Performance coaching is a process that improves the client’s clarity of thought and action. A common outcome from a coaching session is actions (or steps) that a client wishes to take in service of achieving a goal. When a client decides they wish to take a particular step I work them through a methodical goal setting process to ensure maximum clarity of intention and impact. The process is extensive. At every stage, we want to ensure we are maximizing our best thinking and designing actions that we can (and will) implement.
Below I’ve outlined a simplified version of this process that you can use on your own (taking notes may be helpful) or with your teams.
- Establishing purpose
- Vision / Outcome
Why are you taking this action? What is the broader narrative concerning this action? Before you move into the design of the action it’s important to establish why you are taking it. This is separate from the desired outcome and instead focused on your motivation. Being clear about your
Vision / Outcome
Spend your time are discussing the desired outcome. Describe it, describe the systems affected by your action - how will they be different? Don’t focus right now on what might be possible, or how it can be done. Instead, focus on what do you want? What is the best thing for all the systems you interact with? How do you want the ‘world’ to be different?
What are the changes necessary for the vision to be realized? What lies in the way of this and what needs to be overcome? Don’t want to focus on the negative, but it’s important to have the full picture in mind when deciding on an action.
How could this goal be achieved? If anything was possible what would you do? Don’t focus on what is possible - focus on what could be done. Later we’ll get the deciding what should be done, at this point the goal is simply to get your mind working a generate as many ideas as you can. Create more options.
Once you’ve created all those options, let us change track and start to think about which of them might be the most appealing. Which do you want to do? Which feels most aligned with your values? Feel free to create more options, but when deciding on preference be honest and granular. The objective of this phase is to make a positive choice around a specific path forward.
Now we know what we are doing and why. Out next step is the muster the resources necessary to deliver it. Likely this will mean a combination of international (will, intelligence) and external (assistance, permission) resources. What do you currently have available? What can you get to deliver on the action? Feel strong and in control - focus on the things you can do and how you will find a way to get the resources necessary to do the rest.
How will you know if you have implemented the action? If the action feels like a longer-term question, what are the ‘early warning signals’ that might show you if you are on the right track?
You have spent a lot of time thinking about what you are going to do, how you are going to do it and how you will know when it is done. Pause now. Review all the detail. What feels right? What feels wrong. Make adjustments - clarify any stage into the most concrete definition possible. Keep questioning and clarifying until all your uncertainty is gone and you have aligned both your logical and emotional self with taking the action.
This is a step that many miss but is critical to sustained success. Before you run off and start work pause, and take a few moments to codify the action you are going to take. Use the formulation: “I’m going to do X to achieve Y and this is how I’ll know it’s working”. Part of our process for committing to taking actions involved ensuring they are clear another to share, even if we choose not to!