Most people perform better when they are heading towards a goal. As such, if you’re a coach, it is essential your coachees know how to set goals and achieve them. People, however, aren’t born knowing how to set goals. It’s a skill that you will need to impart and nurture as you work with them.
When structured mindfully, goals incorporate five specific characteristics that facilitate and ensure their successful execution.
5 Characteristics of Successful Goal-Setting:
- Clarity. Clear goals are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound (SMART). When a goal is clear and specific, a coachee knows what needs to be done and what is expected.
- Challenge. We are often motivated by achievement, so we’ll judge a goal by how difficult we perceive it to be. If it is too easy, we won’t give it as much attention and energy. However, if it demands us to stretch ourselves in order to achieve the recognition of a job well done, we are more likely to be motivated to excel.
- Commitment. For goal-setting to be effective, the goal needs to be agreed upon and understood. While this doesn’t mean you negotiate every goal with every coachee, there is value in engaging the very people working towards the goal. The harder the goal, the more commitment is needed.
- Task Complexity. For goals that are highly complex, we have to not only give people sufficient time to meet it, but actually provide the time to practice or learn skills that are necessary for success. The purpose of goal-setting is successful achievement, so you have to be careful that the conditions around the goal support the success rather than stifle it.
- Feedback. Incorporating feedback into the goal-setting process allows for expectations to be clarified, difficulty to be adjusted, and recognition to be given. In particular, when a goal is long-term in nature, it’s important to set benchmarks that help coachees gauge their success and see their achievement.
Once your coachee’s goals are defined, each goal should be “drilled down” with specific objectives and measures. Objectives can be thought of as the yardstick; measures can be thought of as the exact location on the yardstick of each goal area, and both short-term and long-term objectives and measures should be defined.
When determining objectives and measures it can be helpful to ask, “How will you know when this goal is achieved?” and “What, exactly, will be different around when the goal is attained?”
Without goals and the process of goal-setting, coachees can feel adrift. They may be tuned in to your words of wisdom, but they need the opportunity of direct application of the principles you’re teaching. As a coach, helping them to create and implement goals will allow them to turn your teachings into action and measure their progress as successes.