Do business, life, and executive coaches take notes? Recently a discussion on LinkedIn had many opinions and reasons either for or against note-taking. Some believe that taking notes interferes with really listening while others believe note-taking assists with listening. Some believe notes create a potential for violating confidentiality. Others find that notes are an important tool for effective coaching. Many commented on how notes are taken.
What are the tips for effective note-taking? Write only the key points and key words. What does this mean? If a client is talking about a problem and what they do not want, listen completely without writing and then ask what they do want and include that in the notes. Rather than writing complete sentences, just jot down the key words so that the focus remains on the client. Write the notes using their words rather than an interpretation for accuracy.
Are there good tools for note-taking? One favorite is MindMapper (www.MindMapper.com) because it allows for ease of movement on the page for notes, ease for re-arranging, and ease of transferring the notes to an outline in Microsoft Word.
What happens with the notes? The key consideration is confidentiality. This means that if the notes are taken on a company computer there may be limitations to the confidentiality. If taken on a personal computer do ensure the access is protected. Hand-written notes may be easy to keep protected and if the writing is legible some prefer this method. Either way, providing the client with a copy of the notes is often helpful to them for their reference and because the action steps are listed. Releasing notes to anyone other than the client requires obtaining permission from the client first.
Professional business, life, and executive coaches are well-served to consider in advance how notes are taken, where they are kept, and how long they are kept after the coaching relationship is ended.