Written by:

Jugdeep kaur a/p Lachman Singh

3 November 2019


At the beginning of 2019, I was assigned to a different department within our organization, a department which upskills our staff via training and coaching.  This new assignment required me to develop my coaching knowledge and skills at a professional certification level. Hence, I attended the Certified Associate Coach (CAC) Programme followed by the Certified Professional Coach (CPC) Programme at Corporate Coach Academy.  By attending both programmes consecutively, I learnt how to use the Coaching Milestones and Coaching Protocols to structure and scaffold my coaching sessions for maximum effect.  


This case study is a documentation of a coaching journey which I undertook when I was assigned to support some staff from another department with some work commitments, which helped me to apply the coaching competencies within an authentic context, unlike the contrived practice sessions during training.


This paper will focus on the following:

  1. A brief description of the coaching case
  2. The use of coaching protocols, knowledge and skills
  • Reflections on successes and challenges, and lessons learnt



Department X had communicated that they wanted to design, develop and deliver some finance training modules to the staff of Trust Schools throughout Malaysia depending on school needs. A total of 6 areas had been identified and each area had been assigned to 6 different individuals. One of the 6 individuals, Dana had been given the responsibility to lead the project to ensure the modules were developed as required. She was also the point person for all communication within her team as well as across the various departments involved in module development, formatting and branding.

In this case study, I will focus on my coaching journey with Dana who is in her early 30s. Dana has been with the company for the past five years and she has risen from the post of Finance Advisor to Senior Finance Advisor.  I got to know Dana when both of us were working in school-based ground teams in KL/Selangor. However, we did not have the opportunity to work together as we were assigned to different schools and I was assigned a different finance advisor.





Our initial meetings were inter-departmental, comprising Heads of Departments, Project Leads and/or representatives from the three different departments involved in module development and completion.  The focus of these meetings was to get clarity on the job scope, the kind of support needed and the timeline to adhere to.  Some of the major questions driving these discussions were:


  1. Why do you want to develop these modules?
  2. Who are your participants for these modules? and
  • When do you want these modules ready for delivery?


The initial meetings gave us a clear sense of what the client (Finance Department) wanted.  The client’s given timeline made sense at this point but as we worked on the module, Dana had to reschedule the dates in the timeline several times as she realized that the module development process was a lot more overwhelming not only for her as a Project Lead but also for her team of six.  Both Dana and I realized that the finance department, though proficient in their work, would need a lot more support than anticipated as the task required a set of skills that were totally new to them.  Moreover, everyone involved in this project had on-going work commitments and deadlines related to other projects.

In my first one-on one session with Dana, our focus was on supporting her with her immediate goal which was to help her ‘Develop a finance module on Laporan Prestasi’.  As this coaching journey was of a different nature, where we were co-constructing the module – with Dana giving content input and me giving suggestions on delivery and supporting her with writing the facilitator guide – I had to spend some time to get clarity on the goal.  Questions at this point included:


  1. Of the six modules, which is the first to be delivered? (This question was necessary, to ensure there was continuity in the six modules and content would not be repeated)
  2. What is your aim in delivering this module?


The answer to the second question was crucial as it was to give a sense of direction for the whole coaching journey.


Reflection – Challenges and Successes


The initial deadline for the module completion, formatting and branding was end of May with a Mock Training Session scheduled for mid-June.  However, due to the reasons stated earlier, the modules were only completed in mid-September, with final formatting, branding and approval taking place in mid-October.


On hindsight, I have realised the following:


  1. sometimes the difficulty in planning and meeting coaching deadlines are unavoidabledue to:
  2. client’s lack of knowledge of the job scope, in this case, module development, as the finance writers needed to be upskilled in module writing and development.
  3. client’s lack of commitment to timelines, and
  4. client’s failure to understand that timelines once identified, need to be adhered to


As a coach who was new to module writing at that point, I too had failed to recognize that a lot of time would be needed to upskill Dana, which inadvertently prolonged the time needed to meet the clients’ needs, hence the shifts in the timeline.


  1. as this was a new project across departments, I had to be flexible in accepting the changes in the timeline to maintain the relationshipsthat were being built and to provide the necessary support in empowering Dana, as it was likely to be a long-term relationship with the finance department.


