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Why Deliver Coaching by Phone?

Many coaches use the telephone for coaching, some even using the web to make internet calls. But when I first started coaching I was very clear that I wanted to work with my clients face-to-face. You may also prefer to work in person and may have a number of concerns about telephone coaching.

May be this is because we know that:

* In person you can pick up on a range of non-verbal responses – for example – body and eye movement, posture and balance.

* You can see as well as hear the silences in the conversation.

* You can use a physically separate and confidential space in which to work and eliminate distractions and interruptions.

* Making the effort to travel and meet in person can communicate the value that both you and your client place on the coaching sessions.

* It is easier use physical activities and to work through materials together.

I was introduced to telephone coaching by one of my clients who wanted to continue her coaching sessions while she was working overseas. So I started coaching over the telephone now think it is a great service to offer to clients.


Some of the benefits are practical:

  • You can work with clients nationally or internationally, and this can really broaden your client base.
  • You can be more flexible in the times you coach – late evenings and early mornings, for example, suit many of my busiest clients who can’t carve out sufficient time for a session during the working day.
  • There is no travelling time for either you or your client – and you can spend more time on coaching.

Other benefits are that:

  • As you have more flexibility over time, you can choose times of the day when you will be more focused, present or energised
  • Telephone coaching sessions can be very intense and concentrated and you can achieve a great deal in a short session.   This opens up the opportunity for your client to have shorter, highly focused sessions. Half-hour sessions are much less likely if you are meeting in person.   The investment of time and money in setting up a face-to-face session often encourages you to plan and your client to expect a longer session.
  • Some clients feel more comfortable in their own environment and on the telephone may not have a sense of being observed in the same way as in an in-person session. This can mean they are more open and the session moves more quickly. Of course, the same applies to the coach. For instance, a fellow coach once said to me that she is more confident when coaching over the telephone.
  • Telephone coaching allows you to work with more clients, and with clients you would not be able to work with in-person. It is also less expensive – particularly in terms of the cost of your time – and you can pass these savings on to your client. This means that coaching can be more affordable and accessible.
  • It is also really useful to offer to existing clients who want to continue their coaching sessions while they are away from home. It is also great for clients who are coming to the end of their coaching and benefit from a phased closing of the coaching relationship.

It goes without saying that telephone coaching makes access to coaching a great deal easier for clients with some physical disabilities or mobility problems. I also believe it is a great skill to be able to coach over the telephone as it requires excellent listening and rapport building skills as well as creativity in using activities.

So, if you get the chance to do some telephone coaching – why not give it a try?

Why take Coaching Notes?

Taking notes can be a distraction from being fully present with your client. You can focus on writing, for example, rather than listening and can find yourself recording facts rather than the key themes. You may also miss some interesting non-verbal cues if you are concentrating on writing rather than your client.

Taking notes can also formalise and slow down the interaction and this may not be helpful if you aim is to develop rapport, and encourage responsiveness and spontaneity in the sessions.

Your client may also be concerned about what you are noting down – particularly in a corporate context, where there may be concerns about confidentiality and reporting. This may lead your client to hold back in the session.

If you take notes, you can also become responsible for identifying the significant points and developments in the session rather than your client.  This can also move the ownership and power in evaluating the impact of the session from your client to you.

However, notes are an invaluable resource – particularly if you are coaching a client over a period of time. Without a record of the sessions it is very difficult to trace your client’s development, change, successes and achievements. A record of the actual language and images used by your client in different sessions can point to recurring issues, themes, perceptions and perspectives and your client’s shifts over time. Notes of early sessions can also provide reminders of the bigger picture and initial aims identified by your client.

Notes also provide you with a record of the coaching process which can be used for your professional reflection and to inform the development of your coaching practice and skills.

Personally, I can’t do without my notes, so I take the following 7 steps to limit the distractions:

1  Agree how I will take and use notes with my client before we start coaching – and address any concerns the client may have.

2  Aim to limit any note taking I do in the coaching session – I tend to make notes immediately after the session for face to face sessions.

3  Ask the client to produce the notes if they find it useful.

4  Use other ways of recording – if they are appropriate to the sessions and ok with the client – this may include recording sessions.

5  Make sure that I keep any records secure and private and do not share these with third parties – even when the company is paying for the client’s coaching, notes are not shared with the company.

