Making the Most Out of Your Coaching Experience

A new year has started and with every new year come new resolutions.

Somehow many of us like to think that we can start again with a clean slate. A blank page. A new chapter. But the truth is there is no clean slate and nothing new to be expected if we aren’t willing to open our eyes and seize the chance to do new things, different things to get the new and different outcomes we’re hoping for.

One way (and in my view, the most effective way) to open our eyes is through coaching. Coaching is available in almost every field and can help you in improving your personal and professional lives.

Coaching can be a rewarding experience in many aspects, but it is important to find the right coach and to do what you can to make the coaching experience as beneficial as possible. Keeping that in mind, here are my suggestions on how to get the most out of a coaching engagement.

Finding the Right Coach:

The coaching experience begins by finding the right coach for you. You can ask friends and relatives to recommend coaches, but once the interview process begins you should ask relevant questions to make sure your coach relates to you on a personal and professional level.

In a professional sense, they must have the qualifications you are looking for. They should have first-hand experience in your professional field and should also have a proven track record of helping others in your industry. Be sure to ask about people they have helped that were in similar situations to yours and even follow up by speaking to some of their past clients.

On a personal level, it is important that you can relate to your coach. Remember he or she is someone you will have to open up to, so you want them to show the right level of understanding and compassion for your situation.

Your coach should also show signs that he is truly invested in you as an individual and interested in taking you to the next level.

Make a Commitment:

Once you have found a coach that is right for you, it is important to commit to making the suggested changes necessary for you to move forward.

You can meet with your coach and listen to them all you want, but if you don’t actually take their words to heart and follow their suggestions, the experience will be a complete waste of time and money and you’re never going to reach your goals.

Clarify Your Expected Outcome:

When you hire a coach, you should have specific goals that you would like to achieve through your work together.

These goals should be clearly communicated to your coach so you can both get on the same page. While goals, like making more money or being a better leader, are both respectable, they are also vague. Think instead of changing certain behaviors that will make it easier for you to reach your goals. If you are having trouble identifying these behaviors, your coach may be able to help you.

Get Ready for A Challenge:

Even though you are paying your coach for a service, don’t expect to sit back while he or she does all the work.

A good coach will challenge you to do better and it is important for you to rise to these challenges so that you can achieve your goals.

Stick with Your Coach for at Least Six Months:

While many of us might be impatient for a change to occur, if you think changes are going to happen overnight, you are being a bit unrealistic in your expectations.

Remember that many changes start as smaller behavioral changes that gradually make for larger changes that can result in those bigger positive improvements you are looking for.

Six months is a good length of time for you to base your coaching experience on. If you don’t feel like you are moving in the right direction at this juncture, you might want to consider finding a new coach or discussing ways to change the path you’re on.

In Conclusion

Everyone can use a guiding hand in their lives and the right coach can offer that guidance you are looking for.

Be sure to make the most of your experience by finding a coach that suits your needs and by remaining open to his or her ideas and challenges.

When you’re ready to invest in yourself through coaching and would like to explore if we’re a good fit for each other, simply send me an email at contact@simonvetter.com.

Performance Coaching: Top 3 Questions Good Coaches Ask

How do we turn a person’s talent into performance? This question has been of great debate. Many organizations believe that each person’s greatest room for growth is in his or her areas of weakness.

Yet, others support the idea that it is in the areas of his or her greatest strength. The successful leaders find a person’s unique talent – their strengths – first. Then they capitalize on that strength.

The Gallup Poll confirms the concept that applying a person’s strength is positive correlated to his or her actual performance. In a survey with nearly 200,000 people, the following question was asked:

“At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?”

When employees answered “strongly agree” to this question, they were

• 50% more likely to work in a unit with lower employee turnover,
• 38% more likely to work in more productive business units, and
• 44% more likely to work in units with higher customer satisfaction scores.

In other words, when people have an opportunity to do what they do best, they contribute more.
They feel more loyal to the company.
Their performance is higher.
They treat customers better.

So, why are so many professionals and their managers looking in the wrong direction?

Many organizations – and individuals – take strengths for granted and focus on minimizing their weaknesses. The Gallup research shows that only 37% of professionals think that their strengths will help them become most successful, while 63% think that fixing weaknesses will best support their success.

In my own coaching practice, I discuss my client’s accomplishments and their underlying talents and core strengths. In more than half of these discussions, people have a problem defining their own strengths with clarity and conciseness. To help them identify and articulate their strengths, I ask the following three questions:

1. When are you at your best?
2. Which work activity do you love to do and invigorates you most?
3. What is one thing, activity, or skill can you do better than most other people?

