Having made sure that you are starting off with the right mindset, the next core skill is preparation. It is tempting to imagine that because coaching is based around asking questions and getting the coachee to take responsibility for the issue, preparation is not important. If this is what you believe, think again. Yes, coaching is a mindset, but it is also a set of skills and behaviours.

You could just go with the flow and, of course, coaching over the photocopier does not require preparation. However, here are some questions you might think about addressing before a coaching session.

  • What is the purpose of the coaching session from your perspective?
  • What information do you need?
  • What state do you need to be in to help the coachee?
  • How much time does the coachee need to prepare for the session?
  • What have you learned from previous sessions with the coachee?
  • What pressures, projects or stresses are affecting the coachee?

You should also consider the following.

Diagnose the issue

Coach only if appropriate. Before any coaching session, put time aside to diagnose the issue as far as possible. Be as sure as you can that coaching is the appropriate means of taking the issue forward. Discuss this with the individual and agree that it would be of value to put some time aside to coach around the topic.

Make time for the coaching session

Think about what you are going to be discussing and ensure that you allow enough time to cover it. As a rule, it is easy to underestimate the time required.

Arrange a venue

Ensure that you have the use of an office or somewhere with enough privacy.

Think about the person you are going to coach

How will they be feeling about the coaching session – curious anticipation, a little nervous, looking forward to it? Spend a couple of minutes putting yourself in their shoes. What would be important to them about the environment?

Inform others

Who else needs to know that you are in a coaching session and should not be disturbed?

Be prepared to take notes

It may be a subject that would benefit from notes being taken. Because coaching is about developing and fostering responsibility in the person being coached, this is a decision for them. You may want to ask if it would help for them to take notes and, in some cases, it may be appropriate for you to take notes if they are doing a lot of thinking. That is a matter of personal choice for the coachee and yourself.