6  Make sure that any notes I produce are of use to the client - I use a template to remind me of the kinds of things that may be of use and encourage my clients to revise and use this template.

7  Make sure that I am clear with my clients about any circumstances that may cause me to share my notes, whether legal or ethical,  before starting coaching.

Using Coaching at Work

How can coaching be used in the workplace?

Many coaching skills, principles and practices can be directly transferred to the work situation.

We can use coaching to:

  • support professional development and learning
  • identify different strategies to improve performance
  • improve communication
  • involve people in decision making and goal setting
  • encourage self-awareness and accurate self-assessment

Some examples of the positive outcomes of coaching include:

  • establishing trust
  • effective questioning to get to the root of issues/barriers
  • creating awareness of different perspectives, values and attitudes
  • establishing and agreeing methods and strategies for accountability
  • clear communication

Opportunities for coaching in the workplace include:

  • Appraisal
  • Setting learning development goals
  • Managing underperformance
  • Agreeing team objectives and goals
  • Supporting staff who are taking on new roles/responsibilities

How can coaching be used in business?

In addition to uses we have already discussed – coaching may be used to develop effective behaviours related to specific issues/business targets:

  • better time management/greater productivity
  • better communication/improved customer service/improved sales

Finally, coaching can be used to directly address values, attitudes and beliefs which can lead to significant changes in staff performance.

What is a Coaching Agreement?

Man and Woman ReadingA coaching agreement sets out the ground rules and practical arrangements for your coaching sessions with your clients.

This is mutually agreed between coach and client and outlines the responsibilities of both partners.

It is very useful in establishing a professional, ethical, and businesslike relationship and parts of the agreement can be included in a legal contract if appropriate.

But a signature on a written agreement is no guarantee that your client will engage with the issues around boundaries, responsibilities and accountability.

A coaching agreements is most effectively used as a tool for opening up the conversation about expectations, perceptions and commitment and practical arrangements.

So, consider talking through the agreement so your client engages with the issues and thinks about some “what ifs”.

This also gives the opportunity to talk about confidentiality, ethics and duty of care.  If you are paid by an organization to work with an employee, it is good to be clear on these issues, in case there is any conflict between your responsibilities towards your client and the organization.

And, as the coaching progresses, if any concerns about health, safety or legality emerge, your client knows what they can expect from you.

You can also take some time to look at what you and your client will each bring to the coaching and what you will do if you are not happy with how things are going.

You can also encourage your client to tell you what works and what doesn’t for them and discuss boundaries and what is important to you both as individuals.

For a more dynamic written agreement you could ask your client to add their own paragraph which describes what they want from the coaching and commit to doing.

This gives a strong start to the coaching, a clear foundation from which to work together and encourages openness.  It also makes clear whether clients will pay for sessions they miss, and how to deal with re-arranging sessions – giving both you and your clients a professional framework from which to develop a respectful and fruitful coaching relationship.

Why you Need a Personal Profile

Smiling GirlIf you are a coach with any kind of web presence – even if it is just one web page with your contact details – you need a personal profile.

When people find information on you on the web, they want to find out more about you and what you can do to help them and a personal profile can help you communicate this as well as make a more powerful connection with readers.

You may already have an About Us page on your website – and it is also worth considering how much of a sense of you as a coach and as a person is communicated by this page.  After all, when people invest in coaching they are investing their trust in you as person and as professional and are looking to make a personal connection.

At first writing about yourself can feel a little egotistical and many people avoid talking about themselves as they fear that this may be viewed as bragging.

But do not let this put you off – your aim is simply to give visitors enough information to get a sense of whether they are open to working with you. Although not everyone wants to know more about you, why disappoint those who do?

Some ways to make your profile more compelling

  • Include your photo – this really puts a human face on your service.  Using your logo instead can seem impersonal or mysterious, and certainly sends a corporate rather than a personal message.  Wouldn’t you feel more comfortable seeing the person or people you are thinking about contacting and working with?
  • Be true to your personality and values in the way you write – the words you use and the things you choose to share – many personal profiles are simply very dry and dull
  • Keep what you say short and direct and aim to answer what you think are your readers burning questions.

If you are not sure what to include, why not follow this simple structure?

Your background and interests

Here you could say something about your experience before you were a coach, particularly highlighting experiences relevant to your client group, you can talk about your passions, interests and achievements.

