Making Your Coaching Brilliance Visible to Assessors

As I’m still on a cycling trip, this week’s blog post is from Roy Marriott – one of the Master Certified Coaches on our team, who loves to train and mentor people in SF coaching to ACC, PCC and MCC levels. Here’s what he’s got to say:

When it comes to getting a coaching credential, we’ve all got to submit a recording that demonstrates the quality of our coaching. This post is about ways to make that easier – to coach in ways that helps the assessor to see just how good our coaching is.

But first – what’s the problem? Why do we even need to do that?

Brilliant Coaching can be Invisible!

You see, it’s possible for a coaching session to be utterly brilliant, but the quality of the coaching can be invisible. 

For example, sometimes a coachee just needs to get things off their chest. It’s best for the coach to just listen – but doesn’t tell the assessor very much about your coaching!

I’ve got some painful experience in this area myself: possibly my best-ever coaching session was assessed as not being MCC quality. Why not? “John” had been a client for many years, and the session was full of in-jokes and subtle processes that I’d learnt worked really well with him – but the assessor had no way of understanding. 

That leads to my first tip:

Choose your client

If your client talks at great length, it’ll be hard for you to demonstrate your coaching skills. 

If you know your client too well, the assessor might not be able to “see the workings” of the coaching process.

If your client self-coaches i.e. asks themselves questions, then you don’t get to ask questions! (This is one reason why your fellow coaches might not be the best clients for a recording!)

So – for assessment, choose a client who let’s you ask questions, answers reasonably concisely, and who you don’t know too well.

However, there are some tricks that can help to make what you naturally do well more visible to the assessor:

Give the Assessor “Subtitles”

With John when I was using things I’d learnt in previous sessions, I could have added, “As we were saying last time” or “I remember last time it worked well for you when….”.

That helps “ground” things for the client, and gives the assessor a way to understand what’s going on.

Use Partnering

Partnering involves the client in co-creating the coaching process – which is good for them and helps the assessor know what’s happening. 

For example, to firmly establish the coaching agreement you might ask “Have we explored enough for you to summarise what you want from this session now?” 

Or if the client has mentioned “confidence” a couple of times, you might ask: “It sounds like confidence is really important for you – would you like to explore what that means for you?” 

Partnering in this way keeps everything very clear, which benefits the client and demonstrates your understanding to the assessor.

Keep Exploring 

Towards the end of a session, suppose you ask, “Would you like to summarise what’s emerged for you in this session?” and your client replies, “I’ve learnt that I’m a bit of a procrastinator, and that this is a surprisingly complex task. So, let me see, I think the best thing to do is schedule a meeting with Rhianna to untangle the complexity.” 

Damn! The client just answered your next question! How can you demonstrate “translating awareness into action” now?

Fortunately, there’s a simple answer – keep exploring.

For example, you might respond with “OK, so it sounds like you’re recognising the danger of procrastination, and your plan is to schedule a meeting with Rhianna. Is that enough on action planning, or would you like to explore some more?” 

Or you might choose to “celebrate the client’s progress and learning” before offering to explore further: “I’m impressed by your clarity – I’m hearing learnings about yourself, about the situation and what you’re going to do about it. Which of those would you like to explore now?” 

Is this even worth it?

Thinking about all this, you might be thinking, “Do I have to do all this? If I’m delighting my clients, isn’t that good enough?” I was certainly thinking like that when I was preparing for my MCC!

Well, firstly – you might not need to! The way you naturally coach might be visible enough. I always recommend course participants to record a session of themselves coaching naturally, take it to their first mentor coaching session and start from there. Lots will already be visible, I guarantee it!

If there are gaps, and some aspects of your coaching brilliance aren’t yet visible to assessors, your mentor coach will help you formulate an appetising action plan (your mentor will be a great coach, after all!).

But if it still feels like a bit of a hassle, here are a couple of thoughts I found helpful in my journey:

  • I don’t have to do this – but it does make getting clients a whole lot easier. And getting clients more easily is definitely something I want!
  • I think of it as a flexibility test. Am I such a good coach that I can give my client a great experience and do it in the way that the assessor will appreciate? I don’t always have to coach that way, but it’s a fun challenge
  • My clients have benefitted from me extending my “repertoire.” For example, I was initially quite sceptical about explicitly “coaching the who.” But when I tried it for the first time with John, it connected him with his motivations so deeply that it moved him to tears.

I hope that’s given you some food for thought – ways to make your coaching brilliance visible to the assessors, and ways to think about the need to do so.

If you’d like to talk more about this question or any others you might have about coaching, feel free to come to our free meetup and exchange.