Internal Coaching Tips: Stop Multitasking and Start Multi-targeting

Getting things done is not enough. Two birds with one stone simply does not measure up. The existing paradigm is “get the result… AND”. The ubiquitous “and” represents any number of facets of the desired “result.” Increase production “and” reduce costs, hit sales targets “and” succession plan, develop competences, drive values, satisfy customers, create loyalty, innovate, these and many other results to attend to bombard our daily lives as leaders and managers. “And” this is a place where coaching adds massive value.

First of all, it is much more effective when coaching is not an “and”, as in “and on top of all that, they want me to coach”. Coaching is not an additional thing; it is a powerful approach to attending to multi-targeting. Secondly, get over the idea that multitasking is useful or even possible. Brain science has clearly exposed the myth that the brain is able to consciously attend to more than one thing at one time. Multitaskers are good at shifting attention, which works with tasks that require minimal focus. It is tiring and ineffective. It is simply impossible with tasks that require focus, though subconsciously the brain is quite capable of enabling us to walk, breath, chew gum and think about what we want for dinner. Thirdly, develop your competency as an internal coach to explore with teams or individuals, how they can achieve multiple results and aim for multiple results when coaching.

Multitargeting requires the ability to maintain focus on achieving a number of strategic targets when approaching almost every conversation. Hold in your mind the possible results than can be achieved, actively listen for openings, opportunities and potential and then develop empowering questioning skills to move your staff to develop “ways of doing and thinking” that hit multiple targets.

Some examples:

Our company is emphasising innovation, where do you see opportunities in this project to innovate?

Is there anyone on your team that would be ready to be challenged with additional responsibility on this one? Then listen. After listening, simply ask, “Why is that?” Listen for perspective not justification.

What parts of this problem/ project/ situation can you take ownership of?

Let's approach this with multiple perspectives. What are the targets currently important to us that apply in this situation? What are the implications for us?

How can we do this in a way that achieves customer satisfaction? Preserves security? Reduces costs? Improves our carbon footprint?

Asking questions like this and listening to the answers is multi-targeting in action and by doing it you will:

  • Remind yourself of the targets and develop your ability to attend to them
  • Spread the vision and share the load, for the long term
  • Create the expectation that thinking like this is valuable
  • Observe lateral thinking or lack of it, in your team or yourself
  • Develop your talent
  • Create ownership

When multi-target coaching you will discover it will seriously challenge your own ability to focus, listen differently and expand your capacity to navigate the strategic thinking zone. This is an essential skill for developing the competency of strategic focus. Begin by reflectively thinking, broadly, about all the facets of daily tasks, projects and even conflicting requirements. Resist trying to figure out how to achieve them and instead develop questions that you can ask that will create the opportunity for multiple outcomes to happen. This is easier than you think; the questions that arise in your own mind are the raw material for questions that you can tailor for your team.

Craig Mckenzie

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