Who you work with

Here you could describe the type of client you tend to work with, what they come to you for and the kind of outcomes they have achieved.  You can even include some client testimonials.  If you do include testimonials, a photo of the person, and their name, position, and website (if they have one) can give the testimonials more impact.

How you work

Here you could say where you work and how – face-to-face, telephone or by email.  You can also let people know how to get in touch with you and how to find out more about you and what you do.

Some people prefer to phone, some prefer email, some even like to visit or write, and some like to do some research online before getting in touch.  So, offering a range of options of finding out more about you and how you work will appeal to most people.  You can have all these options on your website and a link from you profile to your website.


Don’t forget to include that all important photo and encourage people to get in contact with you!

Why People Buy into Coaching

One key thing that coaching can offer is to bring about changes in behaviour, which has always proved a challenge for employers.

The Denison Leadership Development Survey 2009 – a study with the American Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) on extensive one-on-one coaching and behavioural change – found thatstructured coaching sessions with multisource feedback are a winning combination to change managerial  behaviors.”

There are also very high levels of satisfaction expressed from people who experience coaching whether corporate or personal clients – as the coaching process is personalised and highly responsive to individuals.

The ICF Global Coaching Survey found that 95% or more of clients would rate their coaches good or excellent and Given the same circumstances that previously led them to seek coaching and 96% of clients indicated that they would take up coaching again.

The survey also found that people buy into coaching because coaching is seen as an action plan.   When asked why they selected coaching instead of alternatives such as therapy or counselling, some focus groups participants indicated that coaching offered them an action plan rather than an opportunity to explore their issues.

When looking at the most important reason for seeking coaching services career opportunities (15%) and business management (14%) top the list as the most important.

However, When asked to select the top 3reasons for seeking a coach recently people identified self-esteem/self-confidence (select 41%) and work/life balance (36%), and this confirms these as core motivators for coaching,

(A total of 2,165 coaching clients from 64 countries participated in the survey from September to November 2008.)

How Much do Coaches Earn?

Research commissioned by the International Coach Federation found that the average annual salary of a full time coach was just over $82,000 and a part-time coach was just over $26,000. At the time of writing this is around £50,500  for a full-time coach and £16,000  for a part-time coach.

If you are a member of the ICF you can see a copy of this report at:–reports/

In reality, coaches working with corporate clients earn more money than those working with private life-coaching clients.

However, many coaches combine coaching with other forms of activity that earn them additional income and help build their coaching business – some examples are writing or speaking, or running workshops and events.

One positive financial aspect is the relatively low start up costs of setting up a coaching business – as the main expenditure will on be training and marketing.

In terms of time – your coaching business could take between one year and 18 months to establish and so you will need to be able to cover your expenses – both business and personal – for this time.

Coaching is still a relatively new profession and is growing in popularity and demand.  A quick internet search will reveal a number of specialisms emerging in coaching – for example:

leadership coaching, sales coaching, marketing coaching, small business coaching, career coaching, financial coaching, couples/relationship coaching, retirement coaching, youth coaching, wellness coaching, exercise/fitness coaching, communication coaching, motivational coaching, spiritual coaching, Christian coaching

and the list goes on …

Coaching is often a second or even a third career for the majority of new entrants to the profession, and, rather than the desire to earn a six figure income,  many people are drawn to coaching because of the flexibility it gives them in their working life and because of their strong sense of satisfaction from the work.

Online Coaching Directories

There are a growing number of on-line directories of coaching services, freelance coaches and coaching companies which are searchable by the public.

Some of the best known include:

The Coach Referral Service – a directory provided by the International Coach Federation.

and the International Coach Federation list of credentialled members

The Coach Directory – provided by Coach U

Find a Coach – provided by the Coaches Training Institute

Find a Coach – provided by Coachville and currently being revised

Find a Coach – provided by the International Association of Coaching

Some directories focus on coaches with particular specialisms e.g. ADHD, Careers, etc.

Looking for a coach?

