Coaching Supervision - Transforming Your Coaching Practice

Coaching supervision may still be a relatively new industry, with some mystique surrounding it, however, for coaches who are serious about making a success in this profession, it is both a necessary and worthwhile investment. In this article I explain what coaching supervision is, why you might want to invest in it and some typical topics that supervisees bring to their sessions.

What is Coaching Supervision?

Whether you are a new or seasoned coach, there is a good chance that you are a natural reflective practitioner. Helping clients to reflect on who they are and the impact they have on their performance will be second nature to you and you probably spend time after a coaching session considering your own performance as a coach. But how much juice do you extract from these reflections and do you make the best use of this learning to help you transform the way you work with your clients?

This is where coach supervision can help. With the aid of a professional coach supervisor, who is not directly working with the client, coaching supervision offers the opportunity to reflect on your work as a coach to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and the client's system, and transform your work. It is no coincidence it is called  'super-vision': within a safe and reflective space, incisive questions are offered by an external 'observer' generating new perspectives which provide a sharpened awareness and insight into what is going on as you work with your clients.

5 Great Reasons to Invest in Coaching Supervision

I've worked with numerous excellent supervisors over the course of my career as a coach and latterly as trained coach supervisor and have found that it offers the following:

  • A totally safe place to explore what’s working and what isn’t within your coaching practice. Sometimes we need to reflect on some of the challenges we are facing with individual clients or with organisations so we can serve them better, whilst also  maintaining strict boundaries of confidentiality. It can also be scary to admit to someone else when we feel stuck or things are not going quite as we would like. Supervision provides this non-judgemental place where you are supported in getting curious about what is happening in service of both you as a coach and your clients.It is also an opportunity to examine what is working so you build on success and do more of the same.
  • An opportunity to learn and develop from reflections rather than being crippled by unhelpful self-criticism. Left to our own devices we can get stuck in unhelpful thought patterns that inhibit rather than stimulate learning. Supervision helps you to put unhelpful thoughts aside and effectively reflect on your experiences.
  • An opportunity to explore the psychological dynamics that exist within a client-coach relationship that unconsciously impact upon the way we coach. Often we are not aware of the impact a client or even the culture of an organisation has on us..or the impact we might have on our client. A supervisor can help draw a coach's attention to the underlying influences that impact on the coaching relationship and enable them to be better equipped to work with them.
  • Tailored support from an experienced and confidential partner, particularly when stuck or when applying new approaches. Professionally trained supervisors undergo rigorous training recognised by professional coaching bodies such as the European Mentoring and Coaching Council, International Coach Federation or Association of Coaches and abide by strict codes of conduct. Most professionally trained supervisors have entered the professional after considerable years training and practice as a coach so can also draw on their own experiences to support you.
  • A champion to help you celebrate your strengths and stretch you to achieve more. Sometime just having a colleague you can share your experiences with, celebrate successes with and champion you to stretch yourself more as a coach is a great way to keep you focused and on-track to developing your coaching career.

Typical Examples of Topics brought to Supervision

Below are a selection of topics that are typically brought to coaching supervision:

  • I feel really stuck with a particular client and I don’t know how to work with it
  • I’ve noticed some common themes coming up with my clients and would like to explore this
  • My coaching seems to be going really well at the moment and I’d like to build on that success
  • I feel exhausted after spending a day coaching client within this organisation, and wonder what I need to do
  • My coaching feels ‘stale’ and I want to freshen it up
  • My client has brought a really difficult topic to our conversations and I am wondering whether I am qualified to work with them
  • I am working with a really challenging team and feel out of my depth and want to feel more confident in working with them
  • When I work with a particular team I find myself being drawn into their own ways of behaving which feels uncomfortable…what is going on?
  • My client has decided to stop working with me and I don’t know why, when I thought it was going so well
  • The work I am doing with my client feels more like mentoring than coaching and I would like to explore whether this is OK
  • My client continually misses sessions or arrives late and I’d like to explore how to handle this

And the Results?

Regular reflection on your coaching practice and addressing these question can significantly increase your confidence and competence as a coach, delivering a better experience for you and your clients. Supervision also increases your professional credibility. Many organisations engaging executive and team coaches often ask for credentialed coaches who also undertake coach supervision. This gives reassurance they are hiring coaches who are both skilled and are committed to investing in their own continuous professional development.

What do I do if I am interested in working with a coach supervisor?

The supervisor-supervisee relationship is the foundation for fulfilling and effective coach supervision. Without an easy, trusting relationship, learning cannot take place and growth cannot occur. If you are interested in investing in coach supervision have conversations with several coach supervisors to check out who is the best fit for you.

For a free chemistry session please get in touch.  My contact details are at the top of this page.

Other related articles

Choosing a Coach Supervisor - 8 Questions to Ask

Working With Your Internal Coach Supervisor: Your Important Ally For Impactful Coaching