Stop, start, continue

A model for beginning the new year

January is upon us. The first month of a new year always triggers my thinking about Janus, that Roman god of beginnings and transitions. He is pictured as having two faces, one looking to the past and one looking to the future.  A new year is a time that many, if not most, of us reflect on the past year and think about the changes we want to incorporate into the new one.

When coaching teams, it is helpful to use tools to organize this reflection process. The 360 feedback system can facilitate positive change if administered in the right environment and with the right care. It takes a big investment of time and money to do it right. Even then, it can cause more anxiety than inspiration for professional growth. As one employee said, “Oh great, now I have 15 people telling me how I screwed up.”


Looking forward to 2017, I thought about changes I want to make in my own life, professional and personal. I chose to use the “quick and dirty” Stop Start Continue model, which has been very helpful in working with teams. I thought, “Let’s see how this works for shaping my own choices for behavioral change.” It was helpful and brought simplicity and focus to the process – which is still going on as I write.

So, I thought I’d pass it on to you.

I began with giving myself some reflection time to think about what I’ve been doing in my coaching practice. What is not working so well? The answers will form the list of what I should stop. You can always ask for feedback from your reports or your clients, but I think if we are honest with ourselves, we can come up with the list on our own. It might be something simple and something you’ve told yourself to stop many times before. It might be talking too much and listening too little.

Next, reflect on what you should start. You probably can answer this on your own as well. In my case, I want to start beginning each coaching call with a healthy review of the last call. I believe that will serve my clients better and provide continuity in the coaching. You will have your own list, probably generated from slips of thoughts you’ve had many times but never turned into action.

What do you want to continue? These are probably your best practices. Perhaps you believe you have no need to reflect on these. The thing is, most of us are not really good cheerleaders for ourselves. If someone excels in metrics, she thinks it is easy and everyone could do as well. We do need self-recognition. This is where you pat yourself on the back and recognize your strengths, with honesty and pleasure. Do not be afraid of becoming conceited – it won’t spring up from your honest evaluation.

As I mentioned above, I used the same Stop Start Continue model in looking at my personal life also, looking at relationships, family and social activities as well as self-care.

In team coaching, I always directed individuals to write out the lists for each other and pass them through to me for “sanitizing” so the feedback was delivered with anonymity. Members were encouraged to avoid getting hung up on who said what, and they usually focused on the value of the feedback instead.

I did not know how it would work with one individual giving and receiving the feedback. I found it useful and more structured than creating a list of New Year’s resolutions – which has never been an effective change mechanism for me. I hope you play around with the model and find it helpful for you as you enter the new year.

Feel free to change the model into one that fits the outcomes you want in 2017 and beyond.

-Jo Gorissen is a certified transition coach and a former Milwaukee-area resident. She can be reached at

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