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How to use coaching principles when goal setting

Our coaches are often asked by teams and individuals how best to navigate through uncertain waters. Often they come to us because they are going around in circles. Sometimes they just want a space to think.

Coaches provide a space and questions to help the people they coach to goal set. Not only that, they help build the motivation and confidence to actually achieve those goals. With the end of the year fast approaching, we thought that we would impart some thoughts on goal setting. Whether you be thinking about setting some business development resolutions for your professionals, wondering how you yourself can achieve a particular outcome, or goal setting for the new year ahead, these tips are for you!

Lesson 1: Take a time out

One of the reasons why the New Year is such a good time for goal setting is because often we are afforded with a little bit of thinking space. Whether it be because you take a break, or because others in your firm have, leaving you with a shorter to do list than usual, make use of the thinking time.

Taking a break to goal set is the first lesson we can learn from coaching. When we coach, our clients have fixed a time in their diary for reflection. One of the comments we hear again and again is how lucky they are to have the time to think. Whilst a coaching session can focus the mind, the same discipline can be carried across into your day job. Put a space in your diary to think. It is impossible to goal set without it.

Lesson 2: Find your compass

Another thing that coaches do is work with clients to think about their values. Values are a person’s non-negotiables. They provide a direction of travel. When someone is lost they act like a compass helping to map out a route.

What is the compass for the goal you are looking to shape? It might be a personal goal and the values are yours. It could be a firm goal, your corporate values might help provide insights. Our firm’s values shape everything we do at Client Talk and help us to take strategic decisions.

Once you know what your values are, pin them up in front of you. If you are at a loss with a particular decision and going around in circles, ask yourself, what option is most in line with my values?

Lesson 3: Start with a vision

Often when we goal set we think about writing a list of things that we want to do. There is nothing wrong with this of course, but what is the big end goal we are trying to achieve? Where do we want to get to?

One of the lessons we can learn from coaching is to visualize where we want to end up. What does it look like at our destination? Before we start to think about the steps to get there, it can help to imagine what we are aspiring to. For example, what does the firm where all professionals are engaged in business development look like? Or, how does the you who wants to stand up and present before a large audience feel?

Lesson 4: Ask the hard questions first

A well known model for coaching walks individuals, or teams, through a four stage process. Once the aspiration has been set, the client will think about where they are in terms of reaching that. What is the current reality. Sometimes the reality is some way from the destination. However, this is where honesty is needed. That team that “never does any business development” – is it any, or perhaps are there some shoots that could be watered and encouraged to grow?

That list that we described in lesson 3 starts to come in at the next stage – when options are considered. There is never just one straight path to reach your goal. Doing nothing of course is always an option. What does doing nothing look and feel like?

Once you have worked though the model, only then is the list of steps, needed to reach the goal, compiled. This is one of the biggest lessons that can be learnt from coaching. Often when we goal set we jump in and produce a to do list. That to do list might not even be for ourselves. It might be for a team we manage, or for the professionals in our firm.

By missing out the steps we have described, we fail to ask ourselves the hard questions. We fail to build motivation to actually work through the to-do list. Or, worse, we might get to the destination and realise it was never an aspiration in the first place.

If you are looking for a little bit of help with goal setting for yourself, or your teams, this New Year, why don’t you get in touch. One of our coaches might just be the little bit of positive challenge that has been missing.



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