Once they clearly describe their strengths, they start communicating those with others and using them more in their role. Consequently, they will perform better.

Remember Confucius’ quote: “Choose a job that you like and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Five Tips to Be More Energetic

Being energetic, productive and working smart in the midst of turbulent times and business pressure is a challenge. We consistently deal with interruptions, distractions, competing priorities, ambitious targets, and unforeseen crises no matter where we are. However, there is a way to manage our time well and wisely in order to:

1. Manage our stress level in a positive way
2. Get more done every day
3. Stay energetic and productive in the long run

The following five insights are based on the best-selling book The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. I met Jim and Tony personally, attended their presentations and workshops, read their book and applied their ideas to my life over the last few years. It has paid dividends.

#1: Learn to Better Manage Your Energy

Many productivity thinkers over the years have focused on the idea of time: there are a limited number of hours in a day. Time, however, goes by, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour – we can’t really manage it.

What we can manage is the energy we bring to those hours. To be an effective and productive person, it’s important to spend those hours wisely according to our energy level.

If we’re low on energy, it doesn’t matter how much time we have available to accomplish a task – we’ll be so exhausted that we’ll not get the expected performance outcome. On the other hand, when we have a ton of energy, we can get many things done in very little time.

The key to effective time management is effective energy management; establish ways to feel energetic – and highly energized – each day.

#2: Use Available Energy Effectively

Energy is expandable; time is not. We only have so much energy to use each day. However, we can expand our capacity for productive effort. As long as we take care of ourselves and pay attention to how much energy we have, we can accomplish surprising amounts of work.

On a calendar, there’s no visible difference between 8 – 9am and 1-2pm.
Physically and energetically, there’s a huge difference. Our body operates in energy cycles in which our energy fluctuates up and down. Like the circadian cycle, which is responsible for our waking/sleeping pattern, there are other cycles as well, which naturally oscillates every 90 minutes between high and low energy. Those cycles are normal, so it is useful to pay attention to them. Every hour and a half or so, your body needs a bit of relaxation and rest. Powering through the dip in energy is actually counterproductive – we are not giving our body the rest it needs to operate at peak performance.

#3: Think Like an Athlete!

be more energetic

When working, think like a sprinter – we can cover a lot of ground in a quick burst, but we can’t keep up that pace all day. With a little rest between bursts, however, we can sprint over and over again.

When we sprint or run fast for hours, we’ll wear ourselves out, and we’ll need a longer period of recovery before we’ll be ready to go again. At the extreme, some people work themselves to the point of exhaustion, at which point their body forces them to recover via injury or illness. We can only push ourselves so much. There are physical limits. Recovery is mandatory, not optional.

Top athletes plan cycles of high performance (training, competition) and relaxation (rest, recover). When an athlete over trains, he runs the risk of reaching a break point, or injury and his performance diminishes.

As “corporate” athletes, we have to think in cycles, too.

#4: Learn Strategic Disengagement

Some people seem to look at human beings like a robot: no breaks during work hours, no lunchtime, no recovery all day every day. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Humans are “energy” beings, and we have physical needs. It’s useful to think of your body as one integrated energetic system, which we use to get things done. If that system breaks or wears down, we won’t accomplish anything.

Just as we regularly fill the gas tank of our vehicle, we have to refill our “energy” tank. We need relaxation, rest, recovery, and rejuvenation. One of the best ways to maintain high level of performance over the year is taking breaks; a concept called strategic disengagement. Based on our individual energy cycles of high performance and relaxation, it is critical to plan and take phases of strategic disengagement to refill the gas tank – before we run out of gas.

#5: Stress Is a Good Thing – If Used Consciously

From a physical and energy standpoint, it is as important to take strategic breaks, as it is critical to exert stress. There is positive stress (eustress) and negative stress (distress) – usually people refer to stress as “distress”. Positive stress is good. If I want to build stronger muscles, putting stress and tension on the muscle will help it grow. Therefore, it is good to plan “stressful” time periods, where we are challenged and forced to push to our capacity. Too often, we do that, but unconsciously until we break down. The critical element is to do it intentionally.

Conscious (positive) stress management is like a form of energy resistance training. Stress becomes a signal our bodies use to generate more energy to meet the demand. As long as we’re getting enough rest and recovery, it pays to exert – even exhaust – ourselves. We get stronger, build resilience and expand capacity for energy.