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Last updated on 6/12/19

Adopt an interactive coaching method suitable to the client’s needs

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In this chapter we will cover how to:

  • Prepare and ask effective questions 

  • Be and active listener 

  • Understand the uniqueness of each client whilst maintaining the values of equality  

How to prepare and ask high-quality questions

Asking high quality-questions means understanding the client you are working with. Their goals, as we discovered in earlier chapters, might be very different. They could range from deciding what they want to do next, through to interview preparation for an opportunity for internal promotion.

In this course, we are going to imagine we are working with Alice. We will get to know Alice well in the coming chapters. For now, what you know based on your Clarity Session is that Alice is currently employed, but is keen to set up her own business in the healthy lifestyle industry.  She wants to make a complete career change.

What questions should I ask someone who is looking to make a career change?  

Making any career changes is a challenge and moving from employment to self-employment poses unique challenges and risks. Whilst you want to encourage and motivate your client you also want to be sure they have thought through all the different aspects they will need to consider in running their own business, no longer having a salary or benefits, and be sure they are prepared both financially and emotionally for the journey ahead.

Starting with open-ended questions is a great place to start.  You can remind yourself of high quality open ended questions by using T.E.D.

So in the context of a career coaching session with Alice, we might ask her:

Tell me about what made you decided to start your own business in the healthy lifestyle industry... 

Can you explain a bit about the research you have done so far on what that business could look like? 

Could you describe what changes you anticipate having to make in other areas of your life to accommodate this change in career?  

Later on you might be asking questions that will help Alice to articulate her goal in measurable terms clearly, to ensure she is aware of where she is now and what her options are to move her forward. Finally, you will need to ask her questions that will help her to decide what actions she will take. For example:

When you do want to have made this shift by?  

How will you know you have been successful?  

Where are you at currently in relation to starting your healthy living business? 

What options do you have to build on your initial starting point?  What support do you need and from whom? Who has done this successfully before and how could you learn from them?  

What are you going to commit to doing? When will you do that by? How will you measure your progress and success? 

Whilst you can prepare some questions for your first career coaching session ahead of time, based on what was discussed at the Clarity Session (if you conducted one) and the information they provided on your intake questionnaire, it is also important to respond to whatever comes up in the career coaching session, and to ask for more details and clarity on any points that are unclear so that you have a really deep understanding and can, therefore, support your client effectively.

As you can imagine listening carefully to how Alice answers these questions is going to be very important.

How to be an active listener 

What is active listening? Why do I need to learn to be an active listener with my client? Isn’t active listening something used in counselling?

Active Listening is a communication technique which allows the coach to listen to his client with full attention whilst being able to respond with gestures, questions, note-taking, and even repetition.

He or she knows that you are fully focused on what they are saying. It is a tool that is used by both counsellors and coaches.

Rules and requirements of active listening:
  • Eye contact

  • Body gestures

  • Questions

  • Give feedback-Paraphrasing- Summarizing

  • Check for Feelings

  • Reflection

  • Note taking

  • No Interruptions

Listen to your client with full attention
You can also use the ONE method:
  • O (Open posture, effective mirroring and reading the participant’s body language)

  • N (Nodding your head when needed, not intensely but just enough that they know you are listening)

  • E (Eye contact, not too much or you will intimidate them instead of putting them at ease)

This is where recording a session can come in handy. Recording a session via audio will help you tremendously as it will free you from note-taking. This is especially good to assist you when giving feedback and help you further develop the action plan.

Treating Your Career Coaching Clients As Individuals

Your client is a very unique individual.

Treat all your clients equally, respectfully, according to their needs and boundaries. But never forget, they are different, never the same.

What do I mean by that? Even if you have two clients who are both women, same age, same ethnicity and even industries, they may have the same problems but indeed different barriers and abilities. One participant might be more practical, whilst the other is indecisive. One client might be quick and hasty, whilst the other one takes his time in all things. One client might be quiet and passive whilst the other one is loud and outspoken.

Therefore some clients will need more questions than others, whilst others will require more affirmation and recognition that you have understood their challenges.

Also, be aware that many factors will have affected them throughout the day before the session. Your client will have encountered all sorts of obstacles or personal situations.

So, be sensitive to the client’s work style. This is important to be able to engage their energy and motivation levels. 

Let's recap

  • Asking high-quality relevant questions is a crucial part of the coaching experience.

  • Listening to the answers actively is just as important. 

  • This makes for an interactive session that your client can engage with helping them to take ownership of their goals and progress towards them whilst also feeling supported to do so. 

  • Each clients situation is unique so whilst each client should be treated with the same levels of respect, and equally listened to, the actual questions you ask them will change based on their goal and circumstances and of course their answers!

Don't forget to complete the quiz at the end of this part, to check how you are getting on! Remember you can always go back and review if you need to. 

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement