This article is about how to create momentum as a coach. Momentum is really important! Most people think the way to create momentum for your coachee is to be a cheerleader, but there are other ways that are more effective.
When you are coaching someone they will be trying new habits, new activities and new strategies. New habits are tough because they are new and usually uncomfortable. However, new habits aren’t as tough once you build momentum and that is where coaches come in. Coaches can help their coachee's develop momentum. One of the best ways to help coachees is to help them clarify clear and actionable goals as well as providing them a regular feedback loop.
How can coaches help create momentum for the coachee?
1. End meetings or coaching sessions with specific goals or action plans. If you are unclear on how to do this then use SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time bound. That can be a little much to remember so I would focus on measurable, specific and time bound.
For example, let’s say someone’s goal is to be a better at opening meetings and at the end of the coaching session they say great I am going to work on how I open meetings. That is way too vague, it’s not measurable and there is no deadline. As a coach you should challenge them to come up with something more specific, measurable, and time bound. A better goal would be, for 5 meetings (measurable) this week (time bound) I am going to prepare by writing my opening and then practicing my opening statements (specific) out loud for 10 minutes (measurable). Enable your coachee to be crystal clear at the end of their coaching session on what they are going to do. This clarity will also enable you to hold them accountable and to have clarity on where to get started.
2. Ask the coachee how you can help them create momentum. Check in with the coachee to see what their preferences are. Does the coachee like positive feedback, does the coachee prefer emailed feedback, does the coachee prefer emojis via text message, do they prefer constructive feedback instead of positive feedback, do they like on the spot feedback or do they prefer feedback at the end of the week? What will keep the coachee motivated and inspired to keep working on a new skill? If you don’t ask them then you will default to what you would like and it’s not likely to be the same as what they like. Ask them how you can help them stay on track and motivated. By keeping a consistent feedback looping going it builds momentum which motivates the coachee to keep growing.
3. Schedule a coaching goal. It is so easy to focus on what the coachee has to do and forget that you as a coach have a role too. When we forget our role as coaches, we drop the ball on what your coachee is working on. This can happen because we have so much on our plates. It’s hard to remember to send them a positive email or to provide constructive feedback because we get distracted or consumed with our own work. As a result you need to take a systematic approach by scheduling a coaching goal. For example, if the coachee likes positive emails then set a goal or a reminder to send two positive feedback emails this week. If you use a to-do list then add this goal to your to do list. Integrate your coaching goals into whatever system you use whether it is emails, to-do lists, reminders, or any other systematic planner. Your responsible for enabling them to drive momentum and it is no different than any of your other responsibilities. Furthermore, make sure your feedback emails say more than 'good job'. Generic emails such as good job come across as lazy! However, specific emails show you are invested and pay attention.
Example 1: Lazy Feedback email: Good job Joe!
Example 2: Non-Lazy Feedback email: I know you are working on opening meetings effectively. Today in the meeting you had a really confident tone and engaged people immediately when you opened with a compelling story. Great job keep it up Joe!
How much extra time does an email with specificity take? Two minutes maybe three minutes but the impact is massive. The coachee will see that you are invested, you care, and you support them.
Things to keep in mind as a coach.
You have insider knowledge. You know the coachee well because you developed a relationship with this person and as a result you are someone they respect. Moreover, you see things other people cannot because you know the coachee. If you interact with someone regularly then you can see their habits and tendencies and a manager or coach has this ability, making you extremely valuable. You have the ability to point out what they cannot see for themselves.
They put weight into what you say. As their coach they have a level of respect for you. The coachee sees value in what you bring to the table whether that is expertise, feedback or questions. You have the ability to reframe their thinking through questions because they respect your viewpoint. Your words are like a tube toothpaste, be careful because you cannot put your words back in the tube.
You can hold them accountable. A lot of us have a hard time holding ourselves accountable. When someone holds us accountable in a respectful way then we feel respected and cared for. Another interesting factor is people perform to the expectations you have of them. Jeff Bezos has incredibly high expectations for his team but the secret is he holds them accountable. Jeff claims once people get use to performing at a high standard it is hard to work for anyone else because high standards are enjoyable. Great coaches drive performance by holding high standards and keeping their coachees accountable.
I encourage you to have a coaching session this week and complete the following three activities.
At the end of the session ensure your coachee has created 2-3 SMART goals.
Ask the coachee how you can create momentum for them whether it is an email, on-the-spot feedback or something else.
Add the momentum actions to your to do list so you follow through on your responsibility.
Make a commitment to be becoming a better coach today and remember you are incredibly important in helping your coachees in developing momentum. Without momentum things can feel impossible. You are an incredibly important ingredient to their success.