5 Tips to Get the Most from a Coaching Relationship

5 Tips to Get the Most from a Coaching Relationship, by Ryan Hansen

This week, Jamie and I had the chance to spend a day with one of our mentors in this industry. It was a blessing to spend this focused time with such a valuable resource, and as the hours flew by we lobbed question after question at him to take full advantage of the opportunity. We came prepared - in fact, we had already spent a few hours meticulously crafting a list of questions to make sure we wouldn't waste a moment. The next day, a thought crossed my mind. "What if I put the same effort and preparation into maximizing all of my coaching relationships?"

If you haven't already read Jamie's piece on the benefits of a coach, make sure to check it out right here. If you've read the piece, you are long past the misconception that professional coaching is some sort of punishment or a "finishing school" for underwhelming employees. For the growth-oriented leader, coaching is a means to accelerate growth and elevate outcomes. A great coach is a source of perspective and can steer you to resources that develop your natural talents.

But once you have a coach, how do you make sure the relationship is a successful one? Here are six tips to maximize your coaching experience:

  1. Find the Right Fit
    Just as none of us is a perfect match with every single human we meet, neither are we a perfect fit for every coach. You may want to find a coach that comes from outside your network, in order to ensure a neutral observer. Similarly, it may benefit you to hire a coach with a different set of skills and experiences from yours in order to get a more well-rounded point of view. Remember: a coach's skill is not determined by their experience in your field. Don't shy away from a younger coach based on age alone.

  2. Invest Your Time & Energy
    The coaching formula is simple: you will get out what you put in. You must take charge and responsibility for the success of your coaching relationship. Respect your coach's time (and your own) by coming to each session prepared. Consider the questions you want to ask and identify the outcomes you wish to achieve. These results may not be immediate, though, so expect several conversations to create momentum and build toward sustainable success.

  3. Set Communication Expectations from the Beginning
    Start off by determining how frequently you and your coach will meet, as well as the means and frequency of your communication. Do you want a hands-on, text-message-a-day coach, or do you prefer periodic phone calls to share wins between sessions? Maybe it's somewhere in the middle. You and your coach will appreciate knowing how and how often you should be in touch, and you can always adjust the plan as you progress.

  4. Be Honest with Your Coach, and with Yourself
    Just like a mentor, a coach can only provide perspective on the information you share with them. They will rely on you to accurately portray the details of your life and your work. If you have a particular strength or weakness, be sure to emphasize it for your coach - they may have a tip for overcoming a specific challenge or a strategy for capitalizing on a strength. By the same token, if you are absolutely certain that you cannot (or will not) implement a suggestion from your coach, be transparent and say so. A more appealing alternative may be available.

  5. Beware of "Accidental Mentors"
    Straying from the vein of coaching for a moment, I want to open your eyes to another key factor for personal growth. Have you ever heard the phrase "Show me your friends and I'll show you your future?" Maybe you're more familiar with John Maxwell's Law of Inner Circle: "A leader's potential is determined by those closest to him." Keep this principle in mind as you determine whom you spend time with, especially at work. Too much time with negative people can slow you down. Seek the positive-minded, growth-oriented individuals around you, and watch as you feed on their energy and passion for development.


 If you are fortunate enough to have a mentor or coach in your life - no matter if it's formally or informally - I hope these tips help you to maximize your growth and pursue your goals. If you want a coach but have not found the right fit for you, our Solutions Team would love to speak to you about your goals and how our resources may help you achieve them. Send us an email today at [email protected] or call us directly at 402-779-5846.


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