15 Ways for Coachees to Get the Most From Coaching Sessions

The nature of coaching is that it is a two-way process involving coach and client as equals; the more active a part you take in the process the better the outcomes are likely to be for you. Here are 15 practical ideas and suggestions to help you get the most from your coaching.

1. Remember it’s not the coach’s responsibility to solve your problems or achieve your goals for you 

The coach is there to support, challenge, listen, stimulate, encourage, share feedback and offer anything else they have in their tool kit to help you think better and plan well to make the changes that are important to you. Ultimately you are the one that has responsibility for your own work and life. This is why we encourage a model of active, adult-adult partnership in coaching rather than anything that suggests you are dependent on your coach.

2. It’s up to you to ask your coach to change the way they are coaching you if you feel they could coach you in a better way

Coaches are of course only human, and as such have their own distinct personalities: yet a good coach will be able to flex their style in many ways to suit you, e.g. by being more or less direct/challenging, by moving at a faster/slower pace or by sharing more or less of their thinking and ideas with you. They will be happy for you to make such requests because their aim is to coach as effectively as possible.

3. The coach’s job is to ask you for even more than you might normally ask of yourself

Your coach wants the best for you and for this reason will be looking to offer and encourage ‘stretch’ wherever possible. Your coach may well question the limits you set for yourself and encourage the setting of challenging goals and targets. Coaching should not be a ‘cosy club.’

4. The coach is your success partner, not an accountability service

Coaching will work best for you when you are actively seeking to get the best from yourself and when you take responsibility for your own growth and development.

5. The value of coaching isn’t based on how much time is spent coaching

The value of coaching depends on quality rather than quantity: when both you and your coach are fully engaged in the task and working hard then success should follow – it is a bit like going to the gym and really working at it, rather than thinking you will get results just by being there.

6. The coaching session in itself is not what gets you results

Ultimately this is down to what you do and how you act after the coaching – what you put into practice. Coaching is there to help you to plan and prepare to get the best out of what you are doing.

7. Talk about what matters most to you

You are not there to conform to any expectation you feel your coach may have on you – least of all are you there to please the coach in any way. Yours is the only agenda that counts and if it is important to you, your coach will work on it with you.

8. Focus on yourself

Sometimes clients worry that coaching is somewhat self-indulgent – even a selfish luxury. We offer the view that you can only effectively do your job or serve others well if you are yourself fulfilled, purposeful and operating to your fullest potential. When you succeed, others should benefit too: if you are unhappy, unfulfilled or frustrated in your work or blocked in some other way it is likely that others will not get the best from you. You can look at your coaching as a positive boost to the communities of which you are a part.

9. Be open to seeing things differently

Very frequently, the issues you face are not in themselves the real issues! Often it is the way we see issues and how we think about them that needs to change. Even when some of the issues we face are objectively daunting or difficult challenges, we can use coaching to open ourselves up to new ways of responding to them. Opening your thinking up will open up new possibilities for choice. Your coach can help you identify ways of seeing, thinking and responding that may offer you very different options and approaches.

10. You can develop and evolve with coaching

Coaching is both a developmental process and an evolutionary one. It helps clients accomplish more with less effort – the developmental aspect – and can also lead to different thinking and possibilities for growth and change – which we call evolving. Evolving is a skill worth building because life itself is about evolving, not just developing.

11. Use your coaching to help you think about – and design – the kinds of environments and systems you want to work in – you can go beyond yourself

We can all exercise some choice and responsibility in creating the kind of environment to allow ourselves to flourish. Even when your organisation places apparent restrictions in your way we can often exercise at least some discretion in the physical, social, professional and cultural contexts in which we work and live. Coaching encourages a whole-system approach and links personal change to the contexts we inhabit.

12. Take charge

You are invited to take charge of the coaching process, to get it focused on what you most want and need. We encourage you to come to each session with a direction in mind, perhaps a list of issues or questions you want to address. Ultimately the more you know what you want out of your coaching the better. Your coach can then work with you to craft really specific and relevant goals for the coaching.

13. Be Real – say what you think

When what we say does not reflect what we are really thinking, we are incongruent. Coaching is not an abstract exercise or an intellectual joust but an opportunity to work together with your coach in a climate of shared honesty and truth. When you are authentic it really helps to get the best out of your coach.

14. Promise what you can deliver

Whilst we encourage stretch and boldness in coaching we also ask you to be mindful of what is realist and doable in the context of everything you are trying to do. Overextension causes great anxiety, guilt and suffering. We encourage you to remain mindful of what you are realistically able to take on as a result of your coaching.

15. Share what you are doing with your coaching

People close to you will see and feel the effect your coaching is having, either directly or indirectly. For some people this will create questions and even anxieties about the changes you are making. We would suggest that where possible you are open to others about what you are trying to do via your coaching. This will have the double benefit of including them and reaffirming your commitment to developing as a person and a leader.

