Coaching is a 1-1 process that helps individuals think through their options in relation to a range of situations they may be facing. It is also a confidential and voluntary process, involvingup to 4 meetings over a period of 3-6 months.

Who is your coach?

  • A trained member of Graduate School staff
  • Someone who comes from a different part of College and will have no prior knowledge of you, doesn’t know your area, colleagues, or context
  • Usually someone who doesn’t have technical expertise in your field
  • Someone who will support you in generating your own solutions and taking responsibility for actions, rather than giving advice
  • Someone who will bring a range of approaches, tools and interventions to the conversation

How will your coach work with you?

Coaches use a combination of observation, high quality questioning, effective listening and constructive challenge to create a conversation designed to support your thinking and action-planning. The coach will:

  • Be empathic, focused and non-judgemental
  • Listen with a quality of attention that you will rarely find elsewhere, to understand what you think and how you experience the world
  • Reflect back to you in an way that helps you gain clarity
  • Encourage you to rise to challenges, overcome obstacles and take action

For the coaching to be successful you, the coachee, need to:

  • Be motivated and committed to the process
  • Come to a coaching session with some idea of what you want to focus on
  • Contribute to conversations openly and honestly
  • Be open-minded and prepared to challenge yourself
  • Set goals and take action

Meeting your coach for the first time

The purpose of this initial coffee meeting is to:

  • Clarify what coaching involves, and how it differs from other forms of support and development
  • Explore what you might like to focus on in coaching sessions
  • Look at the Doctoral Student Coaching Agreement, which outlines our framework for coaching.
  •  Agree the timing and frequency of up to 4 meetings after that. Timing and frequency will be based on what works best for you and your coach.

10 Practical Ideas & Suggestions to Help You Get the Most From Your Coaching

The nature of coaching is that it is a two-way process involving coach and client as equals; the more active a part you take in the process the better the outcomes are likely to be for you.

10 practical ideas and suggestions to help you get the most from your coaching

1. Remember it’s not the coach's responsibility to solve your problems or achieve your goals for you

The coach is there to support, challenge, listen, stimulate, encourage, share feedback and offer anything else they have in their tool kit to help you think better and plan well to make the changes that are important to you. Ultimately you are the one that has responsibility for your own work and life. Your coach will encourage a model of active, adult-adult partnership in coaching rather than anything that suggests you are dependent on your coach.

2. It's up to you to ask your coach to change the way they are coaching you if you feel they could coach you in a better way

Coaches are of course only human, and as such have their own distinct personalities: yet a good coach will be able to flex their style in many ways to suit you, e.g. by being more or less direct/challenging, or by moving at a faster/slower pace. They will be happy for you to make such requests because their aim is to coach as effectively as possible.

3. The coach's job is to ask you for even more than you might normally ask of yourself

Your coach wants the best for you and for this reason will be looking to offer and encourage ‘stretch’ wherever possible. Your coach may well question the limits you set for yourself and encourage the setting of challenging goals and targets.

4. The coach is your success partner, not an accountability service

Coaching will work best for you when you are actively seeking to get the best from yourself and when you take responsibility for your own growth and development.

5. The coaching session in itself is not what gets you results

Ultimately this is down to what you do and how you act after the coaching – what you put into practice. Coaching is there to help you to plan and prepare to get the best out of what you are doing. The value of coaching depends on quality rather than quantity.

6. Talk about what matters most to you

You are not there to conform to any expectation you feel your coach may have of you – least of all are you there to please the coach in any way. Yours is the only agenda that counts and if it is important to you, your coach will work on it with you – whether it relates to feeling more purposeful about your job, more positive about your working relationships or working to reach more of your potential.

7. Be open to seeing things differently

Very frequently, the issues you face are not in themselves the real issues! Often it is the way we see issues and how we think about them that needs to change. Even when some of the issues we face are objectively daunting or difficult challenges, we can use coaching to open ourselves up to new ways of responding to them. Opening your thinking up will open up new possibilities for choice. Your coach can help you identify ways of seeing, thinking and responding that may offer you very different options and approaches.

8. Take charge

You are invited to take charge of the coaching process, to get it focused on what you most want and need. We encourage you to come to each session with a direction in mind, perhaps a list of issues or questions you want to address. Ultimately the more you know what you want out of your coaching the better. Your coach can then work with you to craft really specific and relevant goals for the coaching.

9. Promise what you can deliver

Whilst we encourage stretch and boldness in coaching we also ask you to be mindful of what is realistic and doable in the context of everything you are trying to do. Over-extension can cause anxiety. We encourage you to remain mindful of what you are realistically able to take on as a result of your coaching.

10. Share what you are doing with your coaching

People close to you will see and feel the effect your coaching is having, either directly or indirectly. For some people this will create questions and even concerns about the changes you are making. We would suggest that where possible you are open to others about what you are trying to do via your coaching. This will have the double benefit of including them and reaffirming your commitment to developing as a person and a leader.