Lesson Learnt: Though we had established the goal clearly, in future more time needs to be allocated for certain coaching journeys and ground rules need to be in place to ensure every party involved adheres to the timeline.




Dana and I spent considerable time discussing the details related to her immediate goal i.e.  development of the module assigned to her. It became obvious that the completion of the module was significant for her as she wanted to prove to her Head of Department and her colleagues that she could do it.  Although the goal had been established, Dana lacked clarity on it. She was not sure about the objective of her module and how she was going to achieve it. It took Dana a couple of sessions as well as reflection time to realize all too well that the module she wanted to develop had to cover three key aspects:


  1. the content had to be comprehensive for all schools irrespective of which stage they were at so that schools could use it independently to sustain practices without support from financial advisors
  2. delivery had to be fun, interactive and collaborative so that learning is easily applied in daily practice, and
  • the participants had to be provided with a workbook that was a comprehensive reference tool for their future use.







Reflection – Challenges and Successes


The discovery stage unfolded a few things to me as a coach:


  1. let the client do the thinking. Having done a lot of mentoring in my previous job scope, I was often tempted to ‘tell’ Dana what she needed to do, what the objectives of her module should be etc. It took a lot of restraint to refrain from doing so.  I had to consciously remind myself that my role as a coach was to stretch the client’s thinking.


  1. maintain the client’s focus on the issue during the discussions. I found it difficult to get my client focused on our discussions. She would spend at least 20-30 minutes talking about her personal life issues, and I would end up listening as a counsellor would.  I suppose getting her to focus on the task at hand was all the more difficult for me as these coaching sessions are within the company.


  • learn to focus more on coaching, even when mentoring is required. During our discussions, I had to play three roles – coach, mentor and counsellor. In my previous job descriptions in the company, I had done a lot more mentoring than coaching and it is very easy to revert to the former as it gets the work done fast.  I had to revert to mentoring to help Dana discover the objectives of her goal.  However, I became very conscious of the fact that if I were to empower her, I would need to focus on the use of coaching


  1. the coaching journey was going to be equally challengingfor me as a coach as:


  1. I had to elicit Dana’s conscious and unconscious finance knowledge (which she used competently in supporting school staff) and help her capture it in writing the module.


  1. I needed a clearer picture of the finance processes and procedures myself, if I were to support, coach and mentor her with module writing.

Lesson Learnt: Sometimes, a coach needs content knowledge to better guide their client/coachee.




During this stage, Dana and I delved deeper into what she needed in the module. Most important to her was the comprehensiveness of the content.  We spent several sessions not only discussing this but working on writing it out as well.


As we discussed the content of the module, it became clear to me that there were gaps in her knowledge that needed to be addressed, in a sensitive manner. Some of my questions to stretch her thinking were:


  1. How will you know your participants have achieved the learning objectives?
  2. What would they need to know to be able to achieve this outcome?
  • How can you convey this information to them in a fun manner?
  1. What can you do to make this a collaborative activity?
  2. How can you simplify the process for them?


To her credit, Dana did not let the daunting task and difficult questions deter her. Instead, she was all the more determined to accomplish what she had set out to do. When she reached a crossroad, she would say, “Let me think about this and I’ll get back to you by Friday?’ or “Let me check on this with so and so first.”


As ours was a journey, with no fixed day or time for meetings, Dana made it a point to come in early to meet with me at the office, often as early as 7.00 a.m. so that we could spend an hour or two to work out the details.


We also used a tool, a content map template, to help Dana plot the content of the module. This tool also helped Dana confirm her desired outcome for the key aspect most important for her – i.e.  the comprehensiveness of the content.



Reflection – Challenges and Successes


The Deep Learning Stage was very profound for both of us. Dana, was able to come up with ideas on how to develop the module. I could see she was happy with the learning and success she had achieved. Not only was she able to use the content map template and plot out her module outline, but also guide her five other writers to do the same.


It was deep learning for me as well. As her coach, I learnt:


  1. how to challenge her without demotivating her. I learnt that I could challenge her by asking probing questions. I learnt to simplify my questions so that she understood what was required of her.


