The client, Carey, approached me at a time of great need.

We had worked together a couple of years previously when I had started work on a Hampshire County Council contract (being delivered by a national charity).

My role then was to provide coaching and mentoring for new network leaders.

Carey had put herself forward to be one of the leads across the county, with this new and challenging project.

She had voluntarily taken on additional responsibilities aside from her day-to-day role of being a manager.

What struck me at that time was her determination and passion for her work but her direct approach to me two years later was for a totally different reason.

‘Covid had affected my mood and my team were needing extra support (yet my cup felt that it had run dry). I was trying to survive day to day without a full team and the lack of support for myself had started to show weaknesses in my own practice and the team’.

It was clear that she had no intention of giving up. She had overcome many challenges in her life and work before, but she recognised that she urgently needed some extra help.

The brief

Carey knew how coaching had helped her to move forward previously. She still had the passion for her work and a real zest for learning, but she said that she ‘had lost momentum’ for the job that she usually loved doing.

She knew that things needed to change for her to succeed and to be able to feel happy and fulfilled again in her role. She also described a mix of feelings:

‘Some things were holding me back’.

Covid had put pressure on so many managers, trying to steer their team in a different way of working and to deal with weekly if not daily updates from government on what could be done and what had to stop. There was a lot of pressure and it was taking a toll.

Carey was also aware that she had to change her way of thinking, and that she personally needed to do things differently, and this was where the most help was needed.

Having approached her manager, she was then given the go ahead to secure a coach who could provide the much-needed support specific to her with what she was currently needing to deal with.

‘I sat down and had a long think about who I wanted, as I knew I had to trust them and be able to work with them. I had previously worked with Debra on a project, and I compared this with others who I had worked with who were offering a similar coaching package. I realised that it was Debra’s calm, collected way and the way I could trust her that it needed to be Debra. She also was the most honest and genuine person that I had met who was currently working in this field’.

And so, work began!

The offer

I put together a contract for the work Carey had requested for approval by her manager.

This included expectations on the part of the client as well as exactly what I as the coach would offer as part of the package of support. This included:

  • A ‘critical friend’ approach using coaching as well as mentoring. Identifying and dealing with priority issues/talking through options and setting goals and actions to achieve outcomes and targets required. A supervision type meeting involving reflection, enquiry, and challenge.
  • Support with developing and enhancing her own supervision meetings with team members to ensure all needs were met, including the health and wellbeing of individuals.
  • Consideration of leadership and management styles to work in the most effective way with the team of staff and to manage different scenarios.

I asked Carey to complete a ‘Pre-coaching Exercise’ in the form of a questionnaire.

I asked about priorities in the ‘here and now’, her perceived strengths and weaknesses and the kind of support that she particularly wanted from me as her coach.

I had not met Carey in person previously and so through the provision of a ‘free intake session’ we took a window of opportunity outside of lockdown to do just that.

I was able to explain in person how the agreed monthly one-hour sessions would work and more about the additional support outside of the sessions; signposting to relevant short reads, exercises, and tools to support understanding and further development between sessions.

I was also able to go through the questionnaire and explore issues with Carey.

Always a valuable exercise for the coach, as what a person thinks they want, and need is not always the case. Find out more about this, in the case study here.

The time with Carey also gave her the opportunity to ask more questions as they arose.

Email exchange between sessions was also available if needed.

Carey was however clear about what she wanted to focus on in her coaching sessions and over the coming months.

The solution

Covid measures meant future sessions in person would be difficult, if not impossible, and it was Carey’s preference to have telephone sessions (as opposed to using Zoom).

Personal Development Coaching uses a tried and tested model. It must be stated that it is not about giving advice or telling a person how and what to do: this is a total misconception.

Using open-ended questions, gently challenging beliefs, and by digging deep behind statements made by the client, the coach can find out more about what may have prevented a person moving forward on their own in the past and what exactly had been holding them back.

What often happens at this point in the questioning and exploration of past events and finding out what the client has already tried, is that the focus the client has, is on the negatives as opposed to the positives.

A coach can help draw out the positives. This in turn improves self-awareness and motivation for the client to persevere, to try again and to approach a similar challenge in a different way and using different strategies.

To tackle something in the same way as before just gives the same result.

A client can expect to achieve success if they are prepared to commit to making changes, stretching out of their ‘comfort zone’ and on occasion changing their mindset from one of acceptance to one of growth.

Action must be taken to achieve a goal.

The outcome

Carey was willing to do this.

Time and time again during our coaching relationship she proved to herself that she had the ability to do whatever she had set out to do.

As each goal was achieved, she changed her focus and moved on to the next challenge with renewed enthusiasm and motivation.

Mentoring support was also provided: talking through scenarios using my own experiences of dealing with similar situations, in a similar role.

Carey was able to take from these discussions what she wanted for herself making her own decisions on all aspects of her work that she felt needed to change.

Additional benefits

A client often reports additional benefits from a coaching experience such as raised self-awareness and understanding or identification of personal strengths.

They may feel more empowered having developed new strategies for dealing with personal challenges.

Self-confidence is increased and there is raised self-esteem as they know that they can use their new approaches in the future.

Carey reported on her recent experience:

‘What surprised me the most about coaching was how easy it was to use the skills in all areas of my life. I was also shocked to find out that I actually possessed many of the skills within myself.

Through coaching, I have found my mojo again and been able to reflect on my own behaviours to improve the life of my team and the organisation in which I work’.

Do you need help in ‘surviving day to day’?

Has Covid, or is anything else impacting on your ability to perform your job well? Have you identified with some of the issues raised here and feel that a coach could help you too? If so, please read more about Strive’s One-to-One support.