Core Skills – Planning and Goal-setting

Planning and goal-setting is an area that teachers recognise well. However, we are talking about coaching, not teaching and the situation is a bit different.

The biggest difference is … whose plan? Whose goals?

The skill of planning and goal-setting is about developing and maintaining an effective coaching plan with the student. Sounds familiar so far.

The coach does these things together with the student

  • Consolidates the collected information and establishes a coaching plan and development goals with the student that address concerns and major areas for learning and development,
  • Creates a plan with results that are attainable, measurable, specific and have target dates
  • Makes plan adjustments as warranted by the coaching process and by changes in the situation,
  • Helps the student identify and access different resources for learning (e.g., books, other professionals),
  • Identifies and targets early successes that are important to the student.

When to use planning and goal-setting?

There are opportunities for planning and goal-setting when planning the coaching sessions and at the start of each coaching session too. You can ask, “What do you want to achieve or experience in these coaching sessions? / this coaching session?”

Similarly, there are opportunities for planning and goal-setting when planning the term’s lessons and at the start of each lesson too.

“What do you want to learn or do during these lessons? / this lesson?”.

Previously, this has been expressed from the teacher’s internal point of view, “What do I want them to learn and do during the lessons?”.

Whose goals? Whose planning?

I have noticed that goals that are externally defined often result in low levels of motivation; and even may cause resentment and resistance in the client. This occurs even when the goals are well described and well understood. It happens most often when the goals are not well accepted, or not connected sufficiently to the client’s personal life.

I have also noticed that goals that are internally defined by the client result in higher levels of motivation and a different kind of resistance.

As coaching becomes more frequently used in schools and colleges we shall see more work done in balancing these two sets of goals. The personal, student goals and the community, educational goals. There need be no conflict between these sets of goals. There will be a need to build bridges between them.

Identifying resistance as external or internal

When you are coaching a student you will notice, probably through a change in their tone of voice, or body language, that there is some resistance to what is coming up for them.

I have found that this issue is one of whose goals are being worked with.

When the goal is not wholly accepted by the student there is resistance, or resentment.

  • Resistance is to internal goals. The body language often displays Fear.
  • Resentment is to external goals. The body language often displays Disgust.

How can you pick up on the difference between resistance and resentment?

For me this is a question of calibration. Noticing the changes in a particular student’s tone of voice and body language when I know in advance that the goal is external will help me notice when it happens later.

Misuse of coaching as a persuasion tool

There is a risk that coaching will be tried as a means of persuasion. Although some visible success may be achieved in a coaching session it is common that the client’s values system will bring them back to the previous behaviour.

It is only when the client truly wishes to make a change, that is in line with their values, that they can overcome the fear that has been holding them back from making desired changes.

Maturity

Coaching requires maturity, readiness for responsibility, and willingness to change yourself.

Balancing External and Internal goals

External goals are those that are set by the student’s Community (i.e. their family, society and school) and Internal goals are those that come from the student’s own perception of their Life Mission.

12 Step Method

A method that a coach can use to illuminate the student’s situation regarding their external and internal goals and finding a balance between them, that also enables the coach to remain neutral, is as follows.

On a scale 1-10 …

  1. How well do you know your own Life Mission and goals?
  2. How well would you like to know your own Life Mission and goals?
  3. What does/would knowing at that level give you?
  4. How strongly do you accept your own Life Mission and goals?
  5. How strong would you like your acceptance of your own Life Mission and goals to be?
  6. What does/would accepting them at that level give you?
  7. How well do you know your community’s goals for you? How strongly do you accept them?
  8. How well would you like to know your community’s goals for you?
  9. What does/would knowing at that level give you?
  10. How strongly do you accept your community’s goals?
  11. How strong would you like your acceptance of your community’s goals to be?
  12. What does/would accepting them at that level give you?

This is part of a series of 12 blogs about the ICF Core Coaching Skills