The 1:1 coaching process falls into five discrete, but interlinked and interdependent phases, outlined below.

Contracting and Planning

Coach and client need to be comfortable and confident in their relationship – this is assessed during a 1:1 meeting between them to ensure that both are comfortable with the ‘chemistry’ between them and that boundaries of confidentiality are understood. A key part of the coaching process is triangulating the relationship between the coach, client and organisation. This is done by the coach discussing the purpose and expectations from the coaching with a sponsor – usually the client’s line manager or boss. This ensures that there is alignment in the coaching.


The second stage of the process is to go through a diagnostic procedure. In a standard coaching programme, this is covered through a structured interview which falls into two parts but which can also include data held by the organisation, such as the outcomes of appraisals, 360 processes or assessments. If the client hasn’t undergone a 360 appraisal, this can be done by a series of interviews by the coach of the client’s key stakeholders. Additionally, various psychometric instruments can be used to obtain further insights for the client and coach.

Agenda Setting

The outputs of the diagnosis and the initial conversation with the sponsor are distilled into a focused agenda which usually consists of 4-6 key points. The client and coach set SMART objectives against each of these points; articulate with the client what successful outcomes look like; agree milestones for the achievement of the objectives and clarify what the business benefit is of each of these points being addressed. This agenda provides focus to the subsequent coaching sessions.

Focused Development

Client and coach meet on a regular basis, normally once every 4-5 weeks for 1½-2 hours at a time to discuss the coaching agenda. Discussions focus on “real time” issues for the client and usually begin with a review of actions agreed at the previous meeting and end with a further set of actions for the client to undertake prior to the following meeting. Normally, coach and client would contract for a set of 6 meetings and (optional) review points with the sponsor would be set following on from the 3rd and 6th meetings.

In addition to these face to face meetings, the coach is available to the client on an unlimited basis during the period of the programme for contact by email, phone or other communication media.


In addition to the (optional) interim review after 3 sessions, there is a formal review at the end of the final session with the sponsor. At this point the coaching agenda is reviewed and a discussion takes place to establish whether the objectives were achieved. Part of this review process also considers the effectiveness of the coach during the course of the process.