As coaches, we often ask ourselves, “How can I give my client the best chance possible to create change in their life?”
One of the biggest predictors of coaching effectiveness comes down to the relationship between the coach and the client, and our ability to meet our clients where they are. And one of the most important factors contributing to meeting a client where they are at is the ability to deeply understand their motivational makeup.
Great coaches don’t motivate their clients; they foster the motivation that already exists in them.
Science and research tied to motivation began with a focus on fixing problem behaviors, but has evolved into an approach of enhancing intrinsic motivation in others to help a client not just return to baseline but to also flourish. This groundbreaking movement has helped individuals change their relationships, further their careers, lead more fulfilling lives and more. This movement has also led me to develop a framework for motivation that I call the 3D Model of Motivation. The three phases of this model evolved from client-centered interventions that have been studied and demonstrated through research to be effective at enhancing intrinsic motivation.
I’m excited to introduce you to the concepts of this framework and hope you’ll join my session at the upcoming ICF conference, where I’ll dive even deeper into ways of applying this model to your coaching work.
The 3D Model of Motivation is based off three phases:
The first step of the 3D Model of Motivation is critical to successful coaching outcomes. Before we can dive in, we must develop a deep understanding of our client’s motivational makeup. Often, there’s an assumption that an individual is already motivated to change. Unfortunately, many coaching approaches devote little time to understanding motivation by simply assuming its presence. But to change, our clients must be willing, able and ready to transform themselves.
Willing and Able are the ingredients that make up Readiness. If the change feels important enough to the client, and they have the confidence to achieve it, they’ll feel readier to make it a go. Only by truly examining where your client lands on these crucial factors will you be able to provide the most effective behavior change coaching.
Building out a vision for the future is the key to creating the spark a client needs to pursue change. But how do we motivate the client to take this action? Research has shown that our minds are highly motivated to relieve cognitive dissonance. Therefore, we need to establish a perceived discrepancy between our client’s present state and their important goals for the future. This discrepancy underlies the motivation for our clients to change.
Once we have a clear understanding of our client’s motivation and have created a perceived discrepancy between their present state and vision of the future, it’s time to get our client to dig into that vision of the future. And while aha moments are important, we don’t have to have an epiphany to make a change in our lives. In fact, small progression is incredibly effective for big changes, and changes don’t commonly happen overnight.
As coaches, we have to help our clients build out self-efficacy slowly, and do it on a consistent basis. In learning theory, we call this approach scaffolding. As a coach, you must reinforce the thinking patterns that capture your client’s thinking of the future by picking up on the difference between change talk (which reflects a desire or commitment to change) and sustain talk (which indicates arguments for the status quo). Change talk is the lifeblood of deepening the drive, and your effectiveness as a coach relies on your ability to listen and engage in conversation that’s largely grounded in change talk, subtle as it may be.
One of the most important things I have learned is that the most critical question we could ask is, “For what IS this person motivated?” The answer to this question must come from the client; as coaches, our ultimate goal is not to argue for change, but to help our clients vocalize the motivation for change that’s already in them.
Dr. Jacinta M. Jiménez is a Stanford-trained Clinical Psychologist and Board-Certified Coach. Jacinta’s work has been dedicated to synthesizing scientific research and using it to build leadership development programs and technology platforms. A contributor to national news outlets including CNN, Women’s Health and ABC News, Jacinta’s deep knowledge of human behavior and psychological theory makes her an authority in catalyzing positive behavior change in individuals.
Jacinta currently serves as Head of Coaching for BetterUp, overseeing the strategic design, development, and implementation of learning for the company’s global network of coaches. BetterUp is a Gold Sponsor of ICF Converge 2017 and can be found in the Community Center neighborhood.
The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.
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