At the beginning of a coaching engagement, it is important for your coach to learn several things about you in order to be of the best service to you. The first would be why you sought out coaching to begin with. In other words, what is the goal you are trying to achieve? As important, if not more important, your coach needs to understand why it is crucial for you to achieve this goal now. This gives your coach insight into your values and your priorities at this time.

As an example, let’s say the goal that you’ve set for yourself is that you want to get promoted to the senior leadership team. And, let’s say that one of your primary motivations for setting this goal is that you want to have more influence over decisions happening within your division. When asked to explain why this is important to you, we discover that you feel that there is an opportunity to bridge the gap between leadership and line staff to strengthen the entire division’s alignment with the company’s goals.

Once your coach has a clear picture of where you’re heading, they need to understand where you’re starting from. By this I mean what is your current reality?

Continuing with the same example, let’s say that you are currently a middle manager, having worked your way up to that position over the course of your tenure with the organization. You are well-known and respected by your peers and direct reports but have little visibility beyond your direct supervisor.

Next, your coach needs to understand what you’ve already tried and what you’ve learned from those experiences.

Let’s say you were raised with the belief that you should put your head down, do good work, and your work will speak for itself. While you’ve continuously gotten good performance reviews, and have received a few promotions, you feel your career has stalled. You’ve recently watched others leapfrog you and you are worried that you have plateaued with the company.

The last piece of the puzzle for your coach is to understand your learning preferences. For example, are you someone who prefers theories and frameworks? Do you find articles helpful? Would examples illustrated through stories of others work best for you? Being clear with your coach as to what types of learning styles work best for you, and which don’t, enables your coach to tailor their approach.

With this background, your coach is able to help you craft and navigate a roadmap to achieve the goals that you have established for yourself.