Making development stick

Both our coaching clients and participants on our programmes have a desire to improve or experiment in various areas. How can they turn that desire into actual, followed through development?

The answer is simple, yet often times elusive – especially for bright people! It requires targeted practice, which is reviewed. Those targets need to be small, clear and tangible. You need a clear focus.

focusMany clients want to develop a skill, say their coaching capability. The first difficulty here is that ‘coaching capability’ is a huge spectrum and can be overwhelming. Going away determined to improve your coaching may be a noble idea however translating that into action often becomes difficult – and then doesn’t happen. We would advocate picking two or three elements of those skills and to focus on those for a couple of weeks, building capability. For example my first areas might be

  1. To listen to others speak  – listen to the end of their sentence without interrupting or thinking about what to say when a space appears
  2. To show a genuine interest and be fully engaged when in situations requiring ‘coaching skills’
  3. Asking people what they have already considered or are considering, when asked for advice rather than telling somebody immediately

Specifically identifying what you will work on is the first task. Identify some things that will make a difference and which you feel you can begin right away. Starting is key! It’s easy to procrastinate. If you don’t have this clear direction how can you track progress? The second piece is then reviewing your progress. Here is a simple way of doing so, taking an idea from Marshall Goldsmith. At the end of the day just spend a couple of minutes reviewing the three areas and for each rate yourself using a scale of 1-7 score yourself on whether you did your best or not today

  1. Did I do my best today to fully listen to others, listening to the end of the sentence?
  2. Did I do my best today to show interest in others and be fully engaged when dealing with them, rather than doing other things simultaneously?
  3. Did I do my best today in holding back on giving my answers, finding out what others were already considering and identifying if my input was needed?

Reviewing whether you did your best is different to putting a value on how good or badly you did. Try reviewing how near your best you did. It’s a much more committed approach. At the end of the week review the scores for the whole week. They will tell you something! Take a look at the beginning of the second week and target doing your best – each day. Over time you will develop your capability.

Once you have developed some mastery on your initial areas choose some other small areas to take you forward. Simple..but effective.

One last thing – start today, what’s stopping you?


Leave a comment