Is Workplace Coaching Personal?

Harvard Business Review stated than 76% of the time in executive coaching personal issues do come up.  What happens when the coach addresses the whole person and asks personal questions in the beginning to get the big picture?  What happens when the focus is only on work?  Explore the pros and cons.

Work Only Focus –


  • A clear purpose for the coaching
  • Easy to jump in
  • Minimizes risk – especially around confidentiality


  • May miss influencing factors
  • May minimize full engagement of coachee and of the coach
  • Limits understanding

Whole-person Focus –


  • Provides a complete understanding of the coachee
  • Opens the door to explore influencing factors
  • Provides insight for a coachee-focused relationship


  • Coachee may hesitate to share personal information
  • Coachee may be uncomfortable discussing the impact of personal issues on their work
  • Coachee fears around confidentiality may limit conversation

How do you decide approach?  For perspective, consider these possibilities:

  • The coaching session questionnaires provided to Certified Professional Coaches by the Center for Coaching Certification during class include an opening session that explores all areas and then later moves to focusing on top priorities with the idea that in the workplace the top priorities are job-focused.
  • An alternative is to move directly to the coaching sessions wherein the focus is on the top priorities.
  • An additional option is rather than the coach deciding, give the options to the coachee along with the pros and cons and give them the choice.

Which option do you prefer?

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