Coaching is a structured conversation with a clear purpose. However the emphasis on goal setting is debated a lot by coaches. Often the setting of goals is a requirement in formal coaching schemes by organisations or by coaches and coachees to evaluate the effectiveness of the coaching intervention. Informal coaching relationships focus more on purpose and meaning. So how is goal setting useful?
As we initiate a goal setting process with our coachees we build a sense of intent, focus and responsibility especially where the goals involve a vision of future possibilities for the coachee and their performance. A coach can work with the coachee to monitor progress towards goal achievement. It is easy to neglect this and to treat each session as completely new. We have to remember goal setting is not just about what to discuss during a first session.
If you push too hard however on goal setting and achievement, it can mean that action plans dominate conversations or confidence/trust is lost. You would probably be seen more as a teacher than a coach in that situation.
Here is one way to support a coachee to define their overall goal or outcome.
Encourage the coachee to visualise the outcome they want, using all their senses to imagine they are doing it – who is there, what they see, hear and feel. You can encourage the coachee to develop a rich picture and when this result feels ‘right’ to them, you bring them back to the here and now to write down the goal in specific measurable terms. This is particular useful for people who prefer to work with images and pictures.
For others, you may need to get them moving from a place which represents ‘here’ to ‘another’ which is their future outcome. For others, you may need to get them to describe in words what they want to achieve.