Coaching Case Study By Grace Hua Pan
(Career Coach, CHINA)
Who are the main players in this case study
My coachee, L, is herself a trained career coach, who has practiced career coaching for one year and aspires to help her clients achieve better career and life.
Her situation: she coached a client sponsored by government program for four times, who had little acceptance for her coaching and was unwilling to change her status-quo. L was deeply compassionate with her client situation.
Complication: she consulted another experienced coach, who advised her to give up the client. She was upset by this advice.
Her Question: What she wanted to do with her client and how to do it?
What is the core problem or challenge you applied your coaching skills to?
- Why is it a problem?
- How long has it been a problem?
- What is the worst thing about this problem?
- Why has no one been able to solve it so far?
In this case, the key was to have my coachee understand what really motivated her and reflect on more possibilities. Specifically, she realized that her not-wanting-to-give-up comes from her desire to conquer a tough client. She even admitted that she put her desire above her client in this case. I noticed that L’s voice was elevated with energy and a sense of joyfulness when she declared what she came to aware.
Our conversation didn’t trigger L’s further reflection on other possibilities about her findings or options.
L may have missed opportunities to come out with alternatives and make a better informed decision.
There are two possible reasons for this situation. 1) L’s underlying belief might be that it was Ok to put her interest above her client. 2) She didn’t understand why her client would reject her help, namely think from her client’s shoes.
What specific coaching skills or approach did you use in this case?
Iused 1)“Acknowledgement” and 2)“Powerful Questions”.
Explain your process in detail
- I first fully recognized her compassion that drove her strong will to help her client, which made the client feel less stressed.
- When it came to the part that she realized about her real motive and seemed satisfied about her finding, I deliberately repeated her words and asked “how does it sound to her”. My intent was to create a sounding board, and see if she would feel anything different when hearing from a third person perspective. Yet, the client responded my question by confirming that it was right.
What were the results of your process? Was your coaching/program effective? Why? Why not?
The client was aware of her underlying motives and needs.
As a result, L decided to have another conversation with her client, and directed her attention towards how to make another attempt with different techniques. L said that she was happy about the coaching result.
Yet my observation was that the process didn’t manager to trigger L’s reflection on other possibilities or even think in the shoes of her client. The coaching was only partially effective.
If you could approach this problem again, what would you do differently?
If I could approach the problem again, I would have adopted “Visualization” and “Powerful Questions” more directly to invite L to consider from different perspectives.
- Iwould invite L to give me a picture about the talk between her and her client, with details about facial expression, body language of her client. Also Icould ask her to view herself from a 3rd party perspective and share with me her observation about her facial expression and body language.
- Then I would invite her to role play, by having her play the role of her client while me playing her role.
- Following her role play, I would ask what L thinks of her client’s needs, and what needs to be done in the best interest of her client.
What are the top 3 things you learnt from this experience?
I have accumulated about 40 coaching hours with my peer coaches, but this one particular challenge stick to my mind for a long time. I even had one coaching session on this topic to help myself reflect. Below are three important takeaways.
- Stop self-doubting on being judgemental or leading, and be receptive to my coaching intuition so long I am being with my client
- Be more decisive to engage direct or forceful skills to help my client look into other possibilities
- When deciding whether to challenge a client, I should consider what is in the client’s best interest in the big picture and for longer period. Don’t be bounded by client’s findings in one single session.