I often suggest to my coaching clients that coaching is continuous, not a series of isolated events. What does this mean? Many people rely on past experience to think about how they view coaching. This often results in the thought that the only time coaching is available to them is at formal scheduled appointments and for a standard length of time. Some coaching clients even think that it would be an interruption to their coach to have any contact outside those scheduled appointments. Nothing could be further from the truth.
One should think of their coaching as a continuous process. Your coach is really available to you via email or voicemail or brief phone conversations at almost any time (within reason) between coaching sessions. In my experience these aspects of the coaching outside of scheduled appointments is significantly underutilized by most leaders and executives who have a coach. For coaches who are concerned this will create boundary problems with their clients, I have been coaching since 2002 and I have never had a coaching client abuse or misuse my availability to them.
We know that leaders who learn the most have a pattern in their life of action and reflection. Without reflection, we have a tendency to just forge ahead with the demands of life. One way to think about your coaching conversations is as an intentional and interactive moment of reflection.
One example of a between scheduled session interaction would be the occasional debrief on the phone that’s scheduled after a critical event in the coaching, like a major presentation that you’re making or a specific team event where you’re working on developing your leadership skills. This type of experience is where some of the most significant learning and personal development can occur by taking time to reflect with your coach and capture significant learning. What worked well? What would I do differently? What is the most important take away from this experience? My suggested rule on this type of debrief is to do it within 24 hours of the event, while it is still fresh.
So don’t hesitate to initiate contact with your coach between scheduled sessions. The two of you can design the rules that work for both of you. You may very well find that this time you spend with your coach between scheduled meetings become a part of the rhythm of your coaching where the momentum of the coaching is enhanced and maintained. It might turn out to be some of the best use of your coach’s time.
Wishing you and yours a joyous and prosperous 2016!