Planning and Goal Setting

“I would love to take up painting”

“I wish I could paint like you”

“One day, I will start painting”

Ever since I started my painting late 2017, these a just a few wishes that I have heard time and time again, from many well intended folks. I used to wonder, what was so difficult? If you want it bad enough, there’s tonnes of classes, make some time, and just get to it. Now that I am in this as a Catalyst Coach, there are so many tangents to those simple wishes. Today’s module on the 10th ICF Competency of Planning and Goal Setting, puts forth the role of the coach in partnering with the client, and accompanying the client to turn awareness into plans and making those plans come to life.

Definition of Planning and Goal Setting by ICF — Ability to develop and maintain an effective coaching plan with the client.

The sub-competencies as below:

  • Consolidates collected information and establishes a coaching plan and development goals with the client that address concerns and major areas for learning and development.
  • Creates a plan with results that are attainable, measurable, specific, and have target dates.
  • Makes plan adjustments as warranted by the coaching process and by changes in the situation.
  • Helps the client identify and access different resources for learning (e.g., books, other professionals).
  • Identifies and targets early successes that are important to the client.

Even in painting and the world of art (no matter how expressive and random it may seem), every colour, stroke, mix, materials and feeling is planned and put to work. The vision, the impression, is planned with the depth of understanding of the canvas, the brush, and the finishing touches. Just like everyone else, artists do struggle to achieve their art goals, and get stuck.

Similarly, a client / coachee may struggle to achieve their goals with various reasons detailed below, and it just rings so many bells in my head, as many of them I’ve heard umpteenth times whether it’s me telling myself, crucial conversations with talents, coaching moments with clients. Ding!

Source: Mel Leow MCC, from CCC Program
  1. Too many goals & desires to achieve – in their zeal for self-improvement a client may have a whole list of things to work on at one time, placing in a zone that lacks pinpoint focus for targeted impactful action.
  2. Broad & idealistic concept of success – when the goal is not clear enough, and success factors remain fuzzy, clarity of achievement becomes an issue. For example, a client that says I will achieve the launch target of 1M new users for Brand A, so that I will be in the running for that Marketing Director position end of the year, is more likely to be successful, than a client that says, I would like to be promoted when I am successful in that project.
  3. Distracted & overcommitted – Clients could get busy and side-tracked with other adhoc, urgent areas that snatched their focus away and derails them from their true course, having lost sight of their first intended goal, it could also be worthwhile to check again, the relevance of the goals set.
  4. Triggered towards negativity – Often clients / coachees leave the safe, positive environment / space created by the coach, back to the toxic environment, people and thoughts of reality. Identifying ways to manage these factors, is crucial to keep pace of the goal. The client together with the coach has to identify the greater good for themselves here. Trying to be a better, emotionally regulated people leader will not be easy in a highly stressed, toxic, vicious and uncertain office environment.
  5. Living for the purposes of others – The client / coachee may be working on ‘politically correct’ or ‘socially acceptable’ goals which are not aligned with their own motivations. You can’t live in the dreams of others.
  6. No strong accountability – Ideally, the client should be held strongly accountable with and by themselves. Yet, having a partner (other than their coach), to help them through their journey, makes it more fun, and friendly. A friend in need, is a friend indeed.
  7. Missing drive and desperation – Recently, a sales leader candidly stated getting healthy as one of him goals, written quite broadly, and it seemed like it was only there as a deviation to the other areas that could be more purposeful, would be just too complex for him to work on. As a coach, I acknowledged the goal, and challenged him to review if this goal, will enable and empower him to bring added value to his capability, his team and eventually his career.

So, what’s next? How do we as coaches help clients / coachees move forward?

  • Choose 1 or 2 goals to achieve (with a relevant timeline). Chunk it down to realistic popcorn bites that can create momentum and traction.
  • Get detailed, visualize the success. Use VAKAd to enable the client to feel the success. Goose-bump them.
  • Stop, remove, focus. Ask for a pause, to reflect and re-evaluate.
  • Be a source of positivism. Believe in your coachee (check for conviction prior).
  • Get accountable, partner-up!
  • Start working on one area of passion. Perhaps to include some areas that excites the client, in their development plan. For example, if the client enjoys reading, recommend books that could kick-start their journey.

Just like learning to paint, whilst we’d all like to say we want to paint a Monet, or an Ahmad Zaki, let’s start with some basic sketching, and dreamy landscapes. Visualize your progress in 6 months, or 1 year. Pause and reflect to check whether you are enjoying the medium & process. You may have started with acrylic painting and later on decide that ink-sketching is more your style. Find your art groupie. It helps to keep the passion alive, and the camaraderie will certainly push the boundaries of learning (and helps with the share-buy of supplies!).

Key take-aways from this module:

  1. Planning and goal-setting could be easiest step or the hardest one depending if all the prior process and steps in coaching have been laid down in solid foundation. Just note, that what we as coaches may see as simple, easy steps, it may not be so for the client.
  2. We need to give space and encouragement to the client to take steps that could be very different that what he/she is typically used to. They could be subjected to various elements outside the safe coaching space. Hence, powerful questions should be posed to understand better the client’s context.
  3. I have to be aware of my OWN filters and behaviours here. Coaching corporate clients especially, I must ensure that my own ideals, values do not interfere with the client’s own. Ensuring my disposition is crucial for their state, strategy and steps of success!
  4. Failure is also expected. The most important step is to ensure that the client / coachee gets back on track. They are trying to make a big change in their lives. Falling off will definitely be part of their journey. As coaches, we have to encourage them to get back on the bandwagon of their dreams.

“Failure is Success in Progress”

Published by Shereen Kaur

Coach, Consultant, Wellness Advocate, Artist, Mom

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