ACHIEVE® is a coaching and mentoring model developed by The Coaching Centre (Dembkowski and Eldridge, 2003), building upon the foundations of the GROW model, inspired by leading thinkers such as Alan Fine, Graham Alexander and John Whitmore. It is posited as a methodical and systematic framework for coaching, but with added flexibility and feedback-reactivity compared with GROW. It was observed that leading executive coaches intuitively went above the framework outlined by GROW, so a new cyclical ACHIEVE model was formulated to accommodate this responsive plasticity, and to attain measurable and sustainable results for their clients. This model is intended to increase trust between client and coach by increasing understanding of the methods involved in goal-setting and problem-solving.
The seven stages of the ACHIEVE model outlined by the Coaching Centre are:
- A ssess current situation
- C reative brainstorming
- H one goals
- I nitiate option generation
- E valuate options
- V alid action programme design
- E ncourage momentum
Assess the current situation
During the first stage of the process, the client or mentee is encouraged to think deeply about their current situation. Increased self-awareness of their state and surroundings allows the mentee to reflect on their current issues and goals and to contextualise any future actions. It also increases understanding of how the current situation came about, which actions they took to reach this point, and how they initiated emotional responses in others.
This stage is designed to broaden the mentees perspectives and develops the foundation for behavioural change and creative solutions to current challenges. Sometimes, individuals’ perspectives can narrow when under stress – resulting in “tunnel vision” – the goal of the brainstorming stage is to open their mind and examine solutions that were not previously visible to the mentee. Mentees are moved towards a broader perspective and removes them from repetitive, unhelpful cycles of behaviour. Creative brainstorming is the foundation for goal-setting and action-planning.
In stage 3, the mentee develops specific goals from alternative solutions and suggestions which evolved during stage 2. SMART ( specific, measurable, accurate, realistic, timely ) goals are developed and refined here by feedback between coach and client. Often, individuals struggle to identify what they do want – rather, the focus is on what they do not wish to happen. It is the aim of the coach to ensure that this negative thinking does not occur, and instead the emphasis is on achievable goal formation.
Initiate option generation
At this stage in the process, the immediate steps in order to achieve the goals must be considered. The client should be aided in developing an array of possible options, rather than focusing on finding a single “right” way to act. Indeed, the volume of options at this stage should outweigh any focus on the quality or achievability of a single action.
At step 5, the actions and options generated during the previous stage will be assessed, scrutinized and prioritised. The coach begins to guide the client towards a focus, or small number of foci. It is crucial that aims are well-defined, in order to make goals appear within reach to the mentee. Though the coach may be purely executive, they may encourage that the client also applies these steps to their private lives – an aspect often not considered or analysed methodically by the mentee.
Valid action programme design
The aim of stage 6 is to put the options into action. Pragmatic approaches will be developed to break down overall goals into smaller chunks. This is when the client/mentee will commit to the plan via achievable steps of action with clear deadlines, often in writing or illustrated form. The challenge is often applying newly developed knowledge and skills from coaching and training into a workplace or other scenario, and it is the job of the mentor to guide their mentee into such a position where they have the confidence to apply themselves.
The final stage of ACHIEVE is to encourage momentum – both towards goals – and between coaching sessions. Until goals have been met, it is often difficult for individuals to remain motivated, and it is therefore the role of the coach to maintain encouragement and keep achievable goals within sight. The smallest steps and achievements must be met with encouragement and a sense of fulfilment. Small, sustainable goals and changes are the way to remain on the path towards a far larger, more distant aim.
The ACHIEVE process is flexible and repetitive, once goals have been reached – or perhaps a sustained plateau of little progress occurs – it may be suitable to begin to reassess the current situation at stage 1 and plan new steps and pathways as to how to rebuilt momentum towards the final goal.