are the next steps?

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Leadership (how to be a more effective manager)

Overview: Coaching can be a great accelerator for people who want to set a vision for what they want to become, then take steps to put that vision into action. Leadership development coaching is a great opportunity to highlight existing strengths and successes as a platform for further growth.

Challenge for the coach: helping leaders gain perspective on their strengths and areas for development. Oftentimes leadership coaching will also help with scheduling, delegation, and energy management—all of which relate to being able to “show up” strongly as the person wants to.

PLANT

  • What is most important to you as a leader?
  • When you are at your best as a leader, what are you doing?
  • What are your biggest areas for development as a leader?

SCAN

  • Who do you admire within the organization? Outside of it?
  • What qualities do these people share?
  • What classes would be relevant to helping you develop your skills as a leader?

PILOT

  • What feedback can you collect from peers, your manager, and direct reports?
  • What small experiments can you try with your schedule, your 1:1s, team meetings in terms of leadership development?

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Performance (post-performance review)

Overview: If someone has recently gotten a low rating, they may sign-up for coaching with full awareness and agreement, wanting accountability and structure for making these development changes, or they may be coming in surprised—and need help raising their awareness in the first place.

Challenge for the coach: helping the client identify what factors led to this review - both perception from outside parties and what is going on within. Perhaps the review highlighted underlying dissatisfaction or a role that is not a fit.

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Unhappy/stressed/frustrated/lost

Overview: This type of engagement is similar to the plateau, but with a much more emotional charge to it. For that reason, it can be helpful to take the earlier sessions more slowly, exploring vision and values, before trying to move on to tactical suggestions.

Challenges for the coach: acknowledging how the person is feeling without letting sessions get derailed by venting; interrupting when necessary to ask what the negative elements point to in terms of desired vision.

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