Here we look at the how to make sure there is a clear focus in coaching and what makes it so important.
A Clear Focus in Coaching
What do we mean by a clear focus? This is where the Coach and Client have a common understanding of what they are trying to achieve in the coaching session.
All too often this is not the case. There is either no clear focus, or worse, the Coach and Client have a different focus! This tends to happen by accident rather than with any deliberate intent.
Setting an Objective
The key to any successful coaching meeting is to have a clear objective or objectives. This sounds obvious but like most coaching skills, it seems deceptively simple, but can be very difficult.
There are many coaching models and frameworks and most of them include setting objectives (or goals) as a part of the process, for example GROW and ACHIEVE. These models tend to differ as to the stage at which objectives are set.
By having clear objectives that both the Coach and Client understand it is possible to have a very clear focus. If there are no objectives for a coaching session there will be no clear focus and that brings with it the risk of poor outcomes.
Benefit of Objectives
If the Coach and Client agree an objective for the session that is ‘to identify 5 things I can do to increase staff engagement’ the session immediately has a focus.
- This allows the Coach to keep the conversation on track
- Both parties know the aim of the conversation
- There is a way of measuring how effective the coaching has been and a sense of achievement where the objective is met
- It maintains the ‘energy’ of the conversation. Where the objective is not clear the conversation can meander and feel like it lacks momentum. At the end nobody really knows how effective the conversation has been – there is no measure of success
Why Doesn’t It Happen?
There are a lot of reasons this happens and the main ones seem to be:
- If a client is wrapped up in a topic sometimes newer coaches want to let them ‘get it off their chest’ before talking about objectives. The problem is the ‘getting of the chest’ conversation can take 50% of the available time.
- It’s too difficult to set an objective. Some coaches find it difficult to agree attitudinal and behavioural objectives with their clients.
- The coach gets wrapped up in the conversation and simply forgets to set an objective. This is recognised at some point in the session. The problem arrives when it’s at the end of the session.
- One of the mistakes made by new coaches is to assume the objective of the session is set before they have really discussed it properly with the client. This is where the coach and client can have a different objective in mind. An objective like ‘to be able to make more powerful presentations’ sounds like it’s clear. But in reality what will be achieved by the end of the session? The coach may think it’s a plan of action to improve presentations. The client may think that they will leave the session able to make more powerful presentations.
You’ll notice that all the reasons given here relate to something the coach did or didn’t do
This is a personal view but it reflects the views of many in the coaching world. I have personally made most of the errors described above and have learned much from the experience. The setting of good session objectives seems to be an area that causes those being trained to coach some difficulty. Hopefully here we have explained the benefit of doing this well. It will improve the power of the coaching session and in the end will be a significant benefit for any coaching client.
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