3 traps in coaching chemistry calls

In one of our coaching meetup and exchange sessions, one of our friends mentioned an awkward situation in a “chemistry” call: the potential client seemed to have not been made aware of the fact that she has a few things to work on. There simply wasn’t anything that the potential client wanted — so our coach friend did not think it would be useful to enter into a coaching relationship with her and both agreed that a coaching would not make sense. Later, our coach friend learned that HR and the client’s superior had a lot of things that they thought the potential client could get better at …. o, well! That could have gone better, right? Of course, our coach friend had simply assumed that the potential client would have been told about what needs to change prior to inviting her to a chemistry call — and I would probably had assumed the same. So thank you anonymous friend, for highlighting this!

This story showed me a couple of things that can go wrong in the preparation of chemistry calls — from the side of the coach and from the side of the sponsor. Here’s what we might take care of:

Don’t be the messenger of the problem and the coach for the solution at the same time

When talking to a sponsor (HR or superior) about a potential client, it is probably a good idea to ask what the potential client already knows about the goals of the coaching. Have they been told what the coaching is for? How did they respond? How aware are they that there is something they might improve? If not, ask how the potential client could be made aware of the issues — and make sure that it is not you who is the messenger!

Make sure to agree on the level of confidentiality of the chemistry call

Coaching conversations are confidential — chemistry calls, too? I don’t know. I think it is in the interest of all parties that everyone can inform each other about the chemistry call, how it went and what the outcome is. It really puts the coach in a bad position if they cannot tell their sponsor about the fact that it was not a fit, or that the client did not think that there was anything to work on so they both decided not to proceed. Also the sponsor needs this information to be able to help the potential client best. Last but not least, the potential client also does not profit from secrecy around keeping the chemistry call confidential: they cannot explore what they need instead if what did not work is not known.

I am not saying that the chemistry call should be 100% transparent — that would not work either. However, I think it is good practice to align with the sponsor and the client around what should be made known about the chemistry call and what should remain confidential.

Work with the concept of “fit” rather than “good or better coach”

Assume that a chemistry call is about finding out whether you and the potential client can work together well. If not, this does not mean you are a bad coach — it just means that there wasn’t a fit. Also, I think it is good practice to reserve the right to say “no” to a coaching relationship. Even if the client would like to work with you and you have a bad feeling or you don’t think that the client would be someone you would like to support, you can say “I don’t think this topic is a good fit for me” without ruffling any feathers.

Do come to one of our free meetup and exchanges to discuss topics like these and to learn more about our classes: