Nailing the Goal


One of the toughest challenges that I have faced in Coaching is to help coachees select appropriate goals for themselves.

Faced with a bewildering amount of data and feedback, coachees often wonder what they need to work on and how to choose appropriate goals to work on. Many sensitive coachees tend to take every sentence and word very seriously and feel that they are no good and will need to immediately improve in 100 areas of their work and personality. This somehow seems to paralyse them into inaction. As Coaches it is part of our role to help them sift through the data, find patterns, prioritize in relation to challenges in current role or in preparation for a future role and clearly articulate goals that will provide impact and help move their agenda forward. Helping coachees move from insights to action is one critical step in the coaching engagement.

So how do we help the coachee choose those goals that, when acted upon will provide the right leverage to the coachee in becoming more effective. Some of the things that I have found helpful in doing this are:

Revisiting the Sponsor brief: What was the expectation from the sponsor?

Reflecting on the purpose of the engagement: Going back to the initial meeting, what did the coachee expect to achieve out of this engagement?

Stepping back to look at the big picture: Is the purpose of the engagement to improve effectiveness in the current role or to prepare the coachee for effectiveness in a future role?

Look at data holistically: What are the emerging patterns as opposed to stray individual comments?
What is the consistency of the feedback? Is the data pointing to a particular constituency that needs to be aligned or engaged with immediately or to a greater extent?

Examine the REAL challenges that the coachee is facing at work: What are the day to day challenges
that the coachee in facing in the current role and how urgent is it to fix that? Will addressing those issues have significant positive impact on the coachees current work?

Coachees intuition: Intuitively what does the coachee feel he needs to work on? I find that more often than not, they know what will create impact.

Short term vs long term: In many cases the feedback and data is not only relevant for the current role but also points to some long term issues that the coachee needs to work on so that the same is of help as the coachee progresses in his or her career.

Visualizing what success would look like: getting the coachee to visualize what success would look like helps in clarifying what to pursue and also prioritize.

I have found that discussing all of these and going back every time to check the possible impact on current role challenges helps the coachee narrow down and finally choose those goals that will help bring leverage.

Once that is done, the coachee can use any of the several techniques for articulating SMART goals.

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