The following are questions we at New Actions are commonly asked about our services, including consulting, coaching, and confidentiality. Click on each question below in order to see its answer. If you would like to learn more, or you are interested in scheduling a session, please feel free to contact us.
- Aside from addressing immediate problems and transitions, what are some of the other benefits of executive and professional coaching?
- What are the steps in a typical consulting engagement?
- What are the steps in a typical coaching engagement?
- How is confidentiality maintained when a client’s organization is sponsoring and/or paying for the coaching?
- How long is a typical coaching engagement?
- How does coaching for service professionals differ from coaching for executives?
- How does coaching differ from consulting?
- How does coaching differ from therapy?
Aside from addressing immediate problems and transitions, what are some of the other benefits of executive and professional coaching?
The benefits of coaching go well beyond gaining insight, developing new skills, and improving performance, satisfaction, and profitability. New Actions clients report that their coach was a partner who helped them:
- Take a fresh look at critical and recurring problems and discover new ways of solving them.
- Not only broaden their repertoire of skills (e.g., leadership, management, communication, decision-making, and conflict resolution), but also learn when and where to best use them.
- See beyond their blind spots and let go of unproductive and unconscious habits.
- Understand clearly how others see them so that they can avoid unintended outcomes.
- Practice important conversations before they are needed.
- Figure out how to plan and run productive meetings.
- Better access creative, intuitive, and innovative thinking.
- Get moving again when stuck or caught on the horns of an intractable dilemma.
- See the long-term and the big picture so they can better anticipate changes in their organizational, economic, or competitive environments.
- Strategize their career moves and develop the necessary skills to get where they want to go.
- Navigate the political environment of their organization by building strategic relationships.
- Examine their personal goals, clarify their priorities, and find better balance in their lives.
New Actions’ WHAT-4℠ approach to management consulting divides the consulting process into four easily-understood phases, each based on answering a different question:
- So What?
- Now What?
- What Next?
Clients can choose from these phases to create a Consulting Package that will best meets their needs. From these phases, clients can choose the Value, Standard, or Full package of consulting services that best meets their needs.
The coaching process at New Actions is always personalized to meet the specific needs of the client and his or her organization. The steps described below form the core of a typical coaching engagement. They can be expanded, omitted or modified to suit particular requirements.
Actual coaching takes place in confidential one-on-one conversations between client and coach. In some engagements, the coach also participates in a client’s meetings and conversations to provide immediate feedback and support.
Creating the Coaching Relationship. Clients (and if applicable their sponsors) meet with the coach to explore their goals and objectives for coaching. They build rapport and jointly decide on the scope, focus, and duration of the coaching.
Gathering Information. Progress in coaching is more focused and accelerated when information is first gleaned from optional assessments and/or interviews with clients’ managers, peers, reports, and other key stakeholders.
Gaining Clarity. Initial coaching conversations usually focus on gaining greater clarity about clients’ goals, priorities, values, strengths and weaknesses. Optional assessments and interviews help shed light on clients’ blind spots and unspoken beliefs. The gaps between how clients see themselves and how others see them are often explored. By the end of this stage of coaching, a client’s key issues, challenges, opportunities and transitions are identified.
Goals & Action Plans. Coach and client then work collaboratively to prioritize client’s goals and create an action plan for a client’s development, including clear and observable measures of progress. Clients begin to make changes that will lead them to higher levels of performance, profitability, and satisfaction. Typically these changes include shifts in the ways they look at things, approach problems, and take action.
Support. Coach and client evaluate the effectiveness and appropriateness of these new behaviors and attitudes. They determine what is working and what is not. They continually reference client’s goals and action plans to not only monitor progress but to also change the direction of the coaching engagement when necessary. By the end of this stage of coaching, clients have had ample opportunity to practice new behaviors and to integrate their learning from coaching.
Follow Up. The goal of New Actions coaching is for clients to not only make changes but to sustain them. The longer and more intensively clients practice new attitudes and behaviors, the more likely they are to continue to do so once a coaching engagement ends. At the end of a coaching engagement, brief interviews and mini-surveys can provide invaluable feedback to client and coach alike.
Even though coaching usually follows the above sequence, it is seldom a strictly linear 1-2-3 process. A client’s difficulties in the Support phase may, for example, compel coach and client to revisit an earlier conversation in the Gaining Clarity phase about the client’s values or priorities.
