How to have great coaching conversations at work

There are many team-building benefits of the coaching leadership style, it identifies strengths, encourages learning, accelerates self-development, drives collaboration, increases engagement, improves performance, and that is by no means a comprehensive list.

That is why we want to share with you one of the tools of a coaching leader – the coaching conversation. Coaching conversations work a little differently to the typical leader and employee discussion and can often have a transformative effect on both the employee and the organisation. So how do you have great coaching conversations at work? Here are some tips to help.

Listen carefully

A coaching conversation is about facilitating the conversation, not leading it, which requires active listening. It’s not the opportunity to use your powers of influence or persuasion, and it’s not your place to assume to know what the conversation is about or what direction it should take. Their words need to guide your response and frame the next question – so listen closely.

By listening and picking up the clues in their words and body language, you can find the right questions to help team members uncover the key issues and think more creatively about problems.

Don’t try to solve the problem

While it can be tempting to provide advice or a solution to a problem when team members come to talk to you, the purpose of a coaching conversation is to help team members uncover their own answers through inquiry, exploration and openness.

This way, they have the opportunity to understand both the issues and themselves better and identify the actions they can and need to take. When you give your team member advice or try to solve the problem for them, they won’t get the same learning, and you won’t get the most buy-in.

Ask great questions

The key to great coaching conversations is great questions. Asking the right questions will identify problems and motives, challenge beliefs and perceptions and generate ideas and solutions. They also have the power to build trust and break down walls.

We recommend taking the time to develop a list of open-ended questions that can be easily customised for different situations to ensure you are prepared for when the opportunity to have a coaching conversation presents itself.

Also, keep in mind that how you frame questions can make a huge difference in how open and relaxed people are with you. Consider the difference between being asked, “what on earth happened?” and “what do you think impacted on the results?” One question is accusatory and will result in your team member being defensive. The other is inquisitive and will help your team member uncover and share learnings.

Establish a game plan

Once the conversation has revealed the ideas, solutions or actions a team member needs to implement, the best thing you can do is to help them develop a game plan. Make sure you do this together by outlining the steps required, putting a date to it and organising a follow-up conversation or check-in to see how everything went. Accountability is one of the most critical steps in coaching and a proven way of creating real, measurable results.

Want to turn your leaders into coaching leaders? Call us today on 1300 27 83 45 to find out about our internationally accredited coaching certification program.

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