Supporting the action plan and success of the client
If you are an intuitive coach, like I am, you may have the tendency to sometimes indulge a little too much in the discovery part of the coaching process. Clearly, supporting the client in exploring the situation, getting to insights and evoking new awareness is exciting. We are all waiting for that moment of shift, when a new perspective comes to the surface and the client is able to notice something they were not aware of before.
For new coaches, this moment of discovery becomes so powerful and rewarding that it is easy to forget that our job is not finished yet. Getting the client to an insight is not enough. For a session to truly have a long-term impact, there is more we need to accomplish and pay attention to.
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) gives us a good framework for this final stage of a coaching conversation. Competency #8, “Facilitates Client Growth”, is clear on the importance of helping the client in setting up an action plan and methods of accountability that will bring the client into sustainable results.
Awareness to Moving Forward to Support
To tell you the truth, I am cautious about the word action. Many times, this word is interpreted as the need to establish a tangible, concrete step forward. In reality, the result of awareness can prompt the client to many different ways of moving forward.
Action can be tangible with the result of the coaching conversation as a clear, concrete step forward. However, action can also be an investment in self-discovery or some moment of reflection, time for observation or brewing on a concept. Action can be to stay still for a while or perhaps even to take a step backwards, or even to quit.
That is why I prefer to call this “moving forward” so my clients have complete freedom to decide what is truly relevant for them in the moments, hours and days after their session.
It is important to remember that this movement forward needs to be a simple, organic result of awareness. Action does not come out of thin air. It is a consequence of the discovery and the exploration the client has done previously. Now that the client has a new awareness, a new piece of information, or, as I like to say, a new ingredient in this recipe, what are they going to do differently?
Here, we can see the flow of the coaching conversation from establishing the agreement, maintaining presence, listening actively, evoking awareness to now facilitating an opportunity for growth and development.
Action cannot be manufactured. The best action plan is created out of a natural evolution of awareness.
But designing an action is also not enough… A client can be very clear and precise in establishing their movement forward, but what will support them in actually accomplishing what they created?
That is why in coaching, we need to invite the client to create systems that will support them in being successful with their plan. What are the resources, the measures, and processes they need to make sure they will follow through?
In coaching lingo, we call it accountability. I prefer to use the expression, “systems of support.” Always remember that it is best to promote the client’s autonomy and check the level of personal commitment they have to their plan. The best accountability is not necessarily to another person, certainly not to the coach. As coaches, we want to encourage the client to take full responsibility for the process including guaranteeing their own movement forward.
Oh, and after this, how do you close a coaching conversation? Simple! Ask the client… Is this a good place to stop?
As a mentor coach, I am always giving feedback to my students and mentees helping them develop their coaching skills and prepare for their certification with the ICF. ForCoaches is a place where I can publicly share some of my insights and experiences. What does it mean to be a truly effective coach?