Module 8: Helping Clients Set Priorities
Your most important job as a coach is to help clients prioritize and start taking action on the things they need to do to improve their lives and their business. You have to help them not only discover what needs to be done, but also get started doing it. This is how they get closer to their goal and when the client succeeds, the coach does as well. When they see benefits, they realize the value of your coaching, stay with you, and tell others about you.
The client’s first priority should be the biggest project that will have the greatest impact on their business and life. It’s usually not hard for a client to name this. However, if they’re struggling you can use Root Cause Analysis, high impact questions and other methods to help them uncover their most significant issue. Sometimes it’s just a matter of making a list of priorities and choosing the biggest. Ask them, ‘If you could accomplish only one thing, what would it be?’
Once you’ve identified the biggest project and goal, break it down into sub-goals. These are milestones along the way that will get the client closer to that big goal. Each of these milestones is then broken down into clear action steps. These are things your client can do on a daily basis to reach their sub-goals and eventually big goals. If an action step or milestone seems too big, break it up further until you have a list of daily tasks.
There will often be certain tasks that need to be accomplished before others. In this case, these preliminary tasks should be given priority. For example, a web site needs to be finished and filled with at least a little content before you start driving traffic to it. What can you do with that traffic if the site is empty? Put all of the tasks for a particular milestone into chronological order.
Big goals are hard to reach because they operate on a different time scale than we do. We need to be able to see the attainment of these goals day by day, or even hour by hour. Each step along the way toward a goal should have a timeline.
Timelines give your client a realistic deadline in which to finish tasks and reach milestones. Although your client will want to move forward as quickly as possible, they may need to curb their enthusiasm. It’s important that timelines be realistic. Otherwise, your client will fall behind. Set reasonable deadlines and allow for some flexibility if tasks take too long or are finished quickly.
There may be changes in strategy along the way as your client discovers what works for them and what doesn’t. It’s okay to make whatever changes are necessary as long as goals remain clearly defined. Timelines, small tasks, action steps, and milestones can be shifted, but keep major goals in place.