Follow Up with FEELING

When I work with my clients, I often refer to myself as their “accountability” or “sparring” partner. As a coach, I connect on a weekly basis with individuals as a means to ensure that they have acted on their good intentions as they plot a course toward future goals. Holding them responsible for the completion of an action step is only a small part of the value of following up.

The main reason I check on my tribe is to support the creation of new long-term habits that will ultimately improve their performance. One way that I do this is through the FEELING model as coined by author David Rock in his book Quiet Leadership. David’s FEELING acronym stands for Facts, Emotions, Encouragement, Learning, Implications, and New Goals.

One of my clients, Jill, had an insight during our session last week, which involved compiling names within a spreadsheet as she explores a new career field. Here is how I walked through the follow up process with her:

FACTS: The first thing that I did with Jill was to get the information about what was done compared to what had been planned. I asked questions like “Did you get the excel worksheet completed?” I get Jill to be specific so when she says, “Sort-of,” I asked for clarification and found out what percentage of the spreadsheet she had finished. In Jill’s case, she captured 75% of the names she wanted to collect which was more than she had initially given herself credit for. Had she said she completed 25% of the task, I would have asked her how much thinking time she put into the action even if she didn’t complete it 100%. For instance, “Did she spend time researching or discussing it with other people?” I focused on what Jill did do vs. what she didn’t do.

EMOTIONS: Once I received the facts from Jill about how far she went with the action, the next step was to see how she felt about what she achieved. Useful questions I asked here included, “How do you feel about what you’ve done with this project?” We tend to remember things we feel strongly about. Since Jill had a good experience completing her spreadsheet, I deepened her mental wiring by focusing attention on these positive feelings. If she had had a difficult time, I would have helped her to be less tough on herself to allow a more useful conversation to follow about what she had learned.

ENCOURAGEMENT: Given that people are being stretched out of their comfort zones during our coaching sessions together, I find it vital to encourage them generously. With Jill, I acknowledged her efforts by stating, “Well done on this effort!” I also appreciated what she had to do differently and validated the challenges she surmounted.

LEARNING: Finding out what Jill was learning was the central part of following up. Without getting lost in the details, I asked Jill what she gained from almost finishing the spreadsheet. I inquired, “What did you discover about your thinking?” “What was your big insight this week?” By focusing Jill on her new habits, I had given her encouragement for the new mental wiring she was developing.

IMPLICATIONS: Once I had the facts, checked in on the emotions, encouraged her, and identified what the big learning was, next I explored the implications of what Jill had learned. I asked her, “What impact has this learning had on you?” “What are the broader implications of being able to do this now?” “Can you see any other applications of what you learned here?” This gave Jill’s new wiring even more attention and helped to make links to other parts of her brain. Jill felt really pleased with herself and realized that it would be useful to step out of the details of her daily routine more often in order to consider prospects within her network as she builds out her list of contacts.

NEW GOAL: As Jill had almost fully completed her weekly assignment, we identified the next goal to focus on. I asked her, “What action steps do you feel compelled to do now?” “What does this mean in terms of how you go forward?” Jill highlighted individuals who were key targets within the spreadsheet and decided to call two of the names from within her research. By helping Jill to recognize and further embed the positive habits she was developing, I gave her the support she needed. Framing a follow-up conversation in this way only takes a few minutes, but it can make a world of difference.