Coaching Yourself

by Melanie Greene

In a nutshell

1. Why should you want to coach yourself?

It is important to identify the benefits that you can obtain through coaching yourself, as this will encourage you to persist with the process. These can include:

  • Increased performance
  • Maintained performance
  • Promotion
  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Fewer problems and an easier, more effective and efficient working life
  • Developing and increasing your skill base
  • Exposing yourself to more experiences
  • Helping yourself to prepare for appraisals, performance management meetings or interviews
  • Career change.


2. When to coach yourself

You can coach yourself in many different situations:

  • After successes, so that you can repeat and build on them
  • Following mistakes and failures, to learn to avoid them in the future
  • In-between times – when your performance is average but you want to improve
  • During challenging times
  • When you feel as if you are coasting
  • When you feel demotivated, dissatisfied
  • Before, during and after other development activities
  • During technical training
  • Preparing for appraisals
  • Preparing for interviews


3. How to coach yourself

This page covers what the actual process involves, for example:

  • Planning out what to do in different situations and then observing how things have gone
  • Realistically and constructively debriefing after events to learn from your successes, mistakes or challenging times.

Self coaching happens in a number of ways:

  • Being proactive and planning ahead
  • Increasing your awareness of your thoughts and feelings
  • Drawing on your own inner wisdom
  • Completing the learning cycle
  • Challenging and being honest with yourself
  • Asking for and using constructive feedback.

You might also want to think about encouraging your team members to coach themselves.


4. The time element

In the long run, coaching yourself can actually save you time as you become more effective and efficient by enhancing your performance.

  • You need to set aside time for reflection, reviewing and planning.
  • Some people do it regularly on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, while others do it in an ad hoc way when the need arises.
  • Choose a time that will not get cancelled in favour of other activities.
  • Stick to it!


5. Tools for self-coaching

Self coaching is not just a matter of thinking over the events of the day, week or month, though this is part of it; there are specific tools you can use that will help to identify and capture the learnings. These include keeping a learning log and using feedback from others:

  • Peer coaching
  • Coaching from your manager
  • Action Learning Sets
  • During a 360 degree feedback process
  • Using real mentors and accessing the wisdom of virtual mentors.


6. Realistic and constructive debriefing

An essential part of coaching yourself is about being able to debrief yourself effectively. Various things can get in the way of this:

  • People can be too harsh on themselves, especially if they have a strong inner critic
  • People are concerned that they will be too soft on themselves
  • People don’t want to revisit events, especially if they have not gone well.

Therefore learning how to debrief in a realistic and constructive fashion is vital and involves asking yourself questions:

  • What went well?
  • What would you do the same another time?
  • What would you do differently?
  • What would someone else have done?
  • What words of advice could you give yourself?


7. Mastering your inner critic

If your inner critic bullies you, emphasising your weaknesses, down-playing your strengths and successes and generally making you feel miserable, this will make it hard for you to effectively coach yourself. However, there are ways of countering your inner critic. These include:

  • Appreciate rather than undermine yourself
  • Visualise your success
  • Use the Transactional Analysis model to listen to all the different parts of yourself, not just your inner critic.


8. Appreciate yourself

If you are feeling negative about yourself and under-confident, or when your inner critic kicks in, you will often find that you are unable to appreciate your strengths and the good things you do. One way to counter this is to make a list of the things you can appreciate about yourself. Your list could include things in and out of work, for example:

  • Getting started on writing the report
  • Running a great meeting on Monday
  • My patience with X
  • Exercising three times this week
  • Making this list.


9. Visualising success

Visualising success is another technique that can assist you in countering your inner critic and in coaching yourself.

  • Looking up will make it difficult for you to access negative thoughts and feelings.
  • Visualising success has been proved to help bring it about.
  • You don’t have to be a visual person to visualise!