How is confidentiality maintained when a client’s organization is sponsoring and/or paying for the coaching?
Because effective coaching is built on a foundation of candor and trust, confidentiality between client and coach is an absolute necessity. Problems can arise however when a client’s organization or superior is sponsoring and/or paying for the coaching. It’s essential that this question be addressed at the beginning of the coaching engagement. Many organizations recognize the importance of confidentiality and readily consent to it. Other organizations need periodic feedback from the coach as to the client’s progress and development. In those situations, the coach, sponsor and client agree beforehand that general evaluations may be given without relating specifics from any coaching conversations. The scope and frequency of the feedback is agreed to, as well as whether it will be given with or without the client present.
It is also important to ensure that confidentiality and anonymity are maintained when data is collected from interviews, assessments and surveys. Without confidentiality, participants seldom feel free to express what they’re truly feeling and thinking. Tapes and transcriptions of interviews are never shared with anyone, and comments from interviews and assessments are never attributed to a specific participant.
Individual coaching sessions last between one-half and one hour, and may be scheduled on a weekly, semi-monthly or monthly basis.
The specific goals and context of each coaching engagement determine how long coaching will continue. The nature of the issues addressed, the client’s availability, and the frequency and duration of individual coaching sessions all enter into consideration when determining the length of a coaching engagement.
Coaching engagements typically last a minimum of eight to twelve sessions and are sometimes extended for a year or more. In determining the length of a coaching engagement, it’s important to recognize that few changes occur immediately. Coaching provides an opportunity for a client to learn and practice new ways of seeing, understanding, and acting. Longer term coaching provides valuable reinforcement so that changes can be maintained well after the coaching engagement ends.
Although the coaching process for professionals and executives is the same, the emphasis and objectives of their coaching sometimes differ. The unique challenges and responsibilities of working in service firms sometimes leads professionals to focus on issues of personal marketing and client relationships, while executives tend to focus more on issues of leadership and team development.
Though these differences exist, both executives and professionals use coaching to improve their performance, productivity, and effectiveness, as well as their leadership, management, communication, and relationship skills. Both also use coaching for assistance with career transitions, quality of life concerns, and organization wide issues.
Coaching and consulting are complementary ways of helping clients solve problems and improve their performance, profitability and satisfaction. It’s useful to think of coaching and consulting as being two ends of a spectrum of client services. At one end of the spectrum you have consulting, which is directive and prescriptive. Consultants provide information, advice, and solutions to specific problems.
Most consultants have expertise in a single field, industry, or technology (e.g., IT, marketing, environmental compliance, etc.) At New Actions our consulting expertise is not limited to a single industry or profession, but instead centers on leadership, management, organizational change, strategic planning, team development, succession planning, interpersonal dynamics, and conflict competence.
At the other end of the spectrum of professional services you have coaching, which is facilitative and collaborative. Even though coaches are experts in how people set goals and make changes, they don’t tell clients what they should do and what changes they should make. Coaching instead supports clients as they utilize their own knowledge, skill, and resources to first determine what changes are most appropriate, and then make and sustain those changes.
If it seems like these ways of helping clients overlap – they do! In actual practice it is often beneficial to use both to get the best results for a client. At New Actions, we move skillfully along the spectrum as our clients’ needs and situations require.
At first glance, coaching and therapy may appear similar. Both take the form of on-going, one-on-one conversations that focus on a client’s behavior and attitudes. Coaching executives and professionals is, however, far different than therapy focused on work issues.
Therapy deals with emotional pain, dysfunction, and disorders. It helps individuals achieve self-understanding and emotional healing. Past events and feelings help the therapist and patient understand the roots of current problems, which in turn can improve an individual’s emotional functioning in the present. Often these improvements include dealing with work circumstances in more emotionally healthy ways. As the word “patient” suggests, therapy is based on a medical model that assumes that the individual needs healing.
Coaching by contrast assumes that the individual is whole and well. In coaching, the focus is not on healing, but rather on helping the client move to higher levels of functioning and satisfaction. Emphasis is placed on future rather than past actions, as well as the setting and attainment of specific goals. Coach and client work collaboratively to overcome barriers, learn new skills, and implement better decisions. The emphasis in coaching is on action, accountability and follow-through. Coaching can be a valuable complement to therapy, but should not be used as a substitute for it.