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'The Change Process and Coaching' from Leading with Intention with Lisa G. Kramer

The Change Process and Coaching

By: Lisa G. Kramer, MSW, PCC

“You will have wonderful surges forward. Then there must be a time of consolidating before the next surge. Accept this as part of the process and never become downhearted.” Eileen Caddy

Coaching is a process of action and learning. Clients come to coaching to make changes in their lives. They take action, and then pause to reflect on the impact of the action. Based on the learning from this reflection, they take action again. It is this cycle of action and learning that sustains change over time. The change process evokes a range of feelings from excitement to fear to joy to frustration. The coaching partnership provides clients with a safe environment to integrate these emotions (emotion = energy in motion) to move forward and achieve their goals.

From the very first coaching conversation, coaches can educate their clients about the change process and prepare them for change. Clients begin coaching with great enthusiasm---they’ve made an important decision to move forward in their lives, and that decision alone can be quite energizing. At some point, typically between the second and third months of coaching, there may be a dip in enthusiasm. Clients have been engaged in the process long enough to realize that coaching is not magic, and it is not a ‘quick fix’. In order for sustained change to occur, clients have to do the work. While they may have known this intellectually, experiencing it feels much different. That is why it is important to establish an initial coaching agreement of three to four months. It gives the client time to understand what it means to be a client. I recommend a three month check-in to evaluate how the coaching is going. I email my clients a list of questions and ask them to set aside some time at our next call to discuss them. 

The questions are:

  • What changes have I made since I started coaching?
  • What goals am I currently working on?
  • What has been most helpful for me in working with a coach?
  • What would I like more of from coaching? Less of?

The three month review is critical for a number of reasons: it provides both you and your client with an opportunity to evaluate the coaching; you, the coach, get helpful feedback from the client to use going forward; and it honors the relationship as a partnership. Some clients decide at the three month point to end the coaching relationship. Perhaps they came to coaching with a specific project that they wanted to begin or complete and have reached that goal. Or they may not be ready to do the work that is required to make significant changes in their lives. They know the door is open to pursue coaching again in the future. For now, they are ready to take a break.

Fortunately, many clients decide to stay with coaching for a longer time period. They recognize that they are on a path that requires more time, energy and focus. Does that mean that coaching is smooth sailing from here? Not necessarily. However an important milestone has been reached. This milestone represents a kind of surrendering-to-the-process. Clients now understand the power of the relationship in effecting change, and they recognize that this power is a direct result of their commitment to coaching and to their personal growth.

About the Author

Philadelphia-based leadership/executive coach Lisa Kramer, PCC is founder and president of Leading with Intention, a coaching company that partners with organizations to achieve greater business and personal success through leadership and executive coaching, and coaching skills training. For more information about Leading with Intention, go to: www.leadingwithintention.com and follow Lisa at www.facebook.com/leadingwithintention.

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