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PLANNING THE JOURNEY

One of the first stages in working with a learner is to help the learner to identify what he or she really wants to achieve. There can be a number of contexts for this; it is important to help the learner work through the key stages. For some learners this may prove to be difficult if they have never had the opportunity to sit and review their hopes and dreams. Within a working environment, objective and goal setting tends to be work related, i.e. what are you going to do to develop competence in the areas that this organization needs?

It will also be important to help the learner test reality. In today's working environment, more than ever before individuals have to cope with and handle change. This was discussed in more detail in Chapter 3. It is essential that you help your learner to really explore the options and not to make assumptions based on what has happened before. This may include helping the learner to make lateral moves rather than assume progress means promotion.

You may also work with individuals who are very happy doing what they have always done; they do not want to change. You may coach people who are suffering from a lack of confidence or self-esteem because of the feedback they have received from others in the past. Helping them to change their perspective may prove to be more of a challenge, because they may see the daily actions of others reinforcing this view.

Other learners may want to develop new competencies or skills, and you may be either directly coaching them or helping them to find the right kind of support.

Importantly these coaching conversations should not just be seen in isolation. We have a responsibility to the individual learners that we coach, in the same way as a trainer has a responsibility to people coming on a training course to help them prepare for re-entry back into the organization, to help them recognize where their team or organization is on their own change journey and to help them develop ways of ensuring their own personal growth as well as supporting organizational change.

If you are acting as more of a personal coach to an individual you can enable your learner to think about what he or she might want to achieve in both work and life goals. An important first step in this is helping the learner to establish answers to the following:

  • Where am I now?

  • What would I like to do differently in the future?

  • What are my work-related goals?

  • What would I like to achieve outside work?

Although on the surface these are comparatively simple questions, underneath each question there is a subset of questions to enable you and the learner to identify the learner's current situation and future aspirations:

  • Where am I now?

    • What skills, competencies have I achieved?

    • What job role?

    • What about development on the job, off job?

    • Who offers me support currently?

  • What would I like to do differently in the future?

    • What style and pattern of working?

    • What new responsibilities?

    • What job change?

    • Do I want to transfer to another part of the business?

    • What about location?

    • What skills, competencies, training or new learning do I need?

  • What are my work-related goals?

    • In three months' time I would like to have...

    • In six months' time I would like to have...

    • In 12 months' time I would like to have...

    • How would I break these goals down into SMART objectives?

    • How could I push myself further?

  • What would I like to achieve outside work?

    • What are my hopes and aspirations?

    • What is realistic to achieve in the short term?

    • How could I break these down into bite-sized achievable goals?

    • Who will offer me support?

    • How will I measure my success?

One of the realities in objective and goal setting is that it is all too easy to set goals and to break these goals down into SMART objectives and yet still not to achieve anything beyond this first stage in the activity. The reason for this is that many people find it hard to kick-start themselves out of their current situation, so a very real question might be 'What is stopping you?'

There are a number of possible reasons:

  • inertia;

  • fear of moving outside their own comfort zone;

  • low self-esteem;

  • workload;

  • lack of motivation, self-belief;

  • no real desire to do anything different.

This is reflected by the well-known saying, 'If you do what you always did you'll get what you always got.'

Often individuals get caught in patterns of working and behaving that are reinforced by the people and situations around them. Encouraging them to take the important first step is an essential part of the role of being a coach. As in any comparable form of sports or ambition, coaching is about encouraging the individual to move forward by focusing on self-belief and taking the first tentative steps forward. Sometimes it may be the actions of others that are causing the delay; this is a harder issue to deal with, particularly if it is part of an organizational culture. If you are looking to develop talent to support change, having individuals feeling frustrated by bureaucracy or the actions of their managers can result in lack of motivation, inactivity or, in the worst case, talented individuals leaving the organization.


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