Why it’s Important to Dig Deep to Achieve the Best Results from Coaching
We’re all complex humans with lots hidden below the surface. This article invites you in to hear more about my coaching philosophy and process.
My coaching philosophy stems from a lesson learned early in my coach training; that most often the issues clients present in sessions are only a glimpse of the real problem. There’s usually an underlying belief, be it a fear, insecurity, misunderstanding or emotion, beneath the facade with which we’re presented. Coaches are given a platform to ask questions and challenge clients to go deeper, beyond the surface level, to truly understand what might be getting in the way of reaching their goals. I developed the DIG Model as a coaching framework that serves as a reminder for me to do just that; encourage clients to dig deep, and to be curious about what’s below the surface.
When I think of a coaching session, I see it has having distinct layers through which the client slowly traverses with each question answered. As the client speaks they reveal new thoughts and gain a clearer understanding of the issues at hand. Having a safe space to explore any underlying beliefs at play is valuable in working through any goal or problem.
Just as it’s important to function from a place of curiosity to get to the heart of the matter, it’s just as important to set up the coaching agreement to ensure the session is meeting the client’s needs. The DIG Model is a three-phase framework that helps me stay on track and ensure the client gets the most out of the coaching session.
Phase 1: Determine the Focus
Phase 1 is all about determining where the client wants to focus during our time together. It’s a true gift that the individual is opening up time and space to dedicate for themself to evolve and it’s important that we use that the time is used in the client’s best interest. I ask questions to get to the heart of what they want to focus on;
What would be valuable to explore today?
What would be the best use of our time to discuss over the next hour?
What sticks out in your mind out of those ideas you just mentioned?
While coaches should never have an agenda, it’s important for them to pose questions rooted in a framework so the client can clearly define their focus for the session. Without a framework, it’s hard to ensure that each client is getting the best experience. This phase is often where it’s most important for heavy-duty emotional excavation. This digging may include seeking clarity on what specific terms mean to the client, asking open questions to empathize and understand the client’s feelings, or figure out what might be leading to the client’s dissatisfaction. If a client is able to narrow down their thoughts into what they truly want or need out of the conversation, this awareness will help them to better define what they truly want to accomplish.
Phase 2: Identify the Goal
Once the focus of the conversation is established, there should then be a goal that’s identified for the session. Without a goal, the conversation lacks direction and purpose. Asking about the ideal outcome of the session reframes the client’s thinking to take a sometimes-big picture focus and cut it down into what we can accomplish today, in this moment. It’s a roadmap for the session and a way for us to stay on track and understand if we’ve reached that goal by the end of our time together. These goals can be tangible, such as creating a personal statement or business plan, or intangible, such as feeling more confident, less stressed or a desire to gain more clarity. Even when talking about the desired outcome of the session, it’s necessary for me to dig deep to truly understand what the client wants and what they’re hoping to accomplish.
Phase 3: Generate a Plan
The last piece of the puzzle and the one that puts thoughts into action is guiding the client to generate a plan with which to move forward. This plan will vary depending on the wants and needs of each individual, but it’s important that we always wrap up the session with realistic next steps that move towards the end goal. So how do we dig deeper in this phase? By asking questions that may reveal what has gotten in the way in past attempts and bringing awareness to what could get in the way this time around. With a readiness to face obstacles that may come up, clients are better prepared to not let those things stand in the way.
If we’re looking for the coaching experience to have a true impact, it’s important to go beyond the surface and dig deeper in every phase of the conversation. The DIG philosophy and framework is a helpful reminder for me to make sure that every client is getting the benefits of breaking below the surface so that we can dig deep and see lasting changes.