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Creative Business

Coaching Style Conversations

February 27, 2013 — by Daryll Scott0

I’m often asked to help managers have ‘Coaching style’ conversations… It’s an interesting challenge.

Understandably, because they have a vested interest in the outcome, managers tend to coach in two ways:

  1. Genuine Coaching: A genuine coaching conversation transforms performance by stimulating the ‘coachee’ to find a congruent, sustainable answer. The coach may be facilitating a process to reach a positive outcome, but is flexible about what the outcome is and how it is achieved.
  2. Shitty Coaching: Shitty coaching is when you ask a load of closed or leading questions under the guise of a coaching style. It’s ‘suggesting’, ‘judging’, ‘imposing’ or ‘telling’ dressed up as coaching

For example:

“You are late, be on time.” Is telling

“Don’t you think that you should be on time?” Is telling dressed up as a question

“How can you be on time?” is better because it invites the coachee to generate options, but it also presupposes the outcome.

“What’s the story with the timekeeping?” Is a genuinely open question that does not impose the solution ‘be on time’, it invites a wider conversation that may introduce other possibilities like changing hours going to do something else.

Have a look at the examples below; in which cases are the question open and when is the questioner ‘leading the witness’:

  • Tell me more…
  • What are you trying to achieve?
  • Do you think you would have a better relationship with your boss if you were more open with her?
  • How can you be more politically aware?
  • What happened specifically?
  • Could you get here earlier?
  • What could you do instead?
  • Do you not think that the way you behaved was obstructive and that you should apologise?

In everyday conversation most questions presuppose the answer. Beware –

The intention of coaching and asking questions is to generate more choices – not less.

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