In previous blogs, I have discussed the barriers to coaching, how to overcome them, and how to coach using the GROW model. In this blog, I look at the topics that clients typically present and discuss what may really be going on.

What to Coach?

We tend to coach the client to deal with the issues they present – often concerns around stress, workload, time management, difficult relationships, work-life balance, making decisions, and so on.  We can give clients tools and techniques to manage these issues, but dealing with them does not automatically result in their feeling better. In fact, discussing them can sometimes be counter-productive, leading the client into a downward spiral.

While they are perceived as the problem, they are often not the fundamental issue that is impeding the client’s performance and their well-being. Often, the root cause is simply that they are not able to spend enough of their time at work on the things that motivate them, and they spend too much of their time on things that drain their energy.

This means that we need to go deeper than the immediate problem to help the client explore what’s really going on and what motivates and energises them. If they can find ways to do more of what energises them at work and less of what drains them, they will be more productive, motivated and have greater well-being too.

How to go Deeper

Motivation is why you do what you do – what causes you to act – AND how hard you try and how long you keep trying for – it is a combination of purpose, persistence and resilience.

When coaching motivation, you will need to work in all three areas.

• What gives your client their sense of purpose?
• What enables them to persist despite difficulties?
• And what makes them resilient to bounce back after setbacks?

There are practical tools to help clients in all three areas – see the summary of the ones I draw on in this Coaching at Work article.

Working in this way on what positively motivates the client – rather than only on their presenting symptoms – can be much more productive and have a longer-term impact on their overall performance and their well-being too.

So, next time you are coaching, focus on what may really be going on and and switch the focus to what motivates and energises your client. If they find the key to their motivation, they will be able to deal with the things that drain their energy more easily.