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Effective Coaching - A Question of Questioning?
by Andrew Wood

Questioning is the critical component of all coaching, it is the principle that coaching is based upon and all good coaches realise that the key to unlocking an individuals potential is through a good use of questions.

In its simplest form coaching could exist on the following three questions:

What worked well?

What didn't work so well?

What will you do differently next time?

In any given developmental scenario, these questions can be used as a fail-safe approach to questioning. The output responses are what will drive an individual on to better performance.

This process is extremely simple and will work in most impromptu coaching scenarios. We have a tendency to overcomplicate processes in business and this for me really demonstrates that often the simplest methods are those that work best. Of course there are times when your coaching will need to be more specific and focused on the individuals needs.

When coaching to develop people it is usually best to avoid starting a question with ‘why?' The reason for this is that by using ‘why' we are establishing something as fact. For instance; when I ask a question like, ‘Why do you think you are not good at selling?' we are subconsciously telling that person that the idea of them not being able to sell is already established. This of course, will undermine their confidence in this area and will ensure that our work to help them meet an objective to start selling is going to be made all the harder.

An example of what you could say instead of ‘Why do you think you are not good at selling?' might be, ‘What is it about selling that you find difficult?' This could then easily be followed up by a positive question of, ‘When have you been successful at selling?' This is positive re-enforcement and will help the coachee establish the positive elements of their experience.

You may feel that this approach is not as direct. However, you should consider what it is you are trying to achieve. If you want to let someone know that they are no good at something, sure, go for the direct approach, but if you want to develop them, use effective questions.

By using questions and encouraging the individual to come up with their own answers, we are instilling a strong sense of ownership. If we as coach provide the answers, then the coachee has no reason to take action as they might not see the value. If a coachee does not complete an action they set themselves then the responsibility for failure is theirs.

Of course, the flipside of this is that success for the coachee is so much sweeter when they realise that the positive result is down to them.

This is an excerpt from the 'Coaching at Work' training materials from Trainer Bubble. You can view the complete course materials at our website -

Andrew is the Managing Director of Trainer Bubble Ltd. who provide training course materials, training games, exercises and other useful tools for trainers and managers. You can view these great training resources at our website



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