Planning Protocols


by Claudia Irmer


I have a dear and close friend, and she is in a managing position. I have no idea what exactly it is she does for a living, but as our relationship has no professional background, I thought it would not play a big role.

As far as I’ve gotten to know Betti, she is very dedicated and ambitious, and always tries to give her best. Some would say she is a perfectionist, but as the term has a negative ring, I won’t go over that bridge. But there is one big issue with Betti: She is always late! When we want to meet to go shopping, she is late and calls exactly at the time she was supposed to meet me. On my birthday, she called me at five minutes to midnight – at the end of the day! She has also told me that she rarely meets a deadline at work and that she is also late for her client meetings.

Although I am her friend and not her consultant or coach, I think I will share with her the importance of “planning” and following “planning protocols”. Just like an athlete, she needs to focus and block out any external distractions. Her protocol needs to be practiced over and over again, so when she is under stress, she can perform as trained.

I truly believe that the simple What, How (much), Who, and By when protocol will be the solution for Betti!

  • What: What is the task she is planning to achieve?
  • How: How will she execute the task?
  • Who: Who will she rely on, other than herself, to implement the task?
  • By when: When is she planning to get started, and by when will she be finished?

Once she has internalized this protocol, she needs to do the actual step of planning! She should plan the next day the evening before, and on Friday afternoons she should be planning her next week – and of course this also applies to months as well! I need to remind her also that a plan has to be flexible; if anything unforeseen comes up, the plan needs to be adjusted to the new given realities.

I know this works with my professional clients, but I will let you know if I have been successful in coaching a friend – watch this space!

Claudia Irmer is a Results Consultant for Cohen Brown Management. Within the European Team, Claudia covers the territory of UK, continental Europe, and the Middle East.

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