Some things to bear in mind:

  • some directories have been developed and are maintained by coach training providers and list their graduates’ services
  • although a coaches services may be listed there is no explicit recommendation or indication of the quality of the coaching
  • you need to be clear on the qualifications, credentials, experience, specialism and skills you are looking for when searching the listings
  • if an entry is more visible due to length, position or amount of detail this may be because this is a paid/premium entry – rather than a recommended coaching provider
  • the listings are one place from which to begin your research
  • many coaches do list with their professional body or training provider as they value their training, membership or credentials and are proud to be associated with these bodies

Thinking about listing your coaching services on a directory?

Some things to bear in mind:

  • is the style, feel and focus of the directory in line with your approach to coaching?
  • is it easy for potential clients to find you on the directory and to contact you – for example, can you link to your website?
  • who is the target market for the directory – are these the clients you aim to work with?  Consider your specialism/s and your location
  • how is the directory advertised – is it easy for people to search and find on the web? How many people visit the site?
  • what are other coaches’ experience of using the directory?

Finally   … online directories can be a great free resource if you do your homework – have a look around at what is available.

Coaching for Performance – Sir John Whitmore

Coaching for Performance: Growing People, Performance and Purpose

Sir John Whitmore

Nicholas Brealey Publishing (March 2002)

In this highly influential book, Sir John Whitmore describes what he believes coaching is, how it can be used, and the skills required for coaching.  Whitmore also outlines his GROW model which can be used both in a personal, corporate and team context.

Chapters 1  to 4  explore what coaching is

Chapters 5 and 6  look at the skills of questioning

Chapters 7  to 10 introduce Whitmore’s GROW model – Goals, Reality, Options and Will

Subsequent chapters discuss a range of topics – including motivation, coaching the corporation, feedback and assessment and coaching teams. Whitmore also includes chapters on emotional intelligence and spirtual intelligence and their relation to coaching.

This book is underpinned by Whitmore’s belief in the values and potential of coaching and his emphasis on the performance-related, psychological principles on which he believes coaching is based.  In this third edition, Whitmore explains more fully the principles of coaching and illustrates them with simple analogies both from business and sport.

This is an accessible and clearly written book which gives an invaluable introduction to the principles of coaching and the widely used GROW model.  Each of the elements of the GROW model are carefully delineated with supporting coaching questions.  This book is useful for all new coaches and managers using coaching skills in performance management – particularly, if they would like a model to complement outcomes based coaching models they may be aready be using in business or corporate coaching.

Starting with a New Client

It is always exciting but sometimes a little daunting to start work with a new client. After all, you have yet have yet to build up rapport and trust. There can also be a nagging concern about whether you will fit and work well together.

Even the most experienced coach can feel this way but you can turn this concern into a tool to improve your coaching. Think of it as a clean sweep –  the opportunity to think again and review familiar materials, revamp and improve them.

I always think carefully about the tools and resources I will share with my new coaching client in the first session, because I want to make the activities both fresh to me and targeted to the needs of my client.

Reviewing my materials from the perspective of my client can also help me clear and get present, and to get my agenda out of the way before the first session.

However, no matter how many changes I make, I have found that there are 6 things that always work with new clients:

1 Asking some core coaching questions:

In order to start to get a picture of where you client is, where they want to be and how to get there – decide on four must-ask questions.

Here are four of my core questions:

  • What are the biggest challenges, issues, or concerns you are facing in your life right now?
  • If you woke up tomorrow and life was perfect, what would it be like?
  • How would you like me to bring value to each coaching session?
  • What may stop you in getting value out of coaching?

2           Sharing your approach to coaching

In sharing your approach to coaching with your client, you are communicating that it is important to be direct, honest and open about your style of coaching as well as your expectations and responsibilities. This helps build rapport, trust and honesty in the coaching conversations.  It also begins the process of building the coaching alliance.

3           Sending a personalised welcome

This personal touch is important in beginning a supportive relationship with your client – and can be in any form – a welcome letter, card or e-card are just some examples.  I tend to use a welcome letter as it allows you to introduce a package of materials (a Coaching Packet) to the client and an explanation of what needs to be completed.

4           Sharing your Code of Ethics

Sharing your Code of Ethics is really helpful in building trust - for example, the focus on confidentiality  is particularly welcomed by clients, especially corporate clients.  Discussing the scope of coaching – what it is, and what it is not in relation to other helping professions – can also open a conversation about the support needs of your client and helps establish clear boundaries in case any issues emerge later in the coaching relationship which may not fall within the scope of coaching.

