Where Do You Start Your Coaching Sessions?

Sunday, 1st June, 2014

Asphalt Road With White Start SignAs a coach – how do you start your coaching sessions?

If it’s a very 1st session, you may start by setting expectations, clarifying what coaching is, identifying session frequency, signing a coaching agreement, and agreeing the coaching focus area(s).

But when you’ve done all of that, what’s the first thing you say to get the session off to a good start?

If you’re following a coaching model such as GROW, you might start with questions around the ‘G’ (Goal area). For example:

– What would give you the best outcome for today’s session?

– What impact would this have on your performance at work?

– How does this support your overall goal achievement?

Or if you’re using the OSCAR model, you might start with questions to identify the coachee’s desired outcome (the ‘O’); such as:

– What is your long-term outcome?

– What would success look like?

– What would you like to achieve from this session?

Coaching questioning models are all fairly similar, and I believe they are there as a guide.

I tend to coach more instinctively now, and don’t tend to favour a particular model, although may draw on different ones from time to time depending on what’s most appropriate.

I still need to start the process off, and for a 1st session I’ll tend to use questions similar to the ones above, then to begin subsequent sessions I might start with something like …

So, (person’s name), what have you brought to the session today?

(Name), what would you like to work on today?

If we have a really great session today, what would happen in it?

A few thoughts …

  • The questions that start a session may be dependent on how familiar the coachee is with coaching. You can be more ‘artfully vague’ with context-free questions when the coachee has been coached before.
  • I’ve sometimes found it more useful to jump straight in with questions around the coachee’s current situation, the ‘S’ of OSCAR (the ‘R’ or Reality of GROW), because the coachee may not know what their goal is, (or what it could be), and they need time to get clarity on the issue before deciding where to go with it.
  • Sometimes it’s good to use a stimulus to get the ball rolling, and get the coachee focusing in on something relevant. So I may use a tool like an adapted version of the Wheel of Life (as this ‘Job Performance Wheel’ shows below).

S2_Job Perf_Blog

If you’re not familiar with this tool for coaching, drop me a line in the comments box below, and I’ll give you some tips on using it.

As a coach – Do you have a favourite way of starting your coaching sessions off?

As a coachee – How would you like your coach to start your coaching sessions?


debbie019 fThank you for taking time to read this blog.

I’m Debbie Inglis, a performance coach, mentor and trainer, working with Heads, Principals, School leaders and their teams to maximise leadership performance, create more effective, confident, and motivated teams … in a way that brings out the best in you.

If you’re interested in my services, please get in touch, and you can read more here.