“Conversational competence” is an important factor in building successful teams. Asking questions first and listening intently is the mark of a manager who is also a great coach. But it is hard for managers to fit coaching into busy schedules. But asking the right questions can help managers to coach in less than 10 minutes or so. This concept is explained by Michael Bungay Stanier, in his best selling book, The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More and Change the Way You Lead Forever.
In the Forbes article below, Beth Kuhel, an executive coach herself, discusses the questions that Stanier talks about in his book. These are quick, focussed questions for managers to help their employees with quick coaching to address the issue at hand. A summary:
1. The Kickstarter Question: “What’s on your mind?” Sounds like a Facebook update but it is not. This is a great question to start a conversation, providing the space to the subordinate to start talking.
2. The A.W.E Question: “And What Else? This prods the subordinate to explore his/her own thoughts and come up with a solution himself/herself. This also gives subordinates a sense of ownership and involvement since they come up with solutions themselves.
3. The Focus Question: “What’s the real challenge here for you?” This helps narrow down the issue and address that. I think combined with the previous question, this one can be a coaching session in itself where the team member has a problem and your prodding gets him to the solution on his own.
4. The Foundation Question: “What do you want?” This question helps find the need behind the want. Someone might want to leave early but needs you to understand the causes behind it.
5. The Laziness Question: “How can I help?” This forces the team member to be clear and direct and gives you the chance to decide whether it’s the right area for you to jump into and help.
6. Strategic Question: “If you are saying yes to this, what are you saying no to? This is about saying no to certain things so that you can say yes to better, productive things.
7. The Learning Question: “What was most useful to you?” – using this at the end of a conversation helps the subordinate sum up and integrate the new knowledge. It can also help him apply this knowledge in situations later.
Listening with the intention of understanding and learning something new helps create meaningful conversations and fosters trust. Asking questions, rather than jumping to conclusions, gives people the respect they deserve and tells them that their voice matters.
Read the whole article below for the whole story on how to engage your teams through asking the right coaching questions: