Scaling is a simple technique that you can bring to your coaching to unlock the coachee’s thinking about where they are now, versus where they want to be. Given the nature of the tool, it’s hard to pin down its initial origin, but it has strong history in various Solution Focused and Progress Focused approaches.
We open by asking the coachee “On a scale of 0 to 10, where do you currently rate yourself?”. The question should be tailored to their current goals or the topic of conversation. If the coachee wants to improve their public speaking skills, then the questions could be “On a scale of 0 to 10, how would you rate your ability to speak in public?”.
This question opens the conversation, with the aim of building a shared understanding.
We might next ask “On this same scale, where would you like to get to?”. It’s also useful to consider the extremes, “What does a 10 look like to you?”, “How about 0?”. This starts to give us a picture of the coachee’s thinking about this skill or area.
With the coachee’s scoring, it is important the coach doesn’t question the chosen score. Suggesting that the coachee should change their score, or rethink it, is likely to close the conversation, rather than open it. Far more useful is to question why a score was given “What is your thinking behind this 5?”.
Scaling can help us track goals, and also set steps towards achieving them. Starting at 2 and trying to jump to 9 may not be achievable, but the coachee can probably find some steps to take to move up in smaller increments, and you can shape this conversation as a coach, “What would it take to move to 4?”.
By revisiting the question over several sessions, we can build our understanding of how the coachee is approaching their goal, and show progress towards it. That can be a very powerful motivator in stepping up to the next level.
For some coachees, asking the questions may not be concrete enough. We can choose to sketch out the line along with the question, and mark the scores as we go. The physical representation can be very helpful in shaping the discussion, marking the paper can provide additional focus on the area.
As with all techniques, this may not work for you, or your specific coachee. It’s great to try it out, but if it’s not useful move on.
For those coachees that find benefit, I’ve tended to find it’s extremely powerful. Given the simplicity of deploying it, I’d very much advise every coach to consider it as part of their toolbox.