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What Will We See If It Works?

IMG_0226 - Version 2How does a coach measure effectiveness? At the extremes, one can say, “You can’t. The coachee assesses whether he or she is benefiting from your interactions.” Or, “You can. Together we set SMART goals which by definition are measurable.”

The second extreme misses the huge truth that not all that is valuable can be measured. The first extreme misses an important truth a wise coach in a class I taught expressed this way:

“If I were a ballroom dance instructor, and my pupils learned to waltz and fox trot and tango at world class levels, yet never danced again after my class, I’d consider myself a failure. Similarly as a coach, my clients should leave my sessions eager to try out the possibilities we’ve unearthed together. If they don’t, how can I consider my coaching a success?”

Part of coaching for me, then, is helping clients understand what “dancing after class” means to them. Here’s how it works.

  • Get specific. Instead of “Being more responsive to trainee needs”, a client improved her goal to “Understanding what the trainees in this cohort are/aren’t learning and figuring out how to flex to help more of them master the material.” Instead of, “Be a better mentor,” another chose, “Mentor those I lead to set goals and success criteria.” These paint a clearer picture of exactly what the person might see.
  • Identify road blocks. For the first goal with trainees, my client knew that the course’s fast pace made it easy to dismiss the needs of anyone who needed more time—yet learning speed didn’t correlate with eventual career success. This helped him focus on new ideas for personalized learning, partnering trainees for studying, and more. For the mentoring goal, my client realized that she’d been doing all the goal-setting for her staff. She needed to take a different approach.
  • Add urgency and immediacy. The urgency is captured in a statement that becomes a constant reminder of why the person chose a course. The immediacy is captured in a question they can repeatedly ask themselves concerning whether it is working. For the trainee course, the client’s statements looked like this:
    • To ensure all who are capable of job success have the time and support for class success
    • Do I have real information on how confident people are of their mastery of the material?

Now they know why and they know what they’ll see if it’s working. We know where we’re going. And it’s easy for us to tell if they’re dancing after class.

How do your clients know they’re on the way to where they wish to go?

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Jane Kise is a consultant and executive coach. The founder of Differentiated Coaching Associates and author of over 20 books, she works with schools and businesses worldwide to help create environments where everyone can flourish.

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