Author: Michael Steiner
Elementary Coaching (The Coaching Habit)
The Coaching Habit: Research shows that classic coaching is ineffective. I bet you guessed it? Here are the numbers: A study by Blessing White showed that 73% of managers were coached, but only 23% experienced a positive result, and another 10% had a negative impact on the job! A rather strange situation, given that coaches set themselves completely different goals.
The head of the consulting company Box of Crayons, Michael Stenier, developed his coaching method, which is amazingly simple, takes a minimum of time, and, most importantly, gives excellent results. The method, which consists of only seven questions, is called the pure distillate of the vast practical experience gained during consultations with over 10,000 managers around the world. Add to this the scientific background of neuropsychology, transactional analysis, and behavioral economics, and you get an idea of the value of this book.
The author is sure that the whole coaching process can be made simple and understandable. That every manager can become a mentor for his employees, spending no more than ten minutes a day on it. Michael Stenier will teach you how to find a balance between being an expert who knows the answers and the burden of a person who, because of his high professionalism, everyone blames their problems. And of course, the “seven questions” can be used at work, in the family, and in communication with loved ones, strengthening mutual understanding, increasing trust and making relationships more mature and fruitful.
Become a Coach to Succeed
Coaching is one of the types of leadership that is highly valued in the modern world, where the development and self-realization of a person are important components of a successful career. However, managers often dismiss the idea of becoming coaches of their subordinates: they are already up to their necks, what coaching is.
Three reasons why coaching fails:
1) excessive theorizing, complexity and boredom; 2) isolation from real tasks and the need to translate lessons into the language of practice; 3) difficulty in changing ingrained habits.
Question-based coaching can also make the coach feel uncomfortable: we are so used to giving advice that we feel uncomfortable as the questioner , as if we are not competent enough and we are not in control. However, the strict logic of the “seven questions” will allow you to build confidence in yourself, and special exercises to consolidate the skills will help you learn the technique and immediately begin to apply it.
Many experts and managers often face such typical problems as:
- overdependence (you do your job so well that others constantly shift onto you what you could handle yourself);
- overload and loss of focus (you are so inundated with your own and other people’s work that you have no time to think about development and generate important ideas);
- loss of motivation (constant stress steals energy and all work seems meaningless).
The Seven Questions will help you break these vicious circles, help your employees, colleagues, customers and loved ones become more confident and effective, and you yourself can progress more successfully.
The point of coaching is to help people reach their potential.
To do this, you need to talk less and ask more – but this, too, must first be learned.
What needs to be changed
Research shows that 45% of our daily activities are automatic. Successfully changing ingrained habits requires purpose, triggers, micro-skills, careful practice, and planning. Let’s deal with them in turn.
The goal of coaching is to help other people become better, more effective, and freer.
Triggers that trigger unwanted behavior are specific situations that you need to learn to see, and the more accurately you can recognize the fateful moment, the more effective coaching will be.
Micro-skills are more useful than “big skills”. If you decide to “ask the next question instead of rushing to give advice,” you will be more likely to succeed than if you simply set the goal of “mastering the seven questions method.”
Thorough practice differs from just practice in that you hone skills one by one, doing it consistently and in different ways, keeping the focus on what you are practicing.
Planning helps you realize that the road is long and that setbacks are inevitable, and that your job is to return to new skills each time old habits get the better of you.
At the end of each coaching section, you will be able to do a reinforcement exercise that has three components: identifying a trigger, identifying an old pattern, and describing a new one. These exercises will be labeled “Questions Workshop”.The Coaching Habit
To help change, try:
- find someone who is interested in your coaching (don’t try to coach those who don’t need it first);
- implement your new coaching skills gradually;
- create a support network (this can be professional groups and communities, a trusted friend or useful applications on your smartphone);
- tune in to what will sometimes work and sometimes not, and be ready not to give up.
Master class on issues I
The first skill to learn is to ask one question and wait for an answer.The Coaching Habit
Exercise: when I asked a question – instead of immediately asking other / clarifying / related questions, I will wait for an answer to this question.The Coaching Habit
Helping the Coach: The Three Ps Model
It is necessary to distinguish between task coaching and developmental coaching. In the first case