Goal Setting and Forward Movement

Competency 8: Facilitates Client Growth is found in the ICF Competencies under Part D: Cultivating Learning and Growth. ICF defines this competency as “Partners with the client to transform learning and insight into action. Promotes client autonomy in the coaching process.” The following markers are indicators of competency. Markers 2-5 and 8 are closely related so they will be addressed together. With these, I will close the series on the New ICF Competency Model.

2. Partners with the client to design goals, actions and accountability measures that integrate and expand new learning 

3. Acknowledges and supports client autonomy in the design of goals, actions and methods of accountability 

4. Supports the client in identifying potential results or learning from identified action steps 

5. Invites the client to consider how to move forward, including resources, support and potential barriers 

8. Partners with the client to close the session

When working with a client to design goals it is helpful to think of goals as both the goal of the session and the goal of the things the client will do between sessions. At the beginning of the session, during the coaching contract the work is to collaboratively determine what the client wants to accomplish during this session and how it will bring them to the outcomes they desire. Throughout and often at the end of a session the coach and client work together to determine how the client will continue moving forward towards the outcomes they desire between sessions. Sometimes this means that the client will continue thinking about something that came up during the session. Other times this means that there will be an action or series of actions that the client takes between sessions. However, facilitating learning and growth goes beyond simply generating a list of action items. In order to help the client learn and grow in the direction they wish to move, it is important to help them understand how the actions they choose will bring them closer to the outcomes they desire. It is also important to help the client think about what they have learned from the session that they can integrate into their daily lives and what actions they will take to do so. The most impactful way I have found to do this is to ask the client throughout the session what they are discovering. These questions often come after we have dove into a discussion about a particular point. I do this because while we are focused on thinking about the problem the client wants to solve, they are focused on innovating ways they can shift their thinking and behaviors to meet their goals. By simply asking what they are discovering as we talk through this, it focuses the client on recognizing what learning they can generate from the discussion we just had. By asking the client to speak their learnings out loud it solidifies the learning because they have to actively think about the learnings, say the learnings, and listen to the learnings. Without this action the client may not realize what they have learned or if they do realize it, they may forget when the session is over. Then, by asking the client how these new discoveries can help them as they move forward they have to think about how they will integrate what they have just realized into their life moving forward. This critical step further solidifies the learning because the client will not only realize what they learned but how they will implement the learning. 

When helping the client generate a plan for movement forward between sessions, I generally ask them what they would like to do rather than repeating the ideas they have mentioned during the session. This is the opportunity for the client to decide which ideas they’ve had will best bring them the direction they wish to go. It is also the time when they will make a personal commitment to themselves to take those steps forward. Once they decide which steps they would like to take between sessions, I generally dig into what impacts these steps will have for them and what they would like to learn through these actions. I also ask them questions about how they will practically implement these actions. By asking them what might hinder their progress and what resources or help they may need it helps them create a more successful plan. I often also ask them about their backup plan in case things don’t go down the happy path they have just outlined. Lastly we talk about accountability. What structures or assistance does the client need in place to make sure that they keep this commitment to themselves? By designing their own methods of accountability and not depending on the client to hold them accountable, the client is able to be responsible for their own growth and change which is simply more sustainable.

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