By Steve Hansen, PCC. Over the years every executive coach hones his/her skills and begins to develop a ‘toolbox’ of practices and techniques that help their clients become more effective in the workplace. These ‘tools’ are used strategically as we actively listen to our clients. Like someone in the trades, we see when a particular tool will work best given the situation that is in front of us. Since coaching is an inquiry process, many of the ‘tools’ are questions or focuses that lead the client to a considered answer. I’m going to share a number of them and encourage you to try some of them on as you coach your direct reports.
One of the most important practices is to “Follow the thread of the conversation.” This requires careful listening to how your direct report responds to your questions. Following the tread means that you look to deepen your understanding of what your DR is communicating. So rather than changing the subject by asking a fresh question, you respond to what’s been said with a question that seeks to understand more of what he/she means or what his/her experience is. This is a foundational focus of coaching and well worth becoming experienced in. Click here for more about listening skills.
Another effective coaching practice is to ask powerful questions. Here are some examples:
- “What successes have you had in the past?” This question can help when you think the person may have been successful with a similar issue in the past. They can then see the similarities to the current issue as a means for them to figure out what to do. This helps them develop by building on their experience and strengths.
- “What’s the other’s point of view? What does the other person need?” This can be a helpful question to a DR who is having difficulty seeing both sides of an issue. Getting out of one’s own point of view and into the other’s can help begin to bridge the two perspectives and shape a better outcome.
- “What do you really want? What’s most important to you?” These questions can move someone stuck in the problem-solving mode into considering the outcome they are looking for. From that perspective it can become clearer what needs to happen with the problem at hand.
Coaching your direct reports requires slowing down and getting out of the fast-paced managing mode. As coaches we look to create a safe space where people feel comfortable speaking their truth and exploring different possibilities. That’s when the real deal happens.
Questions for Steve? Reach out to him to schedule a consultation!