In the first part of this series, we have read about the possible vicious cycles that people tend to fall into while managing any given team. These cycles can lead to poor management and reduce the overall productivity of the team. Thus, it is essential for a manager/leader to practice coaching as a habit. Furthermore, it is important to go about it the right way. The article then goes on to discuss the seven essential questions that should be a part of an effective coaching session.
We had discussed the first two questions, called the “Kickstart Question,” and “A.W.E. Questions.” It’s time to move on to the remaining questions and secrets. The first question coming up is the “Focus Question.”
The Focus Question has two important parts :
These questions help the coach to cut through the fog of information in the following ways :
One of the hardest things to do is to articulate what someone REALLY wants. And sometimes, even if someone knows what they want, they find it difficult to ask for it. Before we understand the Foundation Question further, let’s differentiate between wants and needs :
Want – “I would like to have this.”
Need – “I must have this.”
“Needs” are deeper than “wants” and often more difficult to identify or uncover. They are often disguised in the garb of wants. Marshall Rosenberg , the creator of Non-violent Communication, says that there are nine universal needs :
When a coach asks the question, “What do you want?”, he or she needs to listen deeper for the needs. For eg, if someone says to the coach, “I want you to talk to the VP for me,” he might really be needing protection (I’m too junior). The foundation question helps the coach to recognize the coachee’s needs in a better way.
When the coachee expresses a want or need, you need to identify a way that you can be useful, albeit in a lazy way. This leads us to our next question –
Before we explore this question any further – let’s clearly distinguish between being helpful and being effectively helpful. In trying to be helpful, if we step in and take over, often your coachee will pay a price in the future by getting caught in any of the vicious cycles.
Also, the coach has another fear while asking the Lazy Question – what if I have to say ‘Yes’ to a new piece of work, an insurmountable task, give more budget, thus making an addition to your already towering pile of responsibilities. The way to deal with this is to realize that you can always say ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ to something or even provide a middle ground.
The Lazy Question has two distinct advantages :
– It forces the coachee to make a clear and direct request.
– It stops the coach from assuming that ‘he/she’ knows how he/she can help better than the coachee.
When the coachee or coach says yes to something, there also has to be a ‘no’ to something else. This is where the “Strategic” question comes into play.
The strategic question is probably one of the most overlooked questions of the seven. This question has two distinct advantages which are as follows :
We can use the 3P Framework again to clearly identify the boundaries.
Here are some examples :
The strategic question guides the coachee towards commitment. At this point, there is only one question that is left to be asked.
The Learning Question brings a meaningful closure to the coaching conversation. It has the following distinct advantages :
This question also helps the coachee realize that the conversation was useful even though he/she may not have received any direct answers. It gives the coach feedback for future coaching conversations.
The 7 essential questions might have ended, however, your journey towards becoming a highly efficient and effective manager with ninja coaching skills has just begun! I hope this synopsis proves to be as useful to you as the book did to me. Watch this space for more such insightful and useful articles.