June 8, 2023
Guest blog by Adrijana Milosavljevic, PCC
Have you ever found yourself caught up in a whirlwind of coaching sessions, without time to pause and reflect? Did you schedule too many back to back sessions in a day so you ended the working day feeling drained?
I started thinking about this topic recently when I felt that after one coaching session I found fantastic, I needed some time to close my eyes and get a glass of water and just reflect on it. I knew I needed to sit and write down short insights. But, I did not have that time. A team meeting was scheduled in 10 minutes. After that meeting and my head being filled with many different pieces of information - impressions and insights from the session in the morning were totally blurred and I felt I have missed a chance to explore something deeper. An exciting idea on how to support my client in our further process - vanished.
In this blog post, I will delve into two important topics: the significance of reflection for coaches and the importance of finding the optimal number of coaching sessions based on our individual needs.
There were several sources of inspiration for this article these days: reading more about EMCC competencies in order to apply for a credential, blog post from SolutionsAcademy about coaching when we are tired, reading the Radical Candor book by Kim Scott and also reading a Microsoft study about how scheduling back to back meetings impacts our brain and our ability to focus and engage. But the most important inspiration always comes from practice and clients.
While it is important to be present for clients and deliver impactful coaching sessions, it is equally essential for coaches to prioritize self-care and allow time for reflection. Taking the time to think and reflect on your coaching interactions is essential for personal growth, improving the quality of your coaching but also your wellbeing.
Enabling yourself “Time to think”
When we pause and reflect on our coaching sessions, we create space for deeper understanding and growth, potential for refining our coaching approach. It enables us to consider the impact of our words and actions, identify areas for improvement, and generate new ideas and perspectives.
In her book, "Radical Candor," Kim Scott emphasizes the significance of taking time to think. She highlights that effective leadership requires a balance between being present and engaged in the moment while also allowing time for reflection. This principle resonates deeply with coaching, where our ability to be fully present with clients is crucial, but so is the need to process and integrate our experiences. So - schedule dedicated Reflection Time.
Block out specific periods in your schedule for reflection, allowing yourself the mental space to process your coaching interactions and capture key insights. And as Kim Scotts says: “treat this time as non-negotiable” and prioritize it alongside your coaching sessions. This time can be invested into different activities. Here are several of them which I find valuable.
- Reviewing notes from the session
If you are taking notes during the session, going through them once again in order to identify key moments and gain insights for future sessions. Look for patterns, significant moments, and areas for potential further exploration. Consider how you can apply these insights to future sessions.
- Preparing for Supervision sessions
Contacting a peer or supervisor to discuss challenges and seek guidance is an essential aspect of ongoing professional development. Reflection time can be used to reach out and prepare topics for supervision, fostering continuous learning.
- Exploring Theoretical Content
Researching relevant theoretical frameworks or tools can enhance a coach's toolkit. Sharing valuable content with coachees in between sessions (with the disclaimer that it is optional, not homework :)) can stimulate further exploration and growth.
- Embrace Solitude and Silence
Find moments of solitude and silence throughout your day just to rest and recharge. Whether it's taking a walk in nature, or simply sitting quietly, these moments allow for introspection and rejuvenation. Sometimes I just need 10 minutes to take a glass of water, play some music (I often play some songs of a domestic jazz band called Fish in oil :)) and lie down in the hammock on my balcony.
What is the optimal daily number of coaching sessions for you?
The number of coaching sessions a coach should schedule in a day depends on various factors, including the coach's workload, whether coaching is their sole job or a side endeavor, individual level of experience and preferences, or as some colleagues told me - who the coachee is. Of course, the motivation factor that makes it tempting to schedule as many coaching sessions as possible is making our business sustainable and maximizing revenue.
However, I believe all of us should do our best to determine our optimal “session load '' to ensure quality and effectiveness of our coaching, and also protect our wellbeing.
For me, after some experimentation, I have found that leaving a minimum 30 minutes between sessions and limiting myself to a maximum of four individual sessions per day strikes the right balance and enables me to maintain focus, offer the best support to my clients, and have enough time for reflection. Or, if I have scheduled a group or team coaching session that spans several hours, I might limit myself to only one individual session on that day.
Personalizing Our Approach
It's important to customize our approach based on the unique demands of each coaching engagement and listen to our own needs and preferences at the same time. It's okay to experiment and find what works best for us individually. Some coaches may thrive with a higher number of sessions, while others may find that fewer sessions allow for deeper focus and reflection. Reflection and finding the optimal number of coaching sessions could be vital elements in our journey as coaches. The key is to be attuned to our own energy levels, ensuring that we can deliver our best support to clients while maintaining our own well-being.
So, how much time do you need to recharge after a session?
What do you think - how many sessions in a day are optimal for a coach?
And - if the reflection is a new habit you want to introduce in your coaching activities - how would you ensure sustainability?
What is your first next step?
If you would like to discuss your next steps or hang out with a bunch of coaches, ask questions about our programs, why not join us for a free coaching meetup and exchange?
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