Coaching is a skill every manager and leader should have. A few months ago I had read the book “The Coaching Habit – Say less, ask more & change the way you lead forever” by Michael Bungay Stanier. The book is a very easy read and offers a list of 7 powerful and thoughtful questions that are important to help the coaches
- in taming the advice giving monster present within themselves.
- help the coachees discover what they can do and how to do it.
- discover and learn from the coaching process about their and coachees’ capabilities they may not have been aware of before the coaching session.
Some useful reminders and takeaways from the book for me were:
Coaching someone is not just for the coachee’s benefit. Coaching
- can break the over-dependence on the coach by helping coachee become self-sufficient.
- helps in directing the time, energy and resources of the coach’s team to solve challenges that make a difference
The 7 questions from the book are:
Question 1: “What’s on your mind?”
This is a kickstart question which invites people to talk about things that matter the most to them. The conversation can then be focussed using a 3P model i.e. to find whether the problem is centred around
- people (issues with team members/other depts. etc)
- project (challenges around actual content)
- patterns (own habits coming in the way)
Question 2: “And what else?”
Michael refers to this as a magical question since it helps in creating more insight with seemingly less effort. This question helps you in uncovering more information from the coachee, gives you time and restrains you from jumping in and giving advice immediately. This can be the simplest way to stay lazy, stay curious and tame the advice monster within yourself.
Example questions to deepen understanding and encourage participation from the coachee to share additional concerns:
- What else is on your mind?
- What else is challenging in this project?
- What else is important right now?
Question 3: “What’s the real challenge here for you?”
Instead of offering advice or solutions by asking questions such as ‘Have you considered…?’, ‘What about ..?’ this focus question can be asked.
As managers/leaders, one of the roles is to have answers but we need to try and slow down on this role. Michael says that this question gets you focused on solving the real problem, not just the first problem.
Question 4: “What do you want?”
This is the Foundation Question and is the basis for an adult relationship with those you work with.
Many people find this question difficult to answer but asking this question can help in getting into a deeper conversation quickly, for example, “This is what I want. What do you want?” This is also a powerful way to break the illusion that both parties to the conversation know what the other party wants.
Question 5: “How can I help?”
Instead of assuming that you know what the other person wants from you, ask this question. By asking this question you can get a clear request on what the other person wants or needs help with.
Michael calls this the lazy question since you are making yourself more useful to those you manage by working less hard i.e. by not working on tasks where you assumed that help was required.
Question 6: “If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?”
Many people feel compelled to say a “yes” to every request. This strategic question is a wonderful question to ask such people. If you’re someone who feels compelled to say “yes” to every request watch this video by Michael.
Question 7: “What was most useful for you?”
This is the closer question which makes people reflect on the conversation which can reinforce learning and development. Without the reflection process
- the value in the conversation may not be identified
- you may not get any feedback on the coaching process
All in all, Michael has provided simple and yet powerful questions for speed coaching that can be applied on a regular basis. Definitely a must-read book for all leaders.