Creating a great coaching relationship

Ask a coach, what’s the ‘secret sauce’ or ingredient X in successfully coaching a client towards their goals and most will tell you: the relationship between coach and coachee.

Okay, that’s not exactly unexpected for a development process that depends on action-oriented talking and reflection between two people. However, despite the importance of the coaching relationship, there has been very little research or discussion of exactly how coaches go about building their all-important relationships.

Good news then, that Elizabeth Crosse’s paper ‘A Q Methodology Study: How Do Coaches Foster the Coaching Relationship?’ (published in the International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring) does just that. For all those coaches (internal and external), coach mentors and supervisors, Elizabeth will be running a one-day workshop for Maximum Coaching in February, delving into the Relationship Style Framework outlined in her paper. This blog post is a brief appetite-whetter for anyone who wants to understand and create better coaching relationships.

The Relationship Style Framework

Research participants (coaches) were asked their views and priorities on different factors in the coaching relationship, including building a ‘working alliance’, the balance of power, collaboration, goal-setting, trust, building rapport and, ultimately, how the relationship changes over time. Their responses resulted in a framework that encompasses four key perspectives on the coaching relationship, identifying four distinct styles or approaches.

  1. Equality and Exploration – Focused on exploring how the coaching relationship affects the coaching objectives, based on a process of increasing awareness and an understanding that coach and coachee are equally responsible for the relationship.
  2. Supportively Connecting – Places the relationship before everything else, relying on it as the foundation on which the coaching is carried out. By providing acceptance, the emphasis is on interpersonal connections and a safe environment.
  3. Pragmatic and Professional – The client or coachee’s issues are central with the coach’s role based on examining and reflecting on those issues. With a  focus on process and facilitating outcomes, the coach builds the relationship as a ‘credible professional’.
  4. Empathic and Consultative – Positivity (fun, even) is seen as key and stems from careful listening and understanding of the coachee. The central tenet is to be helpful, placing emotional support at the centre of a structured coaching process and framework.

Using the Framework

Yes, each coach will have their own preferred style from the Framework, the one which best fits their own personality and preferences. But a key benefit of the Framework is that it is a lens through which a coach can better understand the client’s preferences and attitudes, and guide the coaching relationship.

In other words, you have your own way of coaching but the question is, Is your way the best fit for your client’s needs? And if not, how do you recalibrate your approach?

Naturally, this is only the briefest headline of the contents of the Relationship Style Framework. For more detail – and to explore how to use the Framework in practice – the workshop How to create great coaching relationships takes place on 16 June 2020, between 9:30am-4:30pm. You can book a place here, or if you just want to know more about what we offer on coaching, give us a call on 01582 714280 – we’re here to help.

Categories: Coaching

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