If you have direct reports, then I hope you know that you are responsible for coaching your employees. If you don’t know that, feel free to reach out to me as I can help. For all others, as people managers we are responsible for what I call coaching for development. We have to coach in a way to develop our team member’s critical thinking skills for example. How do you do that? It’s through asking great questions. Not answers dressed up as questions or telling people what to do, what to think about, how to think, and when to think it… Many managers think they need to have all the answers. But this is not true, and it does not grow anyone in the process. It’s about asking specific questions to understand what your team members are dealing with and guiding them through a process to think through it; to truly develop your employees, you need to coach through questions.
Many years ago, I realized I had become an answer bank in many facets of my life where I wasn’t helping anyone build skills of their own; I was just answering people’s questions/giving them the answers. Well, that’s cool for awhile until more and more work piles up on you and then as you become a direct manager of a person (yes, a real human being), you realize that you are just telling people what to do. Then, you may ask a question to someone and get the “I don’t know” response. Now, you may become frustrated with this response, but upon true reflection, you will realize that this is partially on you. I was not asking questions to develop my people nor was I effectively utilizing expertise around the business. Shame on me, right? So, what did I do? Well, I started asking basic questions to see what was on other people’s mind…what were their ideas or thoughts on something. Remember, often times people have much better solutions and ideas than us.
This way of coaching through questions opened up a whole new world for me and my teams. Since then as I’ve continued on my lifelong learning journey, I came across one of my favorite books that gives us a simple and effective framework about this concept of coaching through questions; Michael Stanier’s book, “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever.” This fast read is loaded with tips and includes the following seven essential questions:
The Kickstart Question:
What's on your mind?
The AWE Question (And What Else?):
The Focus Question:
What's the real challenge here for you?
The Foundation Question:
What do you want?
The Lazy Question:
How can I help?
The Strategic Question:
If you're saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?
The Learning Question:
What was most useful for you?
Here are two tips that Michael includes in his book that especially stood out for me:
Get Comfortable with Silence
How often do we ask someone a question (like our direct report) and then if there’s 1 second of silence, we don’t know what to do...? Sometimes we get flustered with the silence, we may start asking more questions, or rambling but what we truly need to do is get comfortable with the silence. Be quiet and let the person think. It’s awesome when you can see their wheels turning.
Michael recommends not asking rhetorical questions that you are trying to disguise as advice giving. What does that mean? It means that many know we need to ask questions to develop their critical thinking and other leadership abilities, but sometimes we can’t help ourselves and want to give advice. So, this commonly leads us asking something like “Have you considered doing…XYZ…” or “Did you think about XYZ…”, when we just put our advice in a question format. I bet we all could recall a time where we’ve been guilty of this.
And, of course, Michael goes through each of the seven essential questions in detail so you truly understand the intention, how to ask it, and the research behind why it works. One of my favorite of his questions is:
The Strategic Question - If you're saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?
It’s brilliant and we should ask it; and even challenge ourselves to ask it if someone adds things to the already full plate. We often just keep on taking things on, when in reality to do a great job for ourselves, the department, and organization, we should know the priorities and focus on them.
I highly recommend you read the book, “The Coaching Habit!” Also, I can help you with coaching through development through my coaching program and the trainings I provide – just reach out!
So, my question to you – What is 1 action step you are going to build your Coaching Habit?
BONUS - To assess where you and your organization are in your employee engagement culture journey, download my “Culture Pulse: Employee Engagement Questionnaire” here: https://www.badeauconsulting.com/culturepulseeequestionnaire
Are you ready to dig into emotional intelligence, employee engagement, and leadership work? I am a People Success Strategist who uncomplicates leading humans so that we can inspire confidence back into your team. By tapping into their authentic human leadership potential, we create space for innovation and growth.
We do this through designing and implementing a system that fosters and protects a strong culture where employees are heard and understood from leadership down. In doing so, individual team members can gain confidence to bravely introduce innovative ideas and grow the company.
I look forward to providing monthly pulse points to help you stay up to date with how the workplace culture scene is evolving.
About Jaclyn T. Badeau, CPA, CGMA, MBA, EQ Certified
Jaclyn Badeau is the Founder and President of Badeau Consulting. She specializes in employee engagement initiatives that help companies inspire confidence back into their team for innovation and growth. Jaclyn’s background in cultivating high performing teams, delivering coaching and mentoring, serving as a global business risk advisor, and facilitating internal and external leadership training to a global workforce gives her the unique perspective of what employees need and what works. She is also a multi award recipient and passionate about sharing her expertise and knowledge in volunteer advisory and leadership positions roles for many associations and not-for-profits.
About Pulse Point
Pulse Point is a monthly blog to stay up to date with how the workplace culture scene is evolving.
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