Coaches, like everyone else, are suffocating in a world of push notifications, social media noise, and 101 things they need to get done now.
So, as your coaching practice matures and you work with a growing client base, it will become harder to keep track of each client.
The solution is to write things down. Taking notes during various stages of your coaching engagement will let you easily recall the information when needed.
Is It Important To Write Notes in Coaching?
It is critical for a coach to take notes throughout the coaching journey, both for the benefit of the coach and the client.
- Discovery Sessions: A discovery session is our very first detailed meeting with the client. We discover their goals, values, needs, strengths, and motivators. We also get a sense of their working style and preferred communication methods.
- Ongoing Sessions: During each session, we learn more about the client. How strong is their inner critic voice? What are the recurring themes in each session? As we get to know the client, it’s important to note down what we’re learning.
- Reflective Practitioner: As coaches, we know that growth is always possible. So, it’s important to reflect on each coaching session to develop your skills as a coach. You can reflect on how the session went, what you could have done differently, and what you learned about yourself.
How To Write Effective Coaching Notes
- Prepare ahead of the meeting — You need to know the format of your notes and what information you’re looking for in advance. This will make it easier to grasp this information during the session.
- Take minimal notes during the session — Most beginner coaches take detailed notes during each client session. But you will notice that this takes away your attention, and you may miss some of the nonverbal cues from the client. Your client may also feel less heard because eye contact will be less. I, too, started off this way. But now, I only write down the coaching agreement for the session in a sentence or two.
- After the session, write detailed notes — Immediately after a session, I take a quick break. But within two hours of the session, I get my notes down. If you wait too long, you may forget how the session went and how you felt during the interaction.
- Read notes from the previous session before the upcoming session — Taking a quick look at your notes before a client session gives you a refresher on what the client committed to doing at the last session. You also get into the client’s “zone” by revisiting their profile before the session.
Coaching Session Notes: 3 Examples
The purpose of a discovery questionnaire is to get to know the client better and clarify what they need from the coaching relationship.
You can take notes during the discovery session to clarify your client’s goals, strengths, and values (Source: Author’s coaching practice)
Every coach should take notes after each coaching session to keep track of the conversation and document what you’re learning about the client.
Coaching session notes can be organized into different sections to capture what you’re learning from the client in each session (Source: Author’s coaching practice)
Your coaching can only improve if you observe how you’re doing as a coach and identify what skills you need to work on.
Observing the skills you used in each coaching session helps identify growth areas for the coach (Source: Author’s coaching practice)
5 Helpful Templates For Coaches
- Personal Information Fact Sheet: This free template lists all the personal information you need to know about a client. The list covers information that you may need in an emergency as well.
- Client Profile: This template digs deeper and explores the client’s goals, dreams, disappointments, and motivators. The form also collects information on what the client expects from the coaching relationship and how best to hold them accountable.
- Individual Client Interview: Do you want to get to know a client’s innermost needs and values? But you don’t want to add to their busy schedules by sending a double-paged questionnaire. You can use this short interview form to get to know what their hearts beat for.
- Intake Session Checklist: When you have an intake session with a client, it’s important to go in with a checklist, so you don’t miss out on any information. This checklist will prompt you to discuss the coaching process, payments, frequency of sessions, and other logistics.
- Coaching Preparation Form: When coachees prepare for coaching sessions in advance, they get the best out of the session because we won’t have to spend too much time on the focus for the session. This form allows the client to reflect on their current situation and what they want out of the coaching session.
Best Way To Write & Document Your Notes
- Only the essentials: Taking down too many details is time-consuming and may not be effective in the end. So, you need to figure out what information is critical to the completion of the coaching engagement.
- Link to each client: Client notes should always be attached to the client. Meaning, you can maintain one Word document or Excel sheet for all information and notes about that client.
- Set format vs. free flow: Freeform notes are hard to read and may not be the most effective. When you have a set format, you consistently look for the same information during all client sessions.
- Electronic form: I know coaches who still take notes in a physical notebook. This information is hard to read, search, and retrieve. So, why not take notes electronically and make your life easier?
- Folders for clients: You should also have a folder system for each client. I have high-level folders for categories of clients, e.g., career, life, leadership, etc. Under each category, I have a folder for each client that falls into these categories.
We at Quenza are on the journey of helping you solve your coaching struggles. Client Notes in the Quenza platform can help you take efficient notes for yourself and your clients.
6 Unique Features For Coaches in Quenza
This is a form builder that you can use to create activities and reflection exercises for your clients.
Activities will serve as reminders between coaching sessions to keep your clients engaged.
Quenza has a library of pre-built activities that you can easily reuse for your clients.
Coaching experts have designed these activities. So, you don’t have to worry about the quality of the expansions library.
A pathway is a collection of activities that can be scheduled to be sent to clients at predetermined intervals.
All clients receive coaching agreements, intake questionnaires, and discovery exercises. You can create a pathway to automate the sending of all these documents via Quenza.
Many clients can be motivated by measuring their habits and progress. The Quenza tracking feature will be introduced in Q3 of 2021, and the functionality will use a visual graph to demonstrate client progress.
At times, clients want to chat with their coaches when questions come up. Clients may also want to access you if they’ve had a particularly stressful day.
The client chat feature on Quenza lets you securely interact with your clients. The feature can be enabled at a client level.
Wheel of Life
Most coaches use the Wheel of Life at the beginning of a coaching engagement to recognize areas that the client wants to work on.
The Quenza Wheel of Life Expansion has the following domains to create the wheel: partner, learning, money, recreation, career, health, environment, community, friend, and family.
If you want to create a customizable assessment for your clients, take a look at our step-by-step guide and suggestions: The Ultimate Wheel of Life Template For Coaching [+ PDF]
Although taking coaching notes can initially seem like a task that takes too much time, the benefits of effective notes far outweigh the time you spend on them.
When you get into the habit of taking notes, you will find it easier to recall information and patterns unique to the client. Clients will also get the best value out of your coaching.
Streamlining the process of taking notes using a tool like Quenza will allow you to take and retrieve notes without too much effort.