The Do's and Don'ts of Coaching



  1. Ask open-ended questions- asking yes and no questions will not lead anywhere. The conversation may dwindle to early on and give no context to work off of or goals to work toward if your client doesn’t expand on what they are saying.

    • GOOD- What do you find challenging about that?

      • This leaves the conversation open for your client to speak on challenges and to expand as much as possible. This also may draw out more than one answer.

    • BAD- Do you think that is challenging because of your schedule?

      • Your client may respond yes or no and leave the conversation there. They also may feel as though you are leading them to an answer, causing them to answer favorably. This also does not leave room for them to discover problems or solutions on their own.

  2. Build trust- without a solid foundation of trust, your client will likely not speak freely about issues and areas of improvement.

    • GOOD- be an active listener, don’t judge, ask questions, be empathetic, and focus on your client (meaning don’t get distracted, no one likes meeting with someone who gets distracted by everything in the background and doesn’t make eye contact)

    • BAD- don’t pry into their personal life (unless they want to), don’t socialize (this could be unprofessional and make you seem like you’re always available)

  3. Know that everyone is different- every person may need to be coached in a slightly different way. Remember to be flexible and to tailor your approach so you don’t scare them off or underwhelm them. Using Cloverleaf for Coaches as a tool will prepare you with their preferred style of work, communication, conflict, etc.

    • GOOD- take time to learn how your new client works, as they will likely all be different

    • BAD- jump in with the same attitude every time, as this will be accepted differently by different clients


  1. Tell them what to do- you are not your client, so when they ask you what you would do, change the direction and act as a leader, don’t just give out directions.

    • GOOD-

      • Client: “My manager told me to do x task, but that’s not in my job description, so I didn’t do it. Now we have a meeting on Monday. What would you do?”

      • Coach: “Well, let’s dive deeper into this first. Why do you feel…?”

    • BAD-

      • Client: “My manager told me to do x task, but that’s not in my job description, so I didn’t do it. Now we have a meeting on Monday. What would you do?”

      • Coach: “I would have done…”

  2. Talk more than your client does. You client should never feel like they are in a lecture or being talked at. So make sure you are asking questions to guide the conversations, but they should be talking the majority of the time. Be an active listener and ask follow-up questions. This will allow them to be comfortable with you and reveal underlying issues they are having.

  3. Talk to someone about another client’s issues without permission. You should never be talking about Sally’s work issues with Ryan to coach him on what he is going through, it is not right. But, you can pull the same coaching tools from different experiences and use them across clients, but this serves solely as a tool in your backpack. If a client goes through a certain issue that you feel would serve as a good example, ASK them for permission before you do. If they say no, respect that.

Cassidy Brengartner