The Importance of Motivation in Coaching


The basic concept of coaching is to assist people in achieving more than they are able to at the moment. But for the best end result to be achieved - indeed for anything at all to be achieved - the coachee needs to have the motivation to achieve it.

Think about this for a moment. Let's suppose you have countless years of experience as a coach. You have developed questions and ways of identifying areas of potential in everyone you coach. You have a good track record in helping them to achieve their true potential.

But one day someone comes into your office for a coaching session. It soon becomes clear that they don't feel motivated to achieve anything during the session, let alone afterwards when they are left to their own devices. In order for the coaching process to work, the coachee must feel motivated enough to want to make changes for the better.

Does the coachee have these three things?

If you look at everyone who has ever successfully improved their performance, achieved goals and changed negative behavior, you will see they all have three things in common:

1. They have KNOWLEDGE
2. They have SKILLS
3. They have DESIRE

These three things can be broken down into more detail as well. If a person is motivated to do better (whether that is in life in general, in their job or in their daily tasks) they must have the knowledge of what they need to do to make those changes. They also need to have the skill to know HOW to change things. Finally they need to have the desire - the motivation - to make these things happen.

You may initially think that only one or two of those things are needed for a person to be motivated enough to push through any problems or issues they may have. But this is not the case.

For example someone could be highly skilled in a particular area of work. They may know everything there is to know about the job. But if they don't have the desire to use those skills it doesn't matter how gifted they are. They won't achieve what is required of them in that area.

Similarly a person can have the desire but be lacking in the skills and knowledge they need to achieve their outcome. Of course you can use the desire to work towards gaining the skills and knowledge required, but you can see that nothing will happen unless the person is motivated enough to achieve all three things.

Are there different types of motivation?

Yes there are - there are two main types to be aware of. Both of them can help to keep someone motivated to make differences in their life.

The first type is internal motivation. As the name suggests it comes from inside the person themselves. For instance they may say ‘I want to achieve 10% extra sales today' or ‘I want to learn the extra skills I'll need to apply for that promotion'. Self motivation is a great thing to have. Regular coaching sessions can help encourage and motivate the coachee to the extent that they will experience that same motivation outside of the sessions as well. They may feel motivated enough to work on whatever they want to achieve, so they can arrive at the next coaching session feeling confident and eager to share their progress.

The second type of motivation is external motivation. As you might guess a coach can be a crucial part of this. It is important however to recognize that this form of motivation is not as long lasting as internal motivation can be. When a person can motivate themselves they are able to provide whatever they need in the form of motivation to keep it up over longer periods.

External motivation is different. In this case the coachee may not feel any internal motivation at all. They may experience a positive reaction and sense of motivation when someone else provides a reason for them to feel this way. But it won't last.

For instance let's suppose an employee is unhappy and bored with their job. Their manager may try to motivate them by giving them a bonus for reaching a certain sales target that week. The employee will feel an instant motivation to reach that goal, because there is a sum of money waiting for them at the end if they achieve it. But as soon as the goal has passed - regardless of whether they successfully claimed the bonus or not - their motivation levels will be back down to zero again.

So when it comes to motivating a coachee, you have to think in terms of leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to keep them interested in that final destination. This is something that can be planned beforehand, so you are prepared and ready for each coaching session. It will enable you and your coachee to get the best out of every session, because you will both have a plan to stick to.

Don't underestimate the importance of motivation.

Different people may be motivated in different ways and with different things. But the core concept - to feel motivated to reach the goal you are aiming at - is the same.

Part of a successful coaching experience is to help the client find ways in which they can be motivated and feel good about what they are doing in between sessions. For example instead of asking what your coachee likes to do, try focusing instead on why they like to do it. It is a good question to ask because it can help them unlock their potential in that area. It forces them to look at their situation in a way they may not have done before.

Can you imagine how powerful that can be to someone? If it works well it can also act as a trigger to release the power of self motivation on a regular basis. Once someone knows why they are in the job they have chosen, they will know how to achieve more in that field every time.

Derek Good
Managing Director
Rapid Results Limited


Productivity, confidence and leadership are areas Derek Good writes, presents and works with businesses to develop.

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