Monday, February 25, 2013

Time management for the coach

Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 by International Coach Federation

One of the key areas of concern that will often raise a question to existing coaches is that of time management.

I will cover this in a number of ways today that I hope you find useful and that you can start to apply to your own practice and client work.

Firstly a start up question I would like to ask you is

Do you have “enough” time or are you spending time avoiding what you don't like or feel confident in?

How can you change this?

So, now we turn our attention to the actual session of coaching.

I have often found that this an area that can raise different arenas of challenge for coaches.

It may be that you find sessions are overrunning in terms of time. Initially you have set a time slot for your coaching, whether that be an hour or thereabouts and you see that the session has overrun substantially.

What has led to this?

I see that at times clients will want to share what is on their mind and want to off load and talk. This is useful but at times can also create a question mark for you as the coach. When do you start to coach them and bring them back on track?

Firstly how is allowing them to “talk” useful to them without you needing to create the next steps or an action plan.

Framing the session and setting the scene

When I meet clients I will have already established through an initial discovery session why they have come to me for coaching, and what they are looking to gain from this, so that the actual time spent with my client in the first session is focused on the desire change.

I also say that “ today we have an hour – what is it you would like to gain from todays session?”

This sets the scene and also enables a focus on time up front. I have found this very useful when working with clients.

Checking in

Rapport and connection is very important within coaching and by always checking the time can not only break rapport but also be quite irritating for clients!

That said, it is important to keep track of where you are and what time you have left.

Not only for you but also the client may have further appointments after your time together in the session.

A watch placed to the side of you whilst you coach can be useful. If you are using a mobile phone make sure it is switched to silent! This also sets the boundaries and focus of the session in terms of time.

Emotions and time

How are these linked?

In my experience of transformational coaching I have sometimes observed that as the session is drawing to a close the client will bring to the coaching table an emotional subject that means the most to them.

At first I wondered what I wasn't doing properly or to the best effect. When I questioned this I realised that clients could also be avoiding the most “emotional” areas of their life and throwing it in at the last minute.

How do you do you deal with this?

I would firstly acknowledge it and not just “ignore” it but also say that today this isn’t something that can be explored or resolved but that you are very happy to bring this into the next session.

You may want to also explore why this was not brought up earlier? This can prove very useful for clients to link this to deeper levels of meaning and provide great coaching material for future sessions.

Managing your own time

Prepare for your session – both practically and emotionally.

Don't allow time pressures to creep up and before you know it you are rushing around trying to get things ready for your session.

Coaching slots

If you are working maybe full or part time alongside building a coaching practice then you may want to allocate a coaching day or evening rather than be available whenever you are asked from clients – this can also look good from a scarcity point of view and showing that you have clients on going.

Time for you

Part of being a coach is to help people in their lives. Whatever this means to them. As in other fields of work that involve helping others do allow time to do what you enjoy that will give your life balance and fulfilment. Whatever that means to you.

Paul Kensett is Head of Training and Mentoring within the Smart School. He delivers the Personal Transformation Coaching programme to student life coaches. Learn more: and


  1. I particulalrly like asking questions like - what is it you would like to gain from todays session? its shifts the ownership of setting the context from the coach to a shared goal.

  2. I think bold coaching to a business should create the sense of "what matters most, first" And that implies COURAGE.

    Aim what is importante and causes fear at start as an habit on the trainee. If not as a first part of the session, at least no the last one. Donald Trump would never let a businessman of his to avoid any issue.

    Whatever causes fear to a trainee is an area that will cause serious trouble in real life to the business. It is also were there is more to learn.

    "Overcoming fear" and disipating it is a FIRST ATTITUDE and a MUST to anything achievable and worthy.

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  4. Soft coaching might be felt as a "friend" in contrast to bold coaching. The first leans toward consultancy while the second more to development.

    The coach should know how to win his trainee confidence, trust and honesty to express clearly, wildly and openly to him his fears, so they come out first in a session. As they are NEEDS ON IMPROOVEMENT.

    If they turn out to be "last minute issues" 2 times in a row, that attitude must be shutted down or teaked.


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