Transform Your Feedback and Goal Setting Forever With 3 Key Attributes

Tom Barrett
12 min readSep 23, 2021

A Coaches Guide To Action Planning That Works

So much talk is wasted. I’m curious about the transition from coaching dialogue to action and progress. I wonder what distinguishes successful action and goal setting from ineffective token gestures, gauzy accountability and flimsy impact.

Key Ideas.

  • Coaching is an emergent thinking space.
  • The attributes of effective action setting fall into three categories: Agency, Precision and Systems.
  • We must know our capacity for action and the constraints on agency.
  • Balance precise next steps with a broader lens on the systems we belong to.
  • A well-designed personal system of improvement is better than a single goal.

From Exploration To Action

There is a moment during mentoring or coaching when dialogue leads to the next steps. Everything you explore is in motion towards an action plan like the dialogic landscape tips us towards what’s next. A critical shift in the dialogue because nothing matters unless we change our behaviour.

We have explored lots of ideas together — what feels like something you might implement the next time this happens?

Dialogue may create new ideas and a shared understanding, but to apply the change or next step is why we come together. Yes, there is value in the talk, and sometimes the dialogue soothes and nourishes. But the threshold looms, and we need to step back again into the fast-flowing river of our day. It is easy for plans to get washed away from us.

As your session concludes, you move from one type of thinking to another. The developmental conversation is exploratory — coaching is an emergent space. But this safe space for emerging ideas needs the complementary thinking of action setting, making plans and deciding what to try next is convergent thinking.

Questions To Close a Coaching Session

I use a version of these two questions to close my coaching sessions.

What’s a key takeaway for you?

Tom Barrett

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