5           Making a coaching agreement

This process really helps up firm up the practical arrangements for coaching, including fees and the scheduling of sessions.

6           Giving the client an activity, resource or coaching tool to work on before the first session

This gets the session off to a good start and really focus your conversation. It can also gives the client a taster of coaching before their  first session and can spark their interest and anticipation.

Finally – even if you think you have created the best possible resource –  be prepared to let go of whatever does not seem to be working - after all, what matters is what works for your client!

Definitions of Coaching

Coaching is a partnership between a coach and the client.

Coaching focuses on your goals and aims to help you achieve these goals. Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to change their approach to meet individual client needs. They seek to encourage their clients to identify solutions and strategies and they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful.

Coaching is:

  • an equal partnership of trust between the coach and the person being coached
  • involves ‘conversation’ rather than advice giving, discipline, or therapy
  • built on client accountability
  • results orientated
  • is a fairly short-term activity and time bound
  • consists of one-to-one developmental discussions or whole team/group sessions in team/group coaching – these can take place face-to-face, or over the telephone and can be supported by online interaction focuses on improving performance and/or developing/enhancing individuals’ skills
  • works on the belief that clients are self-aware and do not require a clinical intervention
  • focuses on current and future performance/behaviour rather than the past
  • a skilled activity.

Some descriptions used by some of the major coaching bodies and authors on coaching include:

International Coach Federation

“Coaching is an interactive process that helps individuals and organisations to develop more rapidly and produce more satisfying results. Coaches work with clients in all areas including business, career, finances, health and relationships. As a result of coaching, clients set better goals, take more action, make better decisions, and more fully use their natural strengths.”

Sir John Whitmore, author of Coaching for Performance

“..unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.”

Anthony Grant, University of Sydney, 2000 business Coaching

“….a collaborative solution-focused, results-orientated and systematic process in which the coach facilitates the enhancement of work performance, life experience, self-directed learning and personal growth of the coachee.”

Coach U


  • Assist people to identify specific goals and then reach those goals faster and with ease.
  • Provide clients with the tools, perspective and structure to accomplish more through a process of accountability.
  • Reframe beliefs and create a point of focus for clients to reflect upon”

How to Find a Good Coach

How do you find a good coach?

The best advice is – do your research, shop around, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, find out a little about coach credentials and speak to more than one coach.

Here are some questions you can ask of any coach:

  • Have they been specifically trained in coaching skills
  • Are they a member of a professional coaching body?
  • What level of membership or credential do they hold with their professional body?
  • What Code of Ethics do they work to?
  • How much coaching have they done and what type of clients do they work with?
  • How do they ensure confidentiality?
  • What is coaching?
  • What are the differences between training, consulting, mentoring, therapy, counseling and coaching?
  • What are the no-go areas or boundaries in the coaching relationship?
  • Can you see some testimonials, references or speak to past clients?
  • Do they have work with a coach, mentor or supervisor themselves?

You should also find out about:

  • The experience this person brings to coaching or their specialism – there are coaches that coach specific professions such as lawyers, teachers, CEOs etc because their own experience is in this area. Although it is not necessary for your coach to have the same experience as you, sometimes it helps in developing understanding and rapport and gives you confidence in their ability. However, you may also actively look for someone with different experience from you – for example, in an area you would like to develop or move into. One example of this would be if you wanted to become a public speaker and engaged a coach who was experienced in this area.
  • Their values and approach – these need to fit with yours, in order that you work positively together.
  • Define your goal and ask what the coaching will do for you – be specific about what you need and ask about the practicalities of how the coach will work with you (methods, how the coaching will be delivered, evaluated, and what will happen if things are not working in the coaching relationship). Focus on the substance of the coaching rather than the feel-good factor.
  • The exact costs – make sure you know what you are paying for (e.g. are email and other forms of contact included in the price?) and the start and end date of the coaching.

Have a test run

Make sure that you work with the coach, so you can experience their coaching style and approach before signing up to a full programme. Some coaches offer free introductory sessions, or deliver group which you may have an opportunity to sit in on for free or a small fee. Otherwise, negotiate a price for one introductory session.

If at all possible make sure that you have an introductory session with at least two other coaches – in order that you have a better idea of the range of styles and approaches that people bring to coaching and can make an informed choice of which coach you would like to work with.