There are stages to our development. We start off being unconsciously incompetent – as a young child, for example, we don’t know we can’t ride a bike. Then we get on a bike and become consciously incompetent.
Then with somebody’s help, we become consciously competent, having to concentrate hard to stay balanced turning corners. Now, most of us are unconsciously competent and don’t give the process of riding a bike a second thought.
For coaches it’s worth looking at this in more details. Below are six critical stages in the process of personal development. Our coaching approach depends on diagnosing the situation correctly. This isn’t necessarily easy because our clients need to be self-aware and honest – with us as well as themselves.
The Six Stages of Personal Development
- We know something is important but don’t believe it relates to us (I’m doing ok – it’s the others that need to do that).
- We know we need to change our behaviour but still don’t do it (we lack conviction because it’s difficult, inconvenient, or we unconsciously judge the risks outweigh the benefits).
- We know we need to change and want to, but lack the skills to do it.
- We know we need to change and do it but inconsistently (we get lazy or forgetful or distracted).
- We know and do it consistently (we’ve formed a good behaviour that we consciously cultivate).
- We know how to do it and make it second nature (it’s become part of who we are and a good habit has been formed).
For example, when it comes to giving constructive feedback to staff, most bosses know they should do it (ie they have got past stage 1) but relatively very few have made it through to stage 6.
Many get stuck at stage 3. If they ever get past that, stage 4 isn’t much of a problem but stage 5 can become a sticking point.
It seems to me that coaches need to recognise the importance of:
- Having action plans to encourage action between coaching meetings
- Encouraging those we coach to go for the foothills initially, rather than getting the crampons out and attempting Everest (it can be so dis-spiriting)
- Fully involving the supervisors of those we coach to provide interest and ongoing support – this is so important
Coaches might also do well to ask ourselves the same questions. What stage are we at in our own personal development?