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Goal Setting for Coaching Success!

May 29, 2018

Do you sometimes find yourself struggling with goal setting during a coaching session with a client?
Have you noticed occasionally there might be a disconnect between what the client said was their goal was for the session, and how the session evolves?
Would you like to know how to work with your client to set effective goals?

Goal setting or supporting your client to create an agreement for the coaching session serves as a foundation for the rest of the session. And without a strong base to work from, you might find the session meanders in a less than effective way. It is, therefore, very important that we as coaches learn to support our clients to set effective goals for each session.

A common mistake new coaches make is to accept the initial goal that a client brings to the session. However, it often happens the first goal is a surface goal, and if you support your client to explore this initial goal with your client, you can potentially uncover a deeper, more meaningful goal. 

Exploring the goal more deeply has an impact on the effectiveness of the coaching session by:

  • Uncovering the underlying purpose of the goal, and what it really means to the client at a deeper unconscious level – which then creates conscious awareness.
  • Supporting the client to move from a general goal to a more specific one which will enable the client to create potentially even greater transformational change.
  • Formulating a goal that is achievable, understood, measurable, rewarding and can be linked to action steps and therefore creating a more effective coaching session.

So, what can you do to explore the goal in more detail?

  1. Start by asking them what they want to get out of their session with you. This is the initial step, and this is where the client talks about the goal they came into the session with. (if they were aware of what they want to achieve).
  2. Listen to the client’s words, and reflect them back. For instance, if a client says they need to create more balance in their lives, ask them what balance means to them. 
  3. Hold space for your client when they talk. Rather than rushing in to acknowledge or reflect whatever the client says. When you hold the space for them, as they speak, they can explore their goal and the reasons behind it more deeply
  4. Reflect back to the client what you notice about their physiology. During a coaching conversation, you, as coach, pay attention to more than just the words a client is using. If you notice their physiology changes when they say something, reflect it back to them using words like: “I noticed you sat up straighter/looked away/slumped a little when you said that. What came up for you at that moment?”
  5. Be curious, explore what might be coming up for a client. Remember a coaching conversation is a two-way conversation. Check in with the client and ask them questions like “Does this sound right?” Or “Does this resonate with you?”
  6. Allow the client to do the work. Your role as a coach is to listen, and to hold up a mirror to the client so your client can articulate their own goal. 
  7. Check in again and ask your client what the goal is once you and your client have explored the goal in more detail. Your probing questions and conversation has potentially brought up new awareness and supported them to clarify their goal and it may have changed. 
  8. Clarify the goal. When you hear the potential goal for the session in the client’s own words (not yours), summarise and reflect back what you heard and check in if you heard the goal correctly. This will let the client know you have heard and understood their deeper goal. At this point, you can ask them how this ties in with what they initially said.
  9. Support the client to understand what the evidence of success is when their goal is achieved. For example, when your goal is achieved, what will be the evidence of your success? What will be different? When you have achieved your goal, what will you be seeing? And so forth.

At this point you can take your client to success, and to proceed with the rest of the structure of the coaching conversation.

Listen to Empower World’s Coaching and Leadership Podcast Episode 103, during which Jeanine and Marie discuss goal setting, and demonstrate how to set goals with a brief coaching session.

Episode-103 can also be found here: 
Direct Link:
Stitcher: http://bit.ly/podcast-episode-103 
iTunes: http://bit.ly/EW-Podcast-iTune

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