Ladies having a conversation

What To Expect In Your First Coaching Session

November 9, 2021

Posted by BOLDLY

Your first coaching session is the exciting beginning of a new journey. It's a journey of personal growth, professional development, self-awareness, feedback, challenge and career-defining insights. So whether you're having two or three coaching sessions or you're starting on a lifelong coaching relationship, there's a few things you can expect from this very first meeting. 


This isn't the legal contracting for the coaching engagement. This is the expectation setting conversation that you and a coach will have to understand each other's roles, styles, boundaries, and how to best work with each other. The coach will want to understand your high-level work history, and any mental health challenges you’ve experienced. You should agree to the level of confidentiality in your conversations, and under what circumstances that would be broken. This is an important discussion, which you might find yourself calling back to through the course of the coaching engagement. It’s only once you’re underway together that you’ll know which parts of your ‘contract’ together were going to become relevant. So while you might be eager to jump into your goal setting, make sure you take the time to have this conversation properly with your coach! This becomes ‘the rules of the engagement’ as you progress to work together. 

Rapport Building

Through sharing and disclosing about your career hopes and feedback you’re receiving, you’ll start to build your relationship with your coach, and come to know how you can best collaborate and communicate. The rapport between you should ideally be friendly, but with some challenge or ‘tension’ so you’re supported to think differently and critically about your goals and ways of working. Rapport is something that builds over time with trust as you become more familiar with each other, but you’ll find your coach is laying the foundation for your working relationship in this meeting. They should be someone you rely on to help you find solutions to your problems, so coaching will often be tough and tiring! But the relationship itself should be one of positive high regard for each other.

Initial Goal Setting

While your goals may develop and evolve over time, you’ll use part of this session to start exploring your high level goals, and your immediate objectives. Don’t rush this part - it might seem like the coach is exploring and probing your goals a lot, even interrogating them! This is part of teasing out a strong, important, relevant goal for you, and laying the groundwork to ensure it’s measurable and actionable. It’s worth considering what type of goal you have - is it personal or professional or both? Is it a performance goal, or a mastery goal? Is it an approach goal or an avoidance goal? Your coach will help you to understand more about the type of goal you have, how to ensure it’s rooted in your values, and how it should cascade down into your daily habits and decisions. 

Meeting Rhythm & Homework!

This first meeting might be very practical: making self introductions and confirming session times and ensuring you have the preferred method of contact for each other. Getting the rhythm for your coaching cadence is important - too close together and you don’t have enough time to reflect on and enact your sub-goals, but too far apart and you lose momentum. Depending on your coaching context and objectives, most coaches will recommend a meeting every 2-3 weeks. And while it sounds funny - you should expect homework! Coaching is about finding practical ways to develop and enhance yourself, and achieve your goals, so you need to go out and practice! Ensure you have a dedicated notebook or shared digital record of your coaching sessions, so you can capture your to-do list and any important information about what you’re trying to achieve or how you want to experiment with your peers, boss, family, direct reports etc. Homework is how you bring your best intentions into reality, so expect coaching to be very action-oriented right from this first session!

Your first meeting should be productive, and set the scene for your relationship to come. If you come prepared, and ready to engage fully with your coach, they’ll be set up in the best possible position to support you on your development path. Bring an agenda, previous reflections, psychometric reports, feedback from others - it’s all helpful!

Get in touch if you’d like more information about what to expect in your first coaching session. Enjoy the journey!