  1. how to elicit her unconscious knowledge. I was totally honest with her when I said, “I really don’t know this. Could you please explain it to me in layman’s terms?”This challenged Dana’s thinking as she had to think of ways to ‘upskill’ my knowledge of the finance processes and it helped her use this information she shared with me to develop participants’ understanding in her module.


Lesson Learnt: One can be a better coach, if one has subject or content knowledge.




The action confirmation here was not only to confirm the timeline for the completion of the module but also to meet the demands from other departments such as formatting and branding. In addition, Dana realized that the modules would need to be reviewed by the Head of her Department as well as a vastly experienced staff in the Finance Department.  She also wanted to test the effectiveness of the module. Hence, more processes were added to the timeline.



At this point, I also mentored Dana by co-writing with her two slides.  With this, Dana had gained confidence and was committed to writing out the remaining slides. Henceforth, we agreed to meet once a week to track her work progress.


Reflection – Challenges and Successes


The Action Confirmation stage revealed several things:


  1. Sometimes there can be actions within actions, which might not have been identified earlier. In this case, Dana realized the need for several more processes including using a Train the Trainer session to review the effectiveness of the module.


  1. A Coach needs to be flexible in meeting client needs. The addition of the new processes into the timeline, affected my other work commitments and deadlines. Despite this, I had to support my client even when it meant I had to complete my own work by working weekends.


Lesson Learnt:  Action Confirmation stage may reveal other needs and commitments.




Dana and I met often during this stage to review her module and develop activities which were collaborative and interactive.


As a coach, I provided her with the necessary support – going over the slides in detail and asking her probing questions to find out the thinking that went into the writing of the slides, and to support her with the writing of the Participant Workbook as well.


Dana managed to finish her module within the given timeline, and the feedback from a very experienced finance team member helped her enhance its quality, in ensuring it addressed Ministry of Finance guidelines and circulars.

Reflection – Challenges and Successes


Tracking was easy as Dana was determined and committed to her goal.  There were times when she felt the stress and pressure of the project as she is a perfectionist.  As a coach, my role was to keep her motivated and being there for her whenever she needed support, professional or otherwise.


Our relationship had been good from the beginning and this journey certainly strengthened it to a level where Dana shared her deep-seated concerns and challenges, as a Project Lead, with me, having gained complete trust and faith in me.


Dana used all the learning from this journey to track the work of the other five writers in her team besides keeping her Head of Department updated on the work progress and the needs she had identified for her team’s progress.


Lesson Learnt: Your success as a Coach becomes clear when your client has gained mastery of himself/herself and knows what to do, moving forward.





Reflection – Challenges and Successes


At the end of the module development, I asked Dana for her feedback on our coaching journey. Dana, was more than willing to share how the journey has developed her on a professional and personal level:


  1. She is pleased and satisfied with the module she has developed. It was a difficult topic to begin with but now with all the probing and exploring, and putting it down in writing has improved her understanding of it.


  1. She is pleased with the module writing skills she has picked up as she is now able to use this knowledge to review modules written by the other writers as well as support them in improving their modules.  Dana actually went on to support the completion of a module by a fellow writer via Skype as the former was not available to come in to HQ due to health reasons.



  • She is now able to use the coaching approach I had used with her not only in her personal life but also at a professional level. She cited one example where she used it when working with a school team during a Finance review.  As she says, Coaching has helped me a lot in my line of work. Dealing and motivating teachers and KPT/PT to keep them on the move in managing and monitoring financial matters in school is not an easy task. With knowledge (in communicating and coaching) that I’ve gained, I am able to guide them (SLT&KPT) in figuring out the needs that they will act on and monitor in future.


Dana has been successful in ensuring her team of writers completed their modules. In fact, she reviewed the work of the other writers and made sure there was consistency in terms of how the modules were written, the way the resources were numbered and referenced. Most importantly, she completed the project and all the modules have been approved. Who would have thought that her work on one module would have empowered her to such a fantastic level!




Having completed the CPC programme, I have realized that I am on the right track towards becoming a better professional coach.  I believe in life-long learning and will continue to practice application of coaching skills within my organization and beyond, actively reflecting on these sessions and getting feedback on areas for improvement. Besides, I will continue to make use of opportunities to learn from other experienced coaches. The journey has just begun. As John Wooden says, “A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a Life”. And that’s what I want to do …change lives!

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