The CoachAccountable Blog

What's new with the CA platform, tutorials on using it, and customer spotlights.

Archive for Actions

Piping Worksheet Answers into Actions?

Hot on the heels of releasing the ability to have Worksheet answers populate Metrics, I got a question from Laura Watson of Venture Coaching, which asked if a similar thing could be added to support setting up Actions:

I am building a project planning worksheet for my clients. We use this on a quarterly basis to plan personal and professional projects together. The worksheet includes an area for creating action steps.

On the worksheet I’m creating in CA, I will have my clients fill in their action steps using the simple text field. I’m wondering if, at some point, it would be possible to have these action step fields linked to actual actions so we don’t have to enter the data twice.

To that I replied:

Good question, and it’s in many ways a good idea.  On first consideration however the answer is PROBABLY not ever.  The reason is that Actions within CoachAccountable are so much more than just what would be filled out in the single line: in addition to the “what”, CA also tracks the “by when”, reminders, and optionally which project the action falls under.

Since the complete data entry process for a given action is so much more complex, I doubt I’ll support having worksheet inputs pipe into Actions (to wit, setting up Worksheets to pipe into Metrics with a comment is complex enough to get right when creating a worksheet template! :)

Still, perhaps at some point I’ll allow simple action creation with just the what and by when, perhaps a date picker type of input to be put into the form-based worksheets.  It’s good food for thought!

She thanked me for the reply, and liked the idea using the worksheet for the “what” part and having clients fill out the rest in the Actions tab.

With a little more time to mull on it, I added the following in reply:

Since writing you another thought does occur to me: you MIGHT consider an alternate approach in which you in your worksheet prompt your clients to more literally make their action plan, rather than type in a few one-liners that don’t have the same sort of supported reality.  After all, Actions are living things with due dates and alerts, and optionally (ideally) have project-based organization with progress meters which satisfyingly fill up as things are marked off.  By contrast, it’s an uphill battle to get clients to go back and read an already completed worksheet.

So you could skip the double-data entry, by preferring instead that your clients make actual Action plans to just typing into a worksheet.  It won’t be that much an interruption as it’s guaranteed they’ll be logged in already, and 3 Action Projects will be perfect to organize the 3 Benchmarks.  Extra bonus?  A worksheet once submitted CAN’T be edited unless you send it back their way, but Actions can be added to and/or modified at any time as a quarter progresses. :)

I was honored to get back a simple reply:

Great ideas, thanks for this!

And I was honored not just because I was able to be helpful and not just because I avoided putting another new feature on my to-do list (both super cool, don’t get me wrong).  But rather because here was an established way of doing things, and there exists within CA a way to do it better if only by being willing to restructure a little.

More generally speaking, it occurs to me that any established part of your coaching style is worth revisiting to see if it can’t be tailored to how CoachAccountable works.  Not for CoachAccountable’s sake, because who cares, right?  But for the sake of making your coaching better in ways that would not otherwise be possible.

Sometimes that takes shifting out of an established way of doing things, disrupting inertia in favor of giving your clients a better experience.  Don’t hesitate to ask if you could use a little guidance in how to bring your style of coaching to life with the tools of CA–with a little creativity there are some real wins to be had.

Being an Awesome Coach with CoachAccountable Actions

Actions are very much a bread-and-butter way of CoachAccountable to support your clients in following through on their coaching.  This 7 minute tutorial video walks you through how to make the most of them, including how to prepare your clients mentally to take their action plans seriously.

For reference, here’s the narration transcript:

» Continue reading “Being an Awesome Coach with CoachAccountable Actions”

Course Action Projects

Courses within CoachAccountable allow a coach to design a timeline progression of materials and assignments, to be delivered automatically according to the schedule to course participants.

Among items that can be delivered are Actions: assignments of what to do and by when, plus helpful reminders, e.g. “Read Chapter 3 of the Workbook, due 2 days from now at 5:00pm with a text reminder to be sent 24 hours prior to the deadline”.

Action Projects are a way to group separate Actions as contributing steps to the overarching goal or milestone.  With their progress meter and summary display they do a great job of visually organizing the bigger picture of tasks which your clients are undertaking.

You can now bake project structure right into your Course Actions, and CA will do the work of creating those Action Projects for your course participants.

