It might look good, but you lose performance when you spin the wheels

January 28, 2013


A Coaching trend has appeared where it’s OK failing, so long as you partly succeed. Is this strategy in the Client’s or Coach’s best interest?

The majority of people will have come across the mnemonic SMART, when it comes to setting goals. Referring to Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive.

Great goals, reached through individual centric conversations, meet all these criteria. Studies have concluded, time and time again, that clarity of purpose and single mindedness are key reasons why successful people succeed which is why Coaching mimics this.

The Coach’s challenge, is to help clients set goals that really do stretch them i.e. they are just about attainable, with much effort. What you don’t want are goals so simple everyone will achieve them or so difficult that 99% of people will fail.

Because our society tends to measure success/failure in black and white, this creates a dilemma for Coaches. If goals aren’t 100% achieved, unpicking the reasons why can be very de-motivational. It also questions the Coach’s competency too, so the temptation is to arrive at less challenging goals.

Add to this the, “Get out of jail free card”, that it’s OK to achieve 75% (for example) of your goal and you sow the seed that everything is just fine, which it isn’t.

What this approach fails to do is explore the dynamics of the journey, so a clearer line is needed. I prefer adding ER, (Evaluate and Reevaluate) to create SMARTER, rather than SMART Goals. This way you can acknowledge how circumstances change and how reflection and learning are crucial to effective Coaching.

It also means that with appropriate effort, the Client really gets to grip with the challenge, so they sprint off the line reaching their goal in the fastest possible time!

Jonathan Wainwright enables organisations to create commercial success through digital marketing, traditional communications and team development.

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