Top 10 Coaching Tools & Techniques to Use with Clients

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Creating lasting change for your coaching clients requires that you know them and help them know themselves. Through proven coaching tools and techniques, you can create pivotal moments of self-revelation that shift stubborn beliefs and perspectives.

If you’re looking for fresh tools to add to your coaching, you’re in the right place. While some of these tools are great for all clients, others are perfect for stickier issues or to use as alternatives when a client needs something different.

Let’s take a look first at why we need coaching tools.

Why Do You Need Coaching Tools?

The right tools help people accomplish specific objectives related to awareness.

  • Who they are: These tools help them define who they are, including personalities, natural strengths, and skills.
  • What they want: These tools help them become aware of what they want, like identifying their goals and dreams.
  • What they think and feel: These tools help them identify their thoughts, beliefs, and origins.
  • What they do: These tools create self-awareness around behaviors.

Some coaching tools are suitable for use with every client, like self-assessments and goals worksheets. In other cases, you’ll use tools to help with specific issues, like removing ambiguity about a client’s motivation.

As you create your coaching program, select the tools that best meet your objectives.  

1. Personality and Strength Assessments

A personality and strengths assessment when you first take on a new client can be an incredibly helpful coaching tool. Not only can this information help you as you seek to motivate them, but it is also a valuable start for self-acceptance.

Since many assessments fall into this type, let’s divide them into three loosely defined categories.

One of the common criticisms that skeptics have leveled at these types of assessments is that they don’t fall into acceptable ranges for reliability and validity. You’ll often see these called pseudoscience.  

Furthermore, these are self-assessments, meaning the results depend on how clients perceive themselves. Since personal growth, abuse, mental clarity, and hardships can affect how people see themselves, scoring differently from one day to the next is possible.

However, self-perception is incredibly important in coaching, which means these tests are practical. They define language about preferences and strengths, create conversation about self-perception, and build awareness of different personalities.

For example, if your client takes the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) assessment and discovers she is an ISFP (introverted, sensing, feeling, and perceiving) while her mom is an ENTJ (extroverted, intuition, thinking, and judging), it can help her understand the dynamics in their relationship and empathize with her mother.

The ISFP and ENTJ profiles have very different ways of seeing the world
The ISFP and ENTJ profiles have very different ways of seeing the world

2. Journaling

Current scientific studies estimate that only about 5% of what we think is conscious. That means a vast majority of what’s happening in our brains and thinking is below our level of conscious awareness.

As coaches, it’s vital to help clients identify any subconscious or unconscious programming that hinders progress. And journaling is one of the best coaching tools for creating awareness.

Since our autopilots handle so much of our daily functioning, it makes sense to focus our journaling on the topics related to our coaching programs. This helps capture the feelings, thoughts, and core beliefs that can hinder or help your client’s progress.

Here are some methods for doing this.

  • Prompts: Prompt with the same few daily questions for a client to gauge changes.
  • Feeling words: Include descriptive words that help clients identify how they feel.  
  • Rituals: Have clients journal at the same calm time every day.
  • Events: Have clients journal just after a triggering event.
  • Play: Invite clients to tap into their creative minds by doodling, writing a song, or authoring a story or poem. Unhindered play can foster awareness.
  • Mind maps: Let clients brainstorm related ideas that radiate from a central theme. This format can be an alternate way to answer prompts.

Once you find a suitable journaling format for your coaching, you can create a custom journal in Canva. The professionalism of your tool and its value can help clients stay consistent with journaling.

Canva has many journal templates available
Canva has many journal templates available

3. Wheel of Life

The Wheel of Life is a straightforward visual tool that creates an uncomplicated diagram. Clients can use their results to prioritize personal growth.

This activity aims to clarify where clients are and where they want to be in several meaningful life categories. Clients can more easily decide where they want to begin by considering their priorities and seeing their gaps.

Several versions of this tool are available in a variety of categories. That speaks to the adaptability of this tool.

You can adapt it for your coaching program to include the areas of life your coaching influences.

Here are some of the standard categories used.

  • Career or professional life
  • Romantic relationships
  • Friends and family
  • Community
  • Contribution or giving
  • Health, fitness, or energy
  • Finances
  • Personal development
  • Creativity or fun
  • Spirituality

If you want to track your client’s progress, you can use this coaching tool at significant milestones.

In this short video, Coach Ajit from Evercoach explains how to create and use a wheel of life tool in your coaching program.

Step-By-Step Guide to Apply the Wheel of Life in a Session

4. Goals Worksheet

Goals worksheets are effective coaching tools because research shows that people who clearly define their goals tend to accomplish them. When working with clients, writing goals and planning to achieve them can indirectly relate to your income.

Because if you can help clients articulate their goals and plan for them, you’re more likely to receive glowing testimonials and referrals. (In addition to watching them blossom!)

Clients with trouble articulating their goals can benefit from some activities around imagining their dream. One example is an activity where you have them describe their perfect day. You may also refer to their self-assessments to get ideas for the types of dreams common to their personality types.

Once you have a goal, writing it out using the SMART acronym is essential.

What are SMART goals?
What are SMART goals?

You can ask your clients to write their SMART goals into an agreement and use a habit tracker to help clients hold themselves accountable for accomplishing their goals.

5. Appreciative Inquiry’s 5-D Framework

The 5D Framework represents an approach to organizational change called Appreciative Inquiry. In this approach, we search the past for evidence of what we’ve accomplished and figure out what good things we did so we can do more great things.

Let’s look at the five Ds to see how to use this tool in coaching conversations.

