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Coaching 101: What to Expect (When You're Expecting a Coach)

So you’ve signed the contract, and you’re ready for that very first, very nerve-racking, very unsure-of-what’s-gonna-happen coaching session. We’ve put together a few things to help you set your expectations and prepare for a new season of coaching with Arabona.


People find us in different ways. You may have heard of Arabona from a friend at a networking event, or our website could have popped in one of your Google searches. Perhaps you stumbled upon one of our videos while browsing Facebook. Or maybe you heard about Arabona from someone within your own company. No matter how you ended up here, this post will give you a little insight into the behind-the-scenes of coaching so you can know what to expect.

By the time you sign a contract, we’ve likely had multiple touchpoints. Each coaching relationship is unique, so we design personalized coaching packages for each of our coaching clients. We do consultation calls and follow-ups to make sure we can come up with a great fit. We also do our best to get to know each of our clients a little bit before coaching officially begins. This might look like a quick e-mail, a phone call, or even an impromptu check-in at a coffee shop. Once you’re officially on board, we’ll send you a Welcome Packet. This will include some more information on how to prepare for your first coaching session, as well as a gift picked out just for you! This will all happen before your first official session. That way, when it’s time to get moving, you’re already familiar with your coach, so you can feel more comfortable getting things done.

So what are 1-on-1 coaching sessions like?

Place & Time

As you may have guessed, coaching involves two people: YOU and your coach. The two of you will meet at the location and time you agreed on. We believe consistency is key! We’ve had coaching sessions at offices, business clubs, coffee shops, and even virtually via phone/video. Some of our clients prefer to talk over the phone, others want us to meet at their work, while still others feel most comfortable at a laid back coffee shop. Most of our coaching sessions last 30-60 minutes, and we typically meet 2-4 times per month. Coaching relationships vary in length, but we recommend 3-12 months, depending on what goals you want to accomplish.

The Basics

Coaching sessions aren’t scary. In fact, we keep our coaching sessions low-key, non-threatening, and non-judgmental. When it comes to coaching, we meet you where you’re at. It doesn’t matter if you’re a world-class leader or a first-time manager; we always start right where you’re at. We will be curious and caring, always wanting to see the full picture to really understand where you’re coming from. We will be honest, up-front, clear, and bold in giving you feedback and insight, but we will never be mean, harsh, or mean-spirited.

That being said, it’s important that you know this: coaching is hard! It takes a lot of work and intentionality. It isn’t an easy-as-pie quick-fix to instantly transform you into a super-leader. (Although, wouldn't that be cool!?) You may not be the one investing the money, but you will most definitely need to invest time and energy.

Every now and again we get a client who thinks simply showing up to a coaching session will help them improve. Unfortunately, that is just not true. If you want to see real results, you need to put in real effort. Coaching requires both the coach and the participant to work hard.

During the Session

Each coaching session has a similar structure, but the content will vary based on what problem you’re tackling or what goal you’re trying to reach at the time. In any case, you will meet with your coach at the time and place specified in your coaching package. Your session will start with a quick check-in to see how you are doing and to follow up on your progress from the previous week. This is just one of the ways your coach will keep you accountable, and make sure you continue on a path of learning and growth.

After this, your coach will likely ask you what you want to focus on that day. Most weeks, you’ll continue working on an ongoing challenge, but you will always have the option to bring other pressing matters to the table. Remember, the coaching session is about YOU, so you always have the freedom to voice what matters to you that day.

Most of your session will happen in conversation-style where your coach will ask you questions or give you prompts to think through. Remember, your coach isn’t there to give you pre-packaged answers. Coaching is a tool, not an encyclopedia. (Who uses those anymore, anyway?) You still have to do the work. Your coach will provide the necessary guidance, resources, and support, but only YOU can make the necessary changes.

Here are some others things you can expect from your coach:

  • Your coach will come alongside you to help you raise your self-awareness, reveal blind-spots, break old habits, solve problems, and come up with new ways of thinking.

  • Your coach will stretch you, challenge you, and sometimes confront you, but always from a supportive position of service.

  • Your coach will provide various perspectives or sometimes repeat/summarize what you just said to help you achieve clarity.

  • Your coach will offer perspective on what he/she observes. This might be a certain tone in your voice, a sense of fear or a pattern you hadn’t noticed. This helps increase your self-awareness, and it gives you an opportunity to address these. (Don’t worry – we will not make you face things you’re not ready for.)

  • Your coach will be kind to you and work with you as an equal towards your success.

  • Your coach will be patient, honest, and non-judgmental.

  • Your coach will believe in you and your ability to succeed. (Really, truly believe.)

Here are a few things YOU should do to make the most out of each coaching session:

  • Be open and honest – both with yourself and with your coach. If something seems impossible or if you’re discouraged, just say it! And if you’re over-the-moon happy with the progress you’ve been making, share it with your coach! (It’s okay to brag a little!)

  • Before each coaching session, spend some time thinking about what you want to address and accomplish during the meeting. Remember, coaching is about YOU, so say what matters to you.

  • Go to every session prepared, focused, and on time. If you feel stressed or disorganized, you won’t benefit as much from the meeting with your coach. We recommend taking 5-10 minutes before each coaching session to wind down and get focused on the upcoming session. (Life gets hectic. We know it. But getting focused is so important! Get your favorite latte, put on your favorite jam, and take some you-time to get away from busyness.)

  • Keep notes during coaching sessions. This will help you record your thoughts (and ideas!), improve your awareness, follow your progress, and keep track of any “homework.”

  • Spend 10 minutes after each meeting to process what you just talked about. Write down any additional thoughts and plan for your next steps. Even though your coach may have already left, these last few minutes of reflection can make a huge difference.

  • Communicate. Always tell your coach if something was particularly great, just average or truly horrendous. Your coach is there for you, so your feedback is crucial in making your coaching sessions the best they can be.

Between Sessions

Since coaching isn’t a one-and-done process, your coach will be available for quick follow-ups between your sessions too. Remember, you coach is dedicated to your success, so don’t be a stranger! Even if you just had a coaching session, you are always free to send a quick e-mail to your coach to ask for feedback, seek accountability, or even just to get a fresh dose of encouragement before a stressful meeting.

These in-between-times are also crucial to your growth. In fact, most of the growth you experience will happen at this time. After all, a one-hour coaching session alone isn’t going to change your life. If you truly want to benefit from coaching, you’ve got to pour in the time and energy into your growth every day. (And if you don’t – fear not. Your coach will come after you and keep you accountable. :-) )

More questions about coaching sessions? Send us an e-mail at and let us know!

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