In my last article, we began the journey of Process Creation, starting with why having a process matters and then diving into creating your Core Tenets and accompanying Tools & Resources. If you haven’t read it yet or need a refresher, make sure to go back and read it first to get the most out of this article!
Once you have identified your Core Tenets, you have some of the foundational blocks of your process. Now you have to decide where you want to be on the spectrum of coaching, and from there, you can choose which specific structures and processes best serve you and your clients.
Where are You on the Spectrum?
As I mentioned in the last article, most of my clients are not on either end of the spectrum, but rather somewhere in the middle because they find that structure helps their clients move forward effectively and keeps the momentum building. With that said, even if you don’t have a lot of structure, your clients are going to get a heck of a lot more value just by creating Core Tenets with corresponding tools. You want to add structure to the degree that it serves your client and you.
As an example, when I first graduated from The Coaches Training Institute (now Co-Active Training Institute or CTI) nearly twenty years ago, I was so dedicated to Co-Active Coaching that I had very little structure. I had a one-page client Intake Form and a Wheel of Life client pre-work exercise that we reviewed in our Discovery Session, and after that, at the beginning of our calls I would simply ask, “What would you like to talk about today?” As someone who NEVER runs out of coaching topics for myself, I became quickly frustrated when clients showed up saying “I don’t know…” I would often have to dig for 10 minutes for a topic worth diving into. I also found that those topics were often not related to the reason they came to coaching to begin with. I realized that I had lost the thread between our little “a” agenda (the topic we covered in a call) and the big “A” Agenda (the overall result they wanted from coaching). Frankly, it just wasn’t working, and I began to wonder if I was just a lousy coach. The reality is that coaching school doesn’t teach you how to create a great ongoing client experience that helps them achieve their big “A”. Building great client experiences involves getting better at seeding the big “A” into every little “a” coaching discussion, but the majority of coaches that get great results have process and structure to support it.
Here are some examples of tools you can use to aid you in linking your clients’ little “a” agenda and the big “A” Agenda:
- A pre-coaching reflection and update form or questions
- A Mindmap that outlines the client goals, intentions, and challenges
- A Development Plan
- An Action Plan
Discovering where on the spectrum you work best, adapting your work to the needs of the client, and finding tools to support the work will help keep your eye on the prize: moving your clients forward.
Build Strong Bookends
I always say that you want your last call to be as powerful as your first call. Few of my clients designed a formal completion as their last client session, before working with me. But doing so is well worth the time it takes. First of all, it is a beautiful experience for both coach and client. To hear their journey reflected back, with all they have learned and how they’ve grown, is often breathtaking. Even if it wasn’t a great client, every client relationship offers learning to help you become a better coach. What’s more is that sometimes, while conducting the formal completion, you discover that a client really isn’t complete, and they decide to continue with you (when they previously thought they were ready to complete).
You also want to make sure you start strong. Many of my clients have a much longer Intake/Strategy/Discovery/Foundation Coaching Session compared to their other sessions. You want to ask the question “What would create a strong foundation for our work together?” when designing your Intake Process. You also want to ask, “What does my client need to do before our work begins so that we are both prepared to get the most out of our first session?” You also want to think about your ideal client’s capacity when designing your pre-work. I’ve had clients who were mysteriously ghosted by a committed client after sending pre-work that felt too overwhelming to the new client. You may need to do more work within your session if your ideal clients have limited capacity.
Linear, Circular, or Hybrid
Aside from having Strong Bookends, you now want to design the way clients move through your work. There are three primary ways to do that:
- Linear – This is when you have more linear steps to your process, which often happens when some, or most, parts of your work are cumulative. As an example, all my clients must have Ideal Client Clarification before we can work on their Offerings. They need to be clear about their Offerings before they can create their messaging. They have to be clear about their messaging before they can create/update their website. These are all linear steps, although how each of my clients takes these steps varies based on that particular client.
- Circular – Other than having Strong Bookends, circular processes are not sequential. For my clients with circular processes, their Core Tenets become the anchor for their work, but the way they move through the coaching process is organic.
- Hybrid – This is when parts of your process are linear, and parts are circular. As an example, many of my clients, aside from the Strong Bookends, will also have a 360-degree process for their executive coaching clients with multiple steps including interviewing colleagues, creating a Summary of Findings, creating a development plan, and meeting with the client’s boss. Once that is established, their process may be more circular, using the Core Tenets and the Development Plan as the compass for the coaching.
Walking the Process
It’s important to document your coaching process, but putting it to paper can sometimes feel daunting, even after you’ve identified your Core Tenets. One way I help my clients get out of their heads and into their wisdom is to do an exercise called “Walk the Process.” In this exercise, I hold the container and take notes for them, while they physically walk through their process step by step. It is amazing what pours out when a client does this exercise! I’ve had clients who thought they had no sense of what their process was walk away with a 7-step process. Have someone hold space for you so that your internal wisdom can pour out of you.
Tweaking Your Offerings
Once you have identified your Core Tenets and outlined your process, I encourage you to re-look at your offerings and pricing. How long does it take for the average person to go through your process as you outlined it? (That is a good place to start when looking at your package lengths.) Is your client experience now more valuable than it was before? Is that reflected in your offerings and pricing?
Lastly, make sure you put all of this in front of people you consider your ideal clients, and make sure what you’ve created truly resonates with them. At the end of the day, we want to make sure that this process and offer we’ve created, that we are so excited about, is met with equal or greater enthusiasm from our ideal clients!
I hope that these two articles have helped you view your process and client experience through a new lens. I hope it will allow you to make an even more significant contribution to your clients and to create a coaching experience you love supporting. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts! And of course, if you feel like you need support in doing this masterfully, reach out. I’d love to talk.