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    6 Must Dos when Onboarding a New Coaching Client

    Onboarding a new coaching client is often referred to as contracting by coaches. This consists of two elements, firstly the commercial agreement and secondly the psychological contract. This article will focus on the latter and should be a key discussion element prior to engaging in the actual coaching. Of importance, is that this is also not a once only exercise. As a coach, we should always be looking for an opportunity to contract as it is only by a clear agreement of the coaching relationship boundaries and objectives can we focus on what the client really needs.

    Onboarding a coachee, or coaching client, involves a number of steps and considerations to ensure that the coaching process is effective and successful. Here are some key things you should keep in mind when onboarding a coachee:

    Establish trust and rapport

    Building trust and rapport with the coachee is essential for the success of the coaching relationship. This involves creating a safe and supportive space where the coachee feels comfortable opening up and sharing their thoughts and feelings.

    To establish trust and rapport with someone, it is important to communicate openly and honestly, listen actively and empathetically, and be reliable and consistent in your words and actions. Building trust also involves being respectful and considerate of the other person’s feelings, boundaries, and needs, and showing that you have their best interests at heart. Here are a few steps you can take to establish trust and rapport with someone:

    1. Be genuine and authentic in your interactions. Be yourself and let the other person see who you really are. Avoid being overly guarded or defensive, as this can make it difficult for the other person to trust you.
    2. Show that you are interested in the other person and what they have to say. Ask open-ended questions and listen actively to their answers. Try to understand their perspective and feelings, even if you don’t agree with them.
    3. Be consistent in your words and actions. If you say you are going to do something, follow through on your promises. Avoid making empty promises or saying one thing and doing another, as this can damage trust.
    4. Be respectful and considerate of the other person’s boundaries and needs. Ask for their consent before doing anything that might impact them, and respect their decisions even if you don’t agree with them.
    5. Show that you are trustworthy and dependable. Be reliable and consistent in your actions and behaviors, and follow through on your commitments. This will help the other person see that they can trust you.
    6. Communicate openly and honestly. Be transparent and straightforward in your communication, and avoid hiding important information or being deceptive. This will help the other person see that you are sincere and trustworthy.
    7. Be open to feedback and willing to make changes. If the other person tells you something you did or said that made them feel uncomfortable or unsure, listen to their concerns and be open to making changes in your behavior. This will show that you value their feelings and are willing to work on improving your relationship.

    Agree on your definition of what confidential is

    This is an essential and non negotiable aspect of onboarding a new coaching client. It is likely that as part of your coaching relationship, you will discuss personally sensitive and potentially confidential information. As a suggestion, you should always give yourself the opportunity to take this information out of the relationship should you hear something that breaches your duty of care as a coach, of damage to the client or others, or is an illegal activity.

    To agree on a definition of what confidential is, you and the other person should discuss your expectations and boundaries regarding the sharing of sensitive information. It is important to establish clear guidelines for what can and cannot be shared with others, and to ensure that both parties are on the same page. Here are a few steps you can take to agree on a definition of what confidential is:

    1. Discuss the purpose of keeping information confidential. Why do you want to keep certain information private? What is at stake if the information is shared with others? Understanding the reasons for keeping information confidential can help you and the other person agree on a definition.
    2. Identify the types of information that you consider to be confidential. This might include personal or sensitive information, business secrets, or privileged information. Make a list of the types of information that you want to keep private, and share it with the other person.
    3. Establish clear guidelines for when and how confidential information can be shared. For example, you might agree that confidential information can only be shared with others if they have a legitimate need to know, or if they have signed a confidentiality agreement. Make sure that both parties understand and agree to the guidelines.
    4. Discuss the potential consequences of sharing confidential information without permission. What could happen if confidential information is shared without permission? What steps will be taken if someone violates the confidentiality agreement? Understanding the potential consequences can help you and the other person take the agreement seriously.
    5. Set a timeline for reviewing and updating the confidentiality agreement. It is important to review the agreement periodically to ensure that it still meets the needs and expectations of both parties. Set a date for reviewing and updating the agreement, and make sure that both parties are aware of the timeline.
    6. Put the agreement in writing and have both parties sign it. A written agreement provides a clear and tangible record of the terms and conditions of the confidentiality agreement. It also serves as a reminder of the commitment that both parties have made to keeping information confidential. Having both parties sign the agreement can help ensure that it is taken seriously and honored.

    Understand the coachee’s goals and motivations

    It is important to understand the coachee’s goals and motivations for seeking coaching. This will help you tailor the coaching process to their specific needs and ensure that the coaching is focused and effective.

    To understand the coachee’s goals and motivations, it is important to communicate openly and actively listen to what they have to say. As a coach, it is your role to help the coachee clarify their goals and understand what drives and motivates them. Here are a few steps you can take to understand the coachee’s goals and motivations:

    1. Ask open-ended questions and listen actively to the coachee’s responses. Avoid interrupting or imposing your own ideas and assumptions. Instead, give the coachee space to express themselves and share their thoughts and feelings.
    2. Reflect back on what the coachee has said and ask clarifying questions. This will help you understand their perspective and get a better sense of their goals and motivations. For example, you might say something like “It sounds like your goal is to X. Can you tell me more about why that is important to you?”
    3. Help the coachee explore their values and beliefs. Understanding the coachee’s values and beliefs can provide insight into their goals and motivations. Ask questions that help the coachee reflect on what is important to them and what drives their behavior.
    4. Encourage the coachee to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. They can help the coachee focus on what they want to achieve and provide a clear roadmap for how to get there.
    5. Support the coachee in identifying and overcoming obstacles that may be preventing them from achieving their goals. This might involve helping them develop new skills or strategies, providing resources or connections, or offering encouragement and accountability.
    6. Check in regularly with the coachee to see how they are progressing towards their goals and to make any necessary adjustments to their plan. Regular check-ins can help ensure that the coachee is on track and that they have the support and guidance they need to achieve their goals.

