9 Coaching Questions That Can Work In Any Conversation

Coaching at its core is about stretching someone’s thinking to generate new ideas, perspectives and solutions – leading to greater accountability, self-awareness and ownership of problems.

“In one study, executive coaching at Booz Allen Hamilton returned $7.90 for every $1 the firm spent on coaching.” ― MetrixGlobal LLC

Coaching is not giving advice, suggestions or ‘things’ to think about.

When do you know to give the answer versus coach someone through something?

The answer lies in sound judgement. Good leader coaches identify and appreciate the strengths and differences that each person brings to the table and knows how to put them to full use. Doing this well requires:

  • Knowing what someone wants to engage in
  • Understanding what someone is ready for
  • Collaborating on stretch goals and setting the expectations for what success looks like
  • Knowing when to demonstrate or coach or mentor; because the conversations are really different.

People want to be empowered. People want effective feedback so they can develop skills and build confidence.

Certain questions can work in nearly any conversation – here are 9 to have in your coaching toolkit:

  • What is the result you’re looking to achieve here? (Why does that matter?)
  • What’s happening now? (How is this a problem for you?)
  • What have you tried so far? (What is missing/ getting in the way/holding you back?)
  • How have you handled something like this before? (What was the outcome?)
  • How else could you approach this? (What ideas do you have? What else can also be possible/true?)
  • What’s the first thing you’re going to do to resolve/achieve this? (eg: What would that conversation sound like when you talk with……?)
  • What resources do you need? (Does anyone else need to be involved? How else can I support you around your efforts to complete this?)
  • What are you willing to commit to doing/trying/changing (by when)? (If you couldn’t use that excuse/thing that’s stopping you anymore, how would you move forward?)
  • When would it make sense for us reconnect to ensure you have achieved the result you want?

Leading and coaching go hand in hand. 

The better your coaching questions are, the better-quality coaching conversation you’ll have. Coaching takes practice.

Coaching is an investment in upskilling your reports on how to think. What return would an incremental gain in your productivity, invested in time spent coaching your reports, have on your team engagement and performance say over the next 12 months? It’ll be worth it, wouldn’t you agree?

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