Personal Coaching

If you discover during a one-on-one meeting an issue you want to discuss with somebody that doesn’t fit into the 10 minutes allocated to one-on-ones, you can request another VSHNeer or an external coach (PeopleOps can book one for you free of charge) for a personal coaching session.

Structure

  • The default duration is one hour.

  • The VSHNeers Delegate Circle has a list of volunteer VSHNeer coaches ready to talk to. Just ping one of the coaches over e-mail or chat, and schedule a one hour session. By the way, this coaching group of VSHNeers is open to anyone and everyone to join.

  • Following meetings best practices, set an agenda of topics to talk about. These could range from professional growth, requests of mentorship, to more personal topics, and everything in between, usually related to our day-to-day life in VSHN.

  • Talking is cathartic; even if the session seems fruitless, that’s OK. Talking about problems is the first step towards the solution.

  • It’s not the role of the coach to solve the problems for the coachee, but rather, if possible, to guide them in the right direction.

  • Coaching sessions aren’t status updates about projects or customers. They’re about specific personal situations, which might or might not be work-related, but have a direct impact in our happiness or productivity.

Typical Subjects

The following is a typical list of subjects (by no means exhaustive) to talk about during coaching sessions:

  • Personal issues that have a direct effect in work.

  • Professional goals: growth, change, etc.

  • Requesting for advice about certifications, trainings, etc.

  • Voicing out unspoken issues that for any reason would not be shared in a team setting (for example, during a team retrospective.)

  • Conflicts between team and personal goals.

  • Impediments or conflicts blocking people to achieve their goals or do their work.

Tips for Coachees

  • It’s very important to have clear expectations.

  • Contact your coach for availability, and send a meeting request with a concrete time and agenda for the meeting.

  • It’s usually recommended to talk to a coach who isn’t working in the same team or job as you, so that you can get a different perspective about the issue at hand.

  • Furthermore it could absolutely make sense to consider a member of the management or one of the founders of VSHN for a coaching session. This can be very helpful to understand why some things are how they’re (history, business, etc.) and to give management a deeper insight into what’s bothering you.

  • Think about the discussion beforehand, and write down the main points of the conversation. Use those notes during the coaching session.

  • During the meeting, be open and share as much as possible of the problem at hand. It’s OK to be emotional about some subjects. You should feel safe at all times.

  • Drive the meeting towards your goals, whatever they might be. Make specific questions, and repeat them if the answer wasn’t clear or satisfactory.

  • Remember that the coach won’t solve the issue at hand; they can, at most, provide some of their own previous experiences or guidelines for you to solve it.

  • If you feel like it, request a follow-up session a few months later.

  • It’s OK to stop a coaching session before the scheduled end of the meeting if it’s not going in the direction you expected or if all your topics have been addressed.

  • Above all, be kind to the coach. We’re human after all.

Tips for Coaches

  • Above all, be kind to the coachee. We’re human after all.

  • Show empathy. Mean it. Expect to learn.

  • You’ve been approached for a reason. Your attitude can make or break the meeting. Make it worthy.

  • If possible, meet in confidential space somewhere outside the office, like a park or a café. A change of scenery can be of great help. But make sure for the environment to be confidential for the coachee to be able to open up.

  • Remember the 80–20 rule: only speak 20%, and listen 80% of the time.

  • Listen carefully; leave your smartphone and your laptop in your desk, and pay attention to what you’re being told. Take notes if that can help.

  • Focus on the issue at hand; particularly if you work closely with the other person, don’t let the day-to-day routine into the meeting. Concentrate your efforts in the person and the problem at hand.

  • Treat any information shared by the coachee with confidentiality and respect.

  • Have a bit of thick skin. Some of the feedback from the coachee you’ll get might be negative, but understand the context and request for more information if needed.

  • Open the door to a follow-up session a few months later.

  • If required, and if the coachee agrees, get in touch with PeopleOps after the coaching session.