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:
- 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.
- 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
“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 –