  • Define: Clarify the scope of focus to define what the client needs to achieve. For example, a coach may address a client’s fear of speaking in public. Define this in terms of what they desire, like speaking confidently in a quarterly department meeting.
  • Discover: Appreciate the best of what’s happening now. Use questions to recall what’s going well in this area, including successes, strengths, and times when they did well.
  • Dream: Explore what could be. Ask clients to imagine what they’d like to believe about themselves in the future — the bigger and bolder, the better.
  • Design: Propose what should be. Use affirmative statements to describe clear, compelling images based on what is true and what brings life to the client.
  • Destiny: Create what will be. Have the client continue to capture narrative evidence. For example, clients might journal daily and capture stories about when they were confident talking to others or how well their slides conveyed information.

The genius of the 5D Approach is that it helps clients create more of what they do want. Because they focus on what’s working rather than what’s broken, they notice their positive thoughts, behaviors, and conditions.

The Center for Appreciative Inquiry provides more detail about its 5D Model in this video.

6. Five Whys

The Five Whys is an analysis tool that often helps clients uncover hidden thoughts, causes, beliefs, or motivations. This coaching tool is an excellent choice when clients give ambiguous information or offer an “I don’t know.”

For example, a client may not understand the underlying reasons why a director position is an important goal. You discover hidden motivations by asking the first why and continuing to dig.

There is nothing magical about the number five. Your client might experience enlightenment at the third or the eighth. Continue to ask until you feel you’ve arrived at new information.

Let’s walk through an example of a session where a person feels anxious about a potential promotion at work.

Untitled

This Five Whys activity helps us uncover the client’s motivation. It isn’t about the promotion itself but rather responsibility and sacrifice. Identifying deeper motivations is incredibly valuable.

While this tool was originally designed to conduct a root cause analysis in a manufacturing facility, its use in coaching is best suited for discovering hidden motivation and fears.

7. Life Maps

A life map is a timeline where a client reviews their history and marks events from their past that relate to your coaching topic. For example, if you’re coaching about self-acceptance, you might ask them to review their history and identify stories where they felt accepted or rejected by themselves or others.

Using this personal biography, you and the client can explore past events for meaning or reframing with new narratives. For example, a client who felt powerless during a traumatic event at age seven may reframe the event by reassessing and recognizing their power.

This activity can be in the form of a longer document or journal with prompts for every timeframe or you can simplify it to a timeline. Keep the activity as simple as necessary for your needs.

Life maps help us identify and address the stories in our lives
Life maps help us identify and address the stories in our lives

8. Habit Tracker

Anyone working to be 1% better each day knows the power of habits. Habits let us automate tiny, incremental changes to our lives. The logic is that when clients continue to perform the same behavior daily, they can reprogram themselves and obtain improved results.

Humans repeat behaviors based on consequences. That means the effectiveness of creating new habits connects to felt reward and ease.

  • Reward: The more rewarding it feels to complete a behavior, the more likely we’ll repeat it. For example, feeling rewarded by eating a good lunch can make you more likely to repeat it. But if you feel deprived by the diet, it might not stick.
  • Ease: The easier it is to perform a behavior, the more likely it’ll stick. If you sleep in your athletic wear and place your running shoes by the bed, you’ll likely go for a morning run. But you’re less likely if you can’t find your shoes and your track wear is in the washer.

As you help clients establish new habits, help them choose behaviors that feel great and seem easy, then have them track progress using a habit tracker.

Canva has easy-to-use habit-tracking templates. This means you can create a star chart that helps visually track success and make a client feel rewarded.

Many different types of habit trackers are available on Canva
Many different types of habit trackers are available on Canva

9. Schedules and Budgets

Some clients need help with the way they invest their time and money. When clients lack awareness of these two elements, it leads to issues.

You should conduct an audit for clients needing increased awareness of how they spend their money and time. Like Nancy Drew, you can review calendars, receipts, and cell phone location records to track past decisions.

Seeing how they spend their money and time creates awareness and conversation about why they’re making those decisions, what their priorities are, and how they want to spend their time and money. Use that information to help them create a budget or an ideal schedule.

Asking clients to create an ideal schedule can help guide decisions about their time
Asking clients to create an ideal schedule can help guide decisions about their time

10. Quality Questions

We saved these coaching tools for last because they’re extremely valuable. Because isn’t it true that quality questions — those we ask clients and those they learn to ask themselves — make a powerful difference?

Low-quality questions like these can keep clients feeling stuck and reinforce negative self-images.

  • What’s wrong with me?
  • Why am I constantly failing?
  • Why do I even try?

You can coach clients to ask better questions. Support clients by helping them see possibilities rather than disasters. Questions like these are curious and expansive.

  • If I knew what to do, what would I choose?
  • What if this dream is possible?
  • If I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I choose?
  • What is the best outcome for this situation?

Spiritual teacher and author Byron Katie is an example of someone who coaches through the use of four simple questions. She developed a self-inquiry approach of four questions that help free people from the harmful effects of negative thoughts.

The Work by Byron Katie revolves around four questions and a turnaround
The Work by Byron Katie revolves around four questions and a turnaround

Final Thoughts

These coaching tools are only some of those available for coaches of every niche. You may use some tools with every client, like personality or strength assessments, and other tools that help when the client feels stuck.

And consider the coaching platform you choose for your business because some of them, like Upcoach, include effective coaching tools like a habit tracker and to-do list. If accountability is a vital part of your coaching business, choose a platform that captures and tracks the data for you.

Which of these coaching tools was new to you? Which are you most excited to try out? Share your thoughts below!

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