Tips For Successfully Managing Online Customer Reviews

Customer opinions have always had the potential to influence other people’s attitudes towards a business. In the past, these opinions were communicated mostly by word of mouth. But the internet has given customer opinions mass exposure. 

Track Reviews: To manage online reviews of your business, you need to know when and where they appear. Luckily, free services exist that will track and report them for you.

Many review sites (e.g. Yelp, Product Review, TripAdvisor) can send a notification each time you’re reviewed, provided you ‘join’ the site. If you want to search more broadly, Google Alerts [http://www.google.com/alerts] will report mentions of your business (or any other term that you request) in web pages, blogs, videos and discussions. Twitter Search [https://twitter.com/searchhome] allows you to search Twitter for any term.

You can also pay for more sophisticated ‘reputation monitoring’. If you’re interested in doing this, seek the advice of a social media consultant.

Claim Or Create Your Business Page: Sites such as Yelp, Zomato and Google Places use publicly available data (e.g. from the telephone directory) to generate a page for your business. Some sites do this only when you’re reviewed, but others do it automatically to provide complete search listings for users.

Claiming your page is free, and you then have control over what it contains. Or, if a page hasn’t been created, you can create one yourself. To claim or create a page, visit the site concerned and look for a button or link that says something like ‘For business’, ‘Claim your page’ or ‘Unlock your page’.

Claiming your page may improve your listing in search rankings, and will often give you access to special services provided by the review site (e.g. tools to track and analyse reviews, and the option of communicating privately with reviewers).

Decide Who Handles Reviews: Each business must decide who will monitor and respond to customer reviews. Many sites allow only one management response per review, and you also want to control the quality of your responses (e.g. you don’t want a junior waiter insulting a customer who has complained about the waiter’s serving skills!)

The staff member who handles online reviews needs to have:

  • a strong customer service attitude
  • a friendly writing style
  • the authority to resolve complaints
  • good judgement about when to refer a review to more senior staff.

Respond To Positive Reviews: Most marketers suggest responding to positive reviews so customers know that you appreciate their compliments. Some recommend sending a private message that only the customer will see, while others suggest responding publicly (if you’re responding to ‘reviews’ on forums such as Facebook and Twitter, you may have no choice but to respond publicly). You may also have to decide if you answer every positive review or just the ones that stand out.

Most experts say not to offer tangible rewards (e.g. gift vouchers) to reviewers, because this can be construed as a bribe for future positive comments. Nor should you annoy reviewers by targeting them with advertising or asking them to join your mailing list. It’s best to simply introduce yourself and say thank you. 

If some other aspect of your business might be of particular interest to them, it’s probably fine to mention that too (e.g. if a customer praises a particular brand of stereo, you could let them know that you’ll be expanding that range next month). Use your judgement on a case-by-case basis.

Follow Each Sites’ Rules: Most review sites stipulate that reviews and responses must not contain personal attacks, profanity, breaches of privacy, advertising, or criticisms of the site itself (e.g. you can’t say that a site is unfair, even if you believe it is). Other sites (e.g. TripAdvisor) go further and say that all material must be ‘family-friendly’.

Whichever site you want to join, read their rules carefully. There’s no point writing a response that breaks the site’s rules because it won’t be published anyway. In the case of personal blogs, there may be no official rules, but it’s best to follow the rules that the bigger sites use even if the blogger themself appears not to.

Don’t Post Fake Reviews: It’s unethical and a breach of site rules to post positive reviews about your own business or negative reviews about your competitors. This applies to business owners but also to staff and to any family or friends who are not genuine customers. Posting fake reviews may also be illegal. In some countries, business owners are using lawyers to challenge what they believe are false and defamatory negative reviews. Larger review sites filter any reviews that they believe are false.

Encourage Positive Reviews: One of the best ways to get online reviews working for you is to encourage happy customers to post positive reviews. But take care how you do this so that it doesn’t backfire.

Do:

  • display the logos of the review sites in your store and on your website
  • provide comment cards in store that include the logos and web addresses of review sites (customers can either drop the card in your suggestion box, or take it away and post their comment on line)
  • embed a ‘Review us now’ button on your website that takes customers to the review site
  • regularly give customers new reasons to review your business (e.g. introduce new offers, products and incentives)
  • consider asking especially satisfied customers to post a review (e.g. the customer who sent
  • you a postcard saying that your whitewater rafting trip was the highlight of their holiday)
  • aim to add a few new reviews each month.

Don’t:

  • send an email to your entire customer list asking them to post a positive review a wave of positive reviews posted simultaneously will either be filtered out as fake or regraded with great suspicion by readers
  • offer incentives to ‘bribe’ customers to review you their reviews are likely to sound forced and to be filtered out or ignored by readers. Plus you won’t really learn what your customers think.