» Continue reading “Course Action Projects”

Introducing Action Projects

Actions are CoachAccountable’s way of helping coaches structure action plans with their clients and manage completion between sessions.  Actions recently got a big leg up this week with the addition of Action Projects.

An Action Project is a way to group related actions under the banner of a single project:

How close is the project to being done?  The progress bar gives the overall picture.

How close is the project to being done? The progress bar gives the overall picture.

» Continue reading “Introducing Action Projects”

Making Actions Better

I’ve added a number of improvements to Actions lately, touching on each of ease-of-use, better collaborative communication, and more visually satisfying.

Scheduling for clients in different time zones.

Throughout CoachAccountable, times are generally in the eye of the beholder.  Meaning, for example, that if you as coach specify an action do be done at 7:00pm, that’s in your time zone, and CoachAccountable will convert it to your client’s time zone as needed.

Now, when the client’s time zone is different from yours, CoachAccountable provides you with a real-time display of what time time is implied for your client:

As you change the time, the client time changes with it.

As you change the time, the client time changes with it.

» Continue reading “Making Actions Better”

Develop Good Habits with Pseudo-Recurring Actions

Sometimes in a coaching session you might determine that you want your coachee to take on a regular practice for the coming week.  It might be some new habit that will be most beneficial by becoming engrained, or just something that simply deserves to be more than a one-time good idea.

I had this with one of my coachees, Tim, last week.  He’s exploring a new way of offering and selling his services as he moves beyond offering commodity technical services and into more sophisticated consulting.

“Try this”, I said.  “Over the next week, I want you to find 5 occasions to take just 10 minutes and ponder who you might pitch to and what you might present.  Then journal about those 10 minutes, either the ideas you got, the insights you had, or the actions you took.  Just 10 minutes, do it 5 times.”

It should be noted that this sort of thing is generally a lot to ask of someone you coach.  They have to remember to follow through not just once but on five separate occasions, and do so with a behavior that, by its very nature, is not yet natural.

But this is also very powerful: it’s building a practice that sets your coachee up to shift things on an ongoing basis.

» Continue reading “Develop Good Habits with Pseudo-Recurring Actions”

Getting more follow-through in the people you coach

When coaching engagements fail, it is far less likely to be a problem of insufficiently brilliant coaching than it is a matter of simple follow through.

Seriously.  Look in your own coaching, or mentorship or training you’ve provided for others.  Chances are high that you were quite qualified to provide the sort of coaching and guidance you were charged to provide, both in your expertise and your ability to communicate that expertise.  It’s the follow through where things typically fall apart, if they fall apart.  It’s whatever happens in the days or weeks following a coaching session when you’re no longer there while the rest of generally busy life is.  The spaces in between your coaching sessions are the real wildcard in your coaching and thus coaching results.

Life comes up.  Inspiration is perishable.  Good ideas fade.  We all wrestle with these truths as we strive to cause great outcomes with the people we coach.

With surprising regularity, follow through and failure to follow through is a just matter of awareness.  Assuming we are doing good coaching, we don’t set up our clients with an action plan that is unrealistic1.  Also assuming we are doing good coaching, we don’t set up our clients with an action plan that isn’t meaningful and worth doing.

» Continue reading “Getting more follow-through in the people you coach”

  1. At least not more than 2 weeks in a row: plans that turn out to be overly ambitious do happen, but you can always course correct and reel it back.

Reminders just got better: mark Actions done and enter Metrics via email

One of the huge wins of coaching software is to keep a running record of actions and performance metrics.  It makes it easy for you to know at a glance how your client is doing (way better than burning through precious coaching session minutes getting the progress update), allows you to give insightful support based on what is and isn’t working, and gives both you and your client a tangible sense of progress and accomplishment as records accumulate.

The key to realizing these benefits is to make it super easy for a client to keep these records up to date.  Having them log in each day to record what’s new is a lot to ask, trust me.  Over the summer I built a way for my clients to update the system by responding to text reminders, for both actions and metrics.  “Just enter your cell and set up text reminders” I told them, and this worked/works swimmingly for me and my peeps.

» Continue reading “Reminders just got better: mark Actions done and enter Metrics via email”