I’ve worked with a number of junior leaders, and there’s often a theme that comes through in our conversations. The people that they are coaching are not dedicated to achieving their goals.
When we probe into the idea of dedication, there’s usually one of a small number of issues at hand. I’m going to talk about a couple of them today, and share a few techniques for overcoming them if you recognise them in your own endeavours.
Externally imposed – A person will tend to own their goals if they have created them and stated them for themselves, rather than had goals imposed on them from an external source. When you’re coaching, the coachee will bring their full understanding and potential for growth to the conversation, so let them set the goals. As a leader, share examples of times when people have been successful. Build that understanding, and then when you are coaching, let the coaching take it on to form their own goals.
Saying what you want to hear – Sometimes a coachee will try to guess what the coach wants to hear, and set that as their goal. You might recognise this when the coachee is actively seeking approval from you for their suggestions, latching on to any you view favourably. It’s challenging to overcome this behaviour. You need to build more trust with the coachee, maybe by considering other topics before returning to this goal setting. Expand the conversation. This encourages the coachee to dig deep, and find what’s really relevant to them. Don’t accept the first answer they give, but do let it be their area of focus if that really interests them.
Too big and scary – If a goal is overwhelming, then it can cause a coachee to lose heart, showing in this lack of dedication. A leader could recognise that the goal is not well formed, or it’s stated in very simplistic terms. “Get promoted” or “Be excellent” are examples of goals that might be too big for some coachees to progress with. Here we can probe on the details, strengthening the stated goal by allowing the coachee to make it more specific. We can encourage the coachee to break the goal into smaller steps, maybe by focusing on core skills to improve to position them well to succeed. Finally, we can use scaling to understand and highlight the gap that they’ll need to cross, whilst also showing the stages of progress towards achieving the goal.
These various scenarios and techniques can help you understand where the lack of dedication to achieving a goal is coming from, and give you tools to find the right goal for the coachee, and to empower them towards success.