Coaching techniques and tools, if used the right way, can change the direction of client’s lives and help them achieve continuous growth, prosperity, and sustainable success.
Effective coaching goes beyond the ability to ask the right questions in the right 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.
Here are 14 of the most effective coaching techniques and tools to improve your client’s performance and enhance your coaching skills.
1) Coaching tool – The 5-minute pre-session CheckIn
Let your clients complete a short questionnaire before each coaching session. This helps both you and your clients to recognize their progress and success since the last session. You’ll find out if there were roadblocks and what they’ve been struggling with. It shows you what bothers them most at the moment 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 into 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 useful 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 leaves them with a clear picture of how much value (ROI) they got out of 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 that is accessible to both you and the client you can reread and recap these nuggets any time at later stages during 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
Writing down plans and goals is the first step towards 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 and help clients recognize their progress and to express feelings or thoughts. Milestones become visible and an inner dialogue gets initiated.
Writing enhances your client’s power of observation and focus 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%. Whereas the participants of the group who didn’t write anything down achieved their goals at a rate of only 36%. Writing is an effective technique to help clients achieve sustainable results in coaching.
6 Be fully present and focused
Take two minutes for yourself and breathe calmly before each session. Once your meeting has started try to avoid distractions and give your clients undivided attention. Show your genuine interest and that you really care. This may sound self-evident but is an important step toward building trust and a meaningful coaching relationship.
7 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 the react to your client’s situation, as well as to 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 mind. CleverMemo comes with two proven tools you can share with just one click: The weekly and monthly progress report.
8 One of the best techniques for coaching and mentoring – The coaching journal of progress
A regular progress and reflection journal helps your clients to develop and gain self-awareness. A coaching journal is similar to the ongoing feedback described before. Your clients can write down their emotions, experiences, observations, challenges, success, thoughts, and feelings.
They don’t have to wait until the next sessions which might be in a week or two but can share what’s on their mind right in the moment where it happens.
A shared journal gives your clients the feeling that you’re always there for them and „listening“ without the need of your presence. They can write whenever they feel like – at night, in the morning, during the day, at the train station on the way to their workplace or while waiting at the doctor. (Here are some proven templates)
A coaching journal gives them the ability to focus on themselves only without any time pressure or distractions. Once written down they can always reread and recap prior entries at a later stage of their process.
Once these thoughts are shared with you you’ll gain invaluable information that will take your coaching and mentoring to the next level. When they write their journal entries by using a coaching software they have it always at hand via laptop or smartphone.
9 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 to reflect, take action and achieve necessary milestones towards their bigger goal. Homework helps to see if and how the plans from each session are being applied. It helps clients to keep the focus on their plans, 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 some 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.
10 Coaching models and techniques – The GROW 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 clear 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 away from her goal.
O for Obstacles and Options: What are the obstacles (roadblocks) that 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 need to be converted into action steps that will take your client to accomplish her goal.
11 A 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 actually put them into existence. They become like a contract between you and the client and strengthens 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 comes with a ready-to-use „Shared to-do list“ and various other tools.
12 Positive coaching techniques – „My goal is achieved“
This tool is based on the famous miracle question and is a very motivational coaching technique. It’s a great thought experiment if you ask your client to exactly 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 feel? This technique will encourage the client to use her positive imagination and visualize what she truly desires. Afterwards, you can work together to get the actual steps to that „miracle“ where the goal is achieved.
13 Use every session to become a better coach – Improve your skills
Every single session offers you the chance to become a better coach and to improve your coaching skills. Take five minutes immediately after your client left and write down some thoughts. You can track 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 be better, 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 prior to the next session.
14 Use the power of coaching software
A coaching software is a platform that supports you and your clients during the whole coaching process. It automatically organizes your client communication and enables you to easily 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 the long-lasting and sustainable success and saves you a lot of time with your daily tasks like session prep, worksheet assignments, and documentation. Start your free trial here to find out if it’s a perfect fit for your coaching.
There are countless exercises, tools and techniques to support effective coaching and the ideas above are in no way a complete list. I encourage you to give them a 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.