Is that Development Goal Really Worth it?

When it came to individual development planning and
coaching, I never used to be a fan of adding a lot of muckety-muck to the
process. I’ve always felt that way when it comes to most HR and leadership
development processes – simple is always better.

I’ve developed that perspective from devoting my career as an
internal practitioner working with a lot of busy, impatient, hard-charging
executives. Given the nature of succession planning cycles, most of them ended
up scrambling to create individual development plans (IDPs) at the last minute
all at the same time, and it was my job to help them. Out of necessity, I perfected
the “45 minute drive-by IDP”.

However, I’ve learned that there are times when it’s
important to slow down, step back, and take the time to think through the implications of a development plan. After all, it’s
relatively easy to create a spiffy looking plan with all of the right buzz
words, but its hard work to actually change
your behavior. Way hard! When the going gets tough, people can give up, throw
up their hands, and tell themselves and others “that’s just the way I am”.

One way to increase the chances of changing behavior is to ask
yourself or others that you are coaching a few “return on investment” (ROI)
questions before a development goal and actions are committed to. Taking the
time to consider the implications of changing – or not changing – will help
create the internal motivation, ownership, and commitment to change.

While you don’t need to add a section to your IDP, I’d recommend
that you write down your answers to the following questions:

1. If I get better at (add the behavior you want to
improve), one benefit will be: ________. Don’t be satisfied with one of two
benefits – keep asking the question. Sometimes the most valuable benefits take
a while to bubble up.

2. How will the company or my organization benefit? See if
you can connect the dots to your organization’s mission and measurable
objectives.

3. How will changing this behavior help me achieve my
business and personal objectives?

4. What will happen if I don’t change?

5. What will be the cost of changing this behavior? Even
where there are lots of benefits to change, all change comes at a price. What
will you lose by changing? What will you have to give up? How much effort will
it take?

Once you’ve answered each of these questions (or the person
you are coaching has), decide if it’s really worth changing the behavior. People
won’t change their behavior if they don’t want to – and neither will you. Even
if there a lot of positive benefits to changing, it just might not be worth the
cost and effort. The point is, you (or someone else) need to make a decision. Only then should you move on
to deciding how you’re going to change. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time.

Learning a new behavior, or eliminating a bad habit, takes a
lot of discipline, practice and a dose of humility. No one gets it right the
first time, and it takes up to a year to get completely comfortable with it. Going
back and reviewing the answers to these five questions might just give you the
inspiration you need to stick with it.

Note: Credit and thanks for these coaching “ROI” questions goes to executive
coaches Mary, Susan, and Marshall Goldsmith.