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Maximize Your Coaching Experience

Coaching is an investment, and you want to get the most from it.

No two advisors benefit from coaching in the same way or in the same magnitude. It’s truly a partnership between coach and client. Here at Oechsli, we have experienced every coaching result imaginable, from the extremely positive to the extremely negative, and we’ve learned from each one of them. 

A coaching experience I had about 10 years ago sticks with me vividly. I had coached a certain advisor for about a year. Our meetings happened right on schedule. The calls were amicable. He even invited me out to visit and go skiing. Then it happened. He not only ended our professional relationship, he also asked for a full refund on our year’s worth of coaching. I couldn’t believe it. My emotions went from embarrassment (my colleagues knew), to guilt (how did this happen), to anger (this was his fault, not mine). 

In hindsight, there are things we both could have done better. I should have recognized that our calls were interesting but not very productive. He shared story after story, and because it was pleasant, I didn’t intercede. I could have done more to keep him focused.  

For his part, he could have done more to execute on our recommendations. His storytelling was likely a cover-up for his inaction, helping him avoid the discomfort that certain marketing recommendations represent. I also think he could have been more forthright that my coaching wasn’t meeting his expectations.

While our negative outcomes are sometimes the most memorable, it’s worth noting that most of our coaching experiences are actually really good. Our recent Coaching Impact Study showed that our clients brought in an average of 16 new clients and $17 million in new assets last year. Ninety-six percent said that coaching improved their sales skills.

Part of this stems from the fact we spend a lot of time training our coaches on how to create the best possible coaching outcomes. We also try to educate our clients on what they can do to make the coaching experience worthwhile. I thought it might be helpful to share some of those recommendations with you. After all, coaching is an investment, and you want to get the most from it. Here are my top six “musts” if you want to thrive with a coach:

  1. Be Prepared for Each Coaching Session—Come to each meeting with questions, situational issues and major accomplishments you would like to discuss.
  2. Expand Your Comfort Zone—Your coach will likely ask you to perform some activities that may stretch your current comfort zone. See this as a positive, take action and it will help you grow. 
  3. Embrace Accountability—Hold yourself to a high standard and let your coach do the same. Strive for 100% adherence to your commitments.
  4. Communicate—Tell your coach exactly what you expect from the coaching relationship. Coaches need feedback from their clients to mix the proper amount of instruction, accountability and support.
  5. Drastically Change Your Behavior—Studies have shown that dramatic, sweeping change is actually easier to embrace than smaller, incremental changes.
  6. Involve Your Support Personnel—This is a team effort, even if it’s just you and a shared support person. Everyone needs to be included at times to make certain that all aspects of your practice are operating at a high level.

The most effective coaching occurs when your coach feels like a part of your team. It’s a personal and professional connection that takes time to develop, but is critical in helping you make meaningful changes to your business.  

 Stephen Boswell is a partner with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell

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