    Identify areas for improvement

    Once you have a good understanding of the coachee’s goals and motivations, you can begin to identify areas for improvement and focus your coaching efforts. This may involve working with the coachee to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals.

    To identify areas for improvement, it is important to assess your current situation and compare it to your goals or desired outcomes. This can involve looking at various aspects of your life, such as your personal or professional relationships, your health and wellbeing, or your skills and abilities. Here are a few steps you can take to identify areas for improvement:

    1. Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. SMART goals can help you focus on what you want to achieve and provide a clear roadmap for how to get there. They can also serve as a benchmark for measuring your progress and identifying areas for improvement.
    2. Assess your current situation and compare it to your goals. This can involve looking at various aspects of your life, such as your relationships, your health and wellbeing, or your skills and abilities. Ask yourself questions like: “What is working well? What could be improved? What is holding me back?”
    3. Seek feedback from others. Ask friends, family, colleagues, or mentors for their perspective on your strengths and areas for improvement. Their input can provide valuable insights and help you identify areas that you may not have considered on your own.
    4. Reflect on your past experiences and successes. What have you learned from your past experiences? What have you achieved in the past that you are proud of? Reflecting on your past experiences and successes can help you identify your strengths and areas for improvement.
    5. Identify specific actions or steps you can take to improve in the areas you have identified. For example, if you want to improve your communication skills, you might set a goal to attend a public speaking course or practice speaking in front of others.
    6. Create a plan and set a timeline for implementing the actions you have identified. A plan can help you stay organized and focused, and a timeline can help you track your progress and make any necessary adjustments. Regularly review and update your plan to ensure that it is still relevant and aligned with your goals.

    Develop a coaching plan

    Based on the coachee’s goals and areas for improvement, you can develop a coaching plan to guide the coaching process. This may involve setting specific objectives and milestones, and creating a timeline for achieving them.

    To develop a coaching plan, you will need to determine the goals and objectives of the coaching, assess the coachee’s needs and capabilities, and identify the specific actions and strategies that will be used to help the coachee achieve their goals. A coaching plan should be tailored to the individual coachee and should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that it remains relevant and effective. Here are a few steps you can take to develop a coaching plan:

    1. Determine the goals and objectives of the coaching. What does the coachee want to achieve through coaching? What are their specific goals and objectives? Understanding the coachee’s goals and objectives will help you develop a plan that is tailored to their needs.
    2. Assess the coachee’s needs and capabilities. What are the coachee’s strengths and weaknesses? What challenges or obstacles are they facing? What resources or support do they have available to them? Understanding the coachee’s needs and capabilities will help you develop a plan that is realistic and achievable.
    3. Identify specific actions and strategies for helping the coachee achieve their goals. These might include setting SMART goals, developing new skills or strategies, providing resources or connections, or offering encouragement and accountability. Make sure that the actions and strategies are aligned with the coachee’s goals and objectives, and that they are realistic and achievable.
    4. Create a timeline for implementing the coaching plan. A timeline can help you track your progress and make any necessary adjustments to the plan. It can also help the coachee stay on track and stay motivated.
    5. Regularly review and update the coaching plan. The coaching plan should be a living document that is regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that it remains relevant and effective. Check in with the coachee regularly to see how they are progressing towards their goals and make any necessary adjustments to the plan.
    6. Communicate the coaching plan to the coachee. Make sure that the coachee understands the goals and objectives of the coaching, and that they are aware of the specific actions and strategies that will be used to help them achieve their goals. This will help ensure that the coachee is fully engaged and committed to the coaching process.

    Monitor progress and provide feedback

    As the coaching progresses, it is important to monitor the coachee’s progress and provide regular feedback. This will help the coachee stay on track and make any necessary adjustments to their approach.

    To monitor progress and provide feedback, it is important to regularly assess the coachee’s progress towards their goals, provide constructive feedback on their performance and behavior, and support them in making any necessary adjustments to their plan. As a coach, it is your role to help the coachee stay on track and make progress towards their goals. Here are a few steps you can take to monitor progress and provide feedback:

    1. Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. SMART goals provide a clear benchmark for measuring the coachee’s progress and identifying areas for improvement.
    2. Regularly assess the coachee’s progress towards their goals. This might involve reviewing their performance, observing their behavior, or checking in with them to see how they are doing. Make sure that the assessment methods are aligned with the coachee’s goals and objectives, and that they are objective and unbiased.
    3. Provide regular feedback to the coachee on their progress. Feedback should be constructive and supportive, and should focus on the coachee’s behavior and performance, rather than their personality or character. Avoid using judgmental or critical language, and instead focus on specific actions or behaviors that the coachee can improve upon.
    4. Support the coachee in making any necessary adjustments to their plan. If the coachee is not making progress towards their goals, or if they are facing challenges or obstacles, help them identify specific actions or strategies that they can take to overcome these challenges and stay on track.
    5. Encourage the coachee to reflect on their progress and provide feedback to you. Encourage the coachee to share their thoughts and feelings about their progress, and ask for their feedback on your coaching. This can help you understand their perspective and make any necessary adjustments to your coaching approach.
    6. Celebrate the coachee’s achievements and progress. Recognize and celebrate the coachee’s achievements, no matter how small they may seem. This can help boost their confidence and motivation, and can help maintain their engagement and commitment to the coaching process.

    Overall, onboarding a new coaching client involves building trust and rapport, agreeing confidentialities, understanding their goals and motivations, identifying areas for improvement, developing a coaching plan, and monitoring progress and providing feedback. This will help ensure that the coaching process is effective and successful.