The opportunity to work with a coach in support of your development can be a game-changer for you in your career. Or not. The outcome, in large part, is up to you. Here are seven things you can do to optimize your experience and results with your coach.

Seven Tips to Help You Get the Most Out of Your Coaching Experience

1. Frame the situation as a big positive for you

I’ve encountered more than a few individuals who, upon learning their boss is recommending a coach, perceive it’s about what they’re doing wrong. Mostly, your boss invested in coaching for you because she sees great potential. Treat this as a compliment, not a criticism.

2. Embed coaching (and practicing) into your work routine

Coaching arrangements are finite in duration, often running four to six months. During this period, it’s imperative to dedicate time for the coaching conversations, show up on-time for the calls, and take ownership of the suggested follow-up and workplace practice.

3. Keep your commitments for attendance and activities

When the coaching call becomes something expendable in your schedule, you’re not committed to your development. Much like skipping school or blowing off those 8:00 a.m. classes in college on Fridays, the only person you’re hurting is staring back at you in the mirror.

4. Keep a professional development journal

The journal is a powerful, inexpensive continuous improvement tool. For your coaching experience, the journal is invaluable for maintaining continuity through the coaching sessions, documenting your identified actions, and noting how things worked in practice.

5. Tap into the desire your coach has to help you grow

There are very few individuals you’ll encounter during your career who are there solely for your growth. Your coach isn’t your friend or parent dedicated to making you feel good. They’re truth-sayers prepared to challenge your thinking and encourage you to reframe situations and approaches. And, they want you to succeed in the long-term…not necessarily to feel good in the moment.

6. Do the work

Your development is a full-contact activity, where you need to do the heavy lifting. Your coach will look for your commitment and plan to adapt or adjust behaviors, but no one is there every moment looking over your shoulder. You learn and grow when you put the ideas and approaches into practice.

7. Bring your outcomes, ideas, and questions to every session

Coaches typically guide and lead through questioning. They’ll help you think about your actions and the reactions of others, and they’ll challenge you to assess tactics and identify alternatives. They’re not in place to give you the answers but rather to help you discover solutions for yourself. This only works if you show up ready to engage and ready to draw upon those great journal notes you kept all week.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

If the coaching arrangement goes sideways and doesn’t create great development value for you, you may have the wrong coach. However, it’s more likely you didn’t invest yourself fully in this potentially career-changing opportunity. Remember, you own your career and your development. The coach is there to help you, but first, you’ve got to help yourself by going all-in during the engagement.

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