Coaching techniques, methods, and tools, if used the right way, can change the direction of clients’ lives and help them achieve continuous personal development, self-improvement, prosperity, and sustainable success.
Effective coaching goes beyond the ability to ask the right questions in the proper order. Great coaches are experts in guiding their clients through the process of change. They enhance and enable their clients to reach their full potential, overcome roadblocks and help them to accomplish sustainable success.
What are the essentials of effective coaching?
Effective coaching goes beyond asking questions or using various techniques, tools, and methods. It involves actively listening and empathizing, providing guidance, and offering constructive feedback to clients. A good coach creates a safe and supportive environment, helps clients set meaningful goals, and assists in developing strategies to overcome roadblocks or challenges. They empower clients to unlock their true potential, foster personal growth and development, and achieve sustainable results.
Here are 15 of the most effective coaching techniques, methods, and tools to improve your client’s performance and enhance your coaching skills.
1) Coaching Tool – The 5-minute pre-session Check-in
Let your clients complete a short questionnaire before each coaching session. This helps you and your clients recognize their progress and success since the last session. You’ll discover if there were roadblocks and what they’ve been struggling with. It shows you what bothers them most and what they want to focus on during their next session.
This technique helps your clients to mentally prepare for the upcoming meeting and makes your session prep super effective. There will be no surprises, and you can easily adjust the session to your client’s needs. (See the complete tool, including all questions in CleverMemo). This is also a perfect group and team coaching technique, as you can use the answers as a starting point for the next meeting.
2) Use the SMART goal-setting technique in your coaching
SMART goal setting stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based.
This technique brings a clear structure to goals. Each goal or milestone comes with clear and verifiable elements instead of vague resolutions.
The broad goal „I want to grow my business“ will be described in much more detailed and action-oriented steps by the client. The SMART goal could be: I will win five new clients for my coaching business within this month by asking for referrals, creating two helpful blog articles, and social media networking. This will allow me to increase my revenue and grow a thriving coaching practice. (Click here to find a goal toolkit with 7 goal setting exercises)
3) Effective coaching technique – Let clients write down and share the gold nuggets after each session
Encourage your clients to share their gold nuggets from each session with you. It gives them a clear picture of how much value (ROI) they got from your coaching. It’s easy to help them get going with just a few simple questions like: „What was the most valuable takeaway from this session?“.
This coaching technique helps you to find out the client’s „Aha“ moments and to avoid misunderstandings. If all these notes are organized in a shared stream accessible to you and the client, you can reread and recap these nuggets later in the process. (Here’s a coaching record template)
4) Ask open-ended questions
Open-ended questions allow your clients to include more information, including feelings, attitudes, and understanding of the subject. This allows the coach to better access the clients’ true thoughts and feelings on the topic. This article shows you 6 types of (mostly) open-ended questions and over 70 example questions for coaching and counseling. Click here to give it a read
5) Coaching technique – Use the power of writing and journaling
Writing down plans and goals is the first step toward making them a reality. It commits your clients to take action. Especially when they are shared and recorded with someone else (like with you – their coach). Writing is perfect to slow down the process, help clients recognize their progress, and express feelings or thoughts. Milestones become visible, and an inner dialogue gets initiated.
Writing enhances your client’s power of observation and focuses during a change or development process. Regular writing has also been linked to improved mood and reduced stress levels. A study with two groups has shown that people who write down goals and make a weekly progress report/journal achieved their goals at a rate of 76%. At the same time, the group participants who didn’t write anything down completed their goals at a rate of only 36%. Writing is an effective technique to help clients achieve sustainable results in coaching.
6) Being fully present and focused = Successful Coaching
Take two minutes for yourself and breathe calmly before each session. Once your meeting has started, avoid distractions and give your clients undivided attention. Show your genuine interest and that you care. This may sound self-evident, but it is essential to building trust and a meaningful coaching relationship.
7) Tools for Coaching: Follow-Up with the client – Use ongoing Feedback for invaluable information
Check-in with regular questionnaires where clients share their progress, experiences, success, or challenges they might be facing. This ongoing feedback as a follow-up between sessions is a perfect way to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the coaching. It shows your clients that you really care about their progress and gives them the feeling they’re not alone with their challenges.
You gain invaluable information that you can use to react to your client’s situation and prepare and adjust the next steps. This coaching technique helps your clients to stay accountable and keep what they said they would do on top of their minds. CleverMemo has two proven tools you can share with just one click: The weekly and monthly progress reports.
8) One of the best techniques for coaching and mentoring – The coaching journal of progress
A regular progress and reflection journal helps your clients develop self-awareness. A coaching journal is similar to the ongoing feedback described before. Clients can write down their emotions, experiences, observations, challenges, successes, thoughts, and feelings.
They don’t have to wait until the subsequent sessions, which might be in a week or two, but they can share what’s on their mind right when it happens.
A shared journal gives your clients the feeling that you’re always there for them and „listening“ without needing your presence. They can write whenever they feel like it – at night, in the morning, during the day, at the train station on the way to their workplace, or while waiting at the doctor’s. (Here are some proven templates)
A coaching journal allows them to focus on themselves without time pressure or distractions. Once written down, they can always reread and recap prior entries later in their process.
Once these thoughts are shared, you’ll gain invaluable information that will take your coaching and mentoring to the next level. When they write their journal entries using coaching software, they always have it at hand via laptop or smartphone.
9) The Wheel of Life – The famous tool and technique for coaching
The Wheel of Life is one of the most common tools and techniques for coaching. When we are focused on a specific task or project, it is easy to forget about the rest of our lives and lose our balance. It is sometimes challenging to give the necessary attention to the other areas of our life.
The Balanced Wheel of Life Assessment helps to make clients aware of this situation and subsequently ensure that the other areas of their life are not neglected.
The Wheel of Life is a great tool to identify which areas and domains of our client’s life might be out of balance. Usually, the Wheel of Life consists of 6-8 categories or areas crucial for a happy life.
When using the tool, you will find out how satisfied the clients are in each area and how much time they spend on it. In addition, the clients identify those parts of their life that need to be adjusted to live a happier, more satisfied, and more successful life.
Here is everything you need to know about successfully using the Wheel of Life, including a template.
10) Effective Coaching technique – Homework assignment to strengthen accountability
No matter if you call it homework, worksheet, questionnaire, or action item. They all support the work you’ve been doing within a coaching session. They help clients reflect, act, and achieve necessary milestones toward their more significant goals. Homework helps to see if and how the plans from each session are being applied. It allows clients to keep the focus on their projects, ideas, and goals.
Your clients get a guideline to apply the learnings from your coaching in real life. Clients take responsibility for their development, actions, and success during the coaching process and life in general. Assigned with a due date and automatic reminders for a friendly nudge on their shoulder, they strengthen your client’s accountability. This makes homework such a powerful technique, not only in business or life coaching.
11) Coaching models and techniques – The GROW Coaching Model
The GROW model is a simple method for goal setting and problem-solving in coaching. It includes for stages:
G for Goal: The goal is what the client wants to accomplish. It should be defined as clearly as possible. You could combine it with the SMART method described earlier.
R for Reality: That’s the status quo, where our client is right now. The client describes her current situation and how far she is from her goal.
O for Obstacles and Options: What are the obstacles (roadblocks) keep your client from achieving the goal? Once these obstacles are identified, you can find ways to overcome them – the options.
W for Way Forward: Once identified, the options must be converted into action steps for your client to accomplish her goal.
12) Shared To-Do list
Our clients commit to various action steps and plans during our sessions. Once they write down and share these to-dos with you, they put them into existence. They become like a contract between you and the client, strengthening their accountability.
Another benefit is that both of you know what is getting done and what isn’t at any moment during the process. You immediately see where they procrastinate or struggle and when your support is needed. The shared to-do list helped to set priorities, achieve milestones faster and keep track of the small wins during a coaching process.
Tip: CleverMemo has a ready-to-use „Shared to-do list“ and various other tools.
13) Positive coaching techniques – „I accomplished my goal!“
This tool is based on the famous miracle question and is a motivational coaching technique. It’s a great thought experiment if you ask your client to precisely describe a perfect day once the desired goal is achieved.
It shouldn’t be just a vague description but a whole day from start to finish.
How would she feel after waking up? What would she do? How would she think? This technique will encourage the client to use her positive imagination and visualize what she truly desires. Afterward, you can work together to get the actual steps to that „miracle“ where the goal is achieved.
14) Use every session to become a better coach – Improve your skills
Every single session offers you the chance to become a better coach and improve your coaching skills. Take five minutes immediately after your client leaves and write down some thoughts. You can track the reactions to questions of a client. Think about methods and techniques you have used in the session and how they worked.
Reflect upon the overall success of the session. Is there something you would do differently if you could „replay“ the session? Add comments, plans, notes, and ideas for the next session.
“When you stop trying to improve, you’ve stopped being good.” Philip Rosenthal
We added a quick session review tool in CleverMemo. Save it as a private note in the client’s stream so you can reread it before the next session.
15) Use the power of coaching software
Coaching software is a platform that supports you and your clients during the whole coaching process. It automatically organizes your client communication and lets you quickly implement all the coaching techniques and tools mentioned in this article.
CleverMemo is made to support and engage clients between sessions and help them to get the most out of their coaching with you. It ensures long-lasting and sustainable success and saves you time with daily tasks like session prep, worksheet assignments, and documentation. Start your free trial here to find out if it fits your coaching perfectly.
There are countless exercises, tools, and techniques to support effective coaching, and the ideas above are in no way a complete list. You should try and see how they fit your coaching style. What’s your favorite technique? Let me know in the comments, and share this article with your network if you think others could benefit from it.
Do you want more Coaching Tools, Techniques, Worksheets, And Methods?
Check out this Toolkit with over 300 ready-to-use resources: