ICF Core Competency: Facilitating Learning and Results – Designing Actions

The purpose of coaching is to help a client take action and move forward to achieve her agreed upon coaching goals. Remember, creating awareness is a means to an end and not an end in itself. The next logical competency under Facilitating Learning and Results is thus Designing Actions.

9. Designing Actions—Ability to create with the client opportunities for ongoing learning, during coaching and in work/life situations, and for taking new actions that will most effectively lead to agreed-upon coaching results.

  1. Brainstorms and assists the client to define actions that will enable the client to demonstrate, practice, and deepen new learning.
  2. Helps the client to focus on and systematically explore specific concerns and opportunities that are central to agreed-upon coaching goals.
  3. Engages the client to explore alternative ideas and solutions, to evaluate options, and to make related decisions.
  4. Promotes active experimentation and self-discovery, where the client applies what has been discussed and learned during sessions immediately afterward in his/her work or life setting.
  5. Celebrates client successes and capabilities for future growth.
  6. Challenges client’s assumptions and perspectives to provoke new ideas and find new possibilities for action.
  7. Advocates or brings forward points of view that are aligned with client goals and, without attachment, engages the client to consider them.
  8. Helps the client “Do It Now” during the coaching session, providing immediate support.
  9. Encourages stretches and challenges but also a comfortable pace of learning.

Retrieved from ICF Core Coaching Competencies.

The coach is not responsible for designing actions for the client. The role of the coach is not to give advice. The coach is not an adviser. The coach is a facilitator of the process that enables the client to continue learning, move forward, and grow. The client is responsible for identifying options, and the coach and client are co-creators of actions in the sense that the coach helps to facilitate the process.

One example could be the case of a manager who would like to improve her communication skills at work because this was one of the areas for improvement she learned from her superior during a performance feedback discussion. The manager realizes that effective communication skills are key to her success and future promotion. The coach helps the manager explore the various situations where her communications, whether oral or written, may have somehow fallen short of what was expected and desired.

The coach may start the session with “What would you like to get out of this session?”  If the manager says that she would like be able to determine how she can improve her communication skills, then the coach may follow up with the questions below.

Possible questions the coach may ask to explore with the manager may include:  “Describe three specific situations where you felt that you could have done better in your communications at work.”  “What was the impact to the people concerned?” “What impact do you want to create instead?” “How would you measure that your communication skills have improved?” “What would you do differently to achieve the improvement you want?” “What will you do between this coaching session and the next one?”  “Which of the possible actions will you take?

If the manager is having difficulty in identifying new actions, the coach may suggest to help the her brainstorm together to get various ideas for further consideration.

These are just illustrative questions. The coach may not necessarily proceed exactly in this manner as the conversation is a two-way process, and the coach adjusts to what the manager talks about.

By the end of the coaching session, the coach would have helped the manager get the outcome she wanted, that is, to have identified some ways to improve her communications skills that she can start to work with, and then discuss and reflect upon in the next coaching session.

Click here to see the 11 ICF Core Coaching Competencies in this blog.

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