- Beware of being too SMART
The GROW model, if misused, can lead us to think of coaching as a simple linear process in which we help someone set a goal, then move on to consider what we will do to achieve that goal. The goal, once set, is never reviewed. The SMART approach is to make that goal as specific, measurable, and targetable as possible, so enabling effective action planning. But there is little to be gained in nailing a goal down to its specifics if it isn’t the right goal in the first place. And SMARTening up a goal may deter both you and the coachee from revisiting that goal. How much energy do either of you have for dropping a goal once you’ve invested so much energy into detailing it? Sometimes being SMART may be appropriate, but before you push in with your SMART agenda, notice where the coachee’s energy is. Are they as keen as you are to get into the detail at this stage?
- When coachees don’t do their homework – get curious
Many coaches come to supervision worried that their coachee didn’t do their homework. What am I doing wrong? Is my coachee truly committed to the coaching process? From a systemic perspective I may not be particularly surprised that my coachee didn’t do what they said they would. Change is constant. The world shifts and priorities evolve. As things change, so the coachee seeks to make meaning of those changes by talking to others (you’re not the only person your coachee talks to!) From those conversations emerge new insights and intentions. The coach can play a useful role by seeking to understand what happened. And if we’re feeling super-systemic the coach my also reflect back the coachee’s response to not having done what they said they would do, and notice what that says about the coach-coachee relationship.
- Take every opportunity to engage with other stakeholders
With many clients we may have limited opportunity to venture outside the coaching room. This limits our capacity to understand the system in which the coachee operates. So, we can encourage our clients to let us loose! We can advocate the value of three-way meetings, for example, of conducting stakeholder interviews, even shadowing our coachees as they go about their daily lives. By getting out there into the coachee’s workplace, we can get a personal sense of the factors that are playing out in the evolution of their goals. This enables us to come to the coaching conversation with a better understanding of their world, and an enhanced capacity to be useful.
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Ask the coachee every time you meet how their intentions and objectives have changed since you last met.