Coaching and Mentoring Paperwork and Keeping Notes
Like any profession, coaching and mentoring is not exempt from the need to maintain paperwork and notes, thankfully there is little and there is learning for all in that which is created and used – there is a purpose to it!
Most paperwork associated with coaching is created by the Coach during and after the coaching sessions:
Coaching notes – made during the session to capture key messages, words, language and themes, enabling the coach to remind themselves and draw the notes back into the conversation. Most coaches will have some form of dedicated coaching notebook to capture sessions, notes, and coaching hours.
A coach’s approach to note taking is a matter of personal preference. It is unlikely that a coach will be able to remember for any period of time the exact nature of the content and discussions of all their sessions. Keeping notes in brief, long hand or through mind mapping is valuable to support the learner and for the coaches reflective learning.
Reflection sheets – these capture the learning the coach might do after the coaching session. Consisting of valuable questions use, areas where they felt uncomfortable or had their values internally challenged. Identifying development areas and areas of focus for the next session. Coaches might subsequently use these in their supervision time.
Question or Model notes – some coaches will capture effective questions and styles in a separate note pad for subsequent reflection and use. During continued professional development if tools or other models are identified, these may also be captured in the notepad.
Coaching Contract – sometimes coaches will adopt a formal written contract, which will be used and signed by the learner and coach, both will keep a copy. This is something that should be periodically reviewed to ensure it is up to date reflecting any changes in governing body best practices.
Coaching and Mentoring Hours – a coach’s ability is partly measured by the number of coaching hours they have completed with learners. Keeping a log of the hours and topic areas will provide some evidence of ability and experience. Removing the names of any learner will mean that they are not subject to the same storage and disposal criteria.
Assessments – coaches may use assessments or questionnaires with their learner to develop their self-awareness, identify their natural preferences or leadership styles. Once completed they should remain with the learner for their reference.
Organisations might keep broader information around coaching:
- List of organisational coaches
- Biographies of coaches to aid matching of learners to coaches
- Organisational introduction to coaching for prospective learners
- E-learning support resources and online forms
Any documentation created during the coaching relationship should be kept in a secure location in line with organisational practices, and destroyed subsequently.
Learners should be encouraged to do their own research on coaching and also their goal area, all of which can be kept in a separate notepad. Separating work note taking from coaching note taking fulfils both a symbolic and psychological need, also ensuring that all coaching session notes will be kept together.
For the learner they can take whatever notes they care to that will enable their learning and development. Capturing agreed ‘homework’ is essential to enable the learner to practice and capture feedback.
The coach should encourage the learner to be as free and creative in capturing information as they wish – mind maps, drawings, tables, doodling and process diagrams can all be considered.
Coach training diaries
As part of the training process some coaches might be asked to keep a coaching diary which may incorporate a coaching session planning area, a notes section, reflection sheets and development plans. All information will then be in one place, especially useful for evidencing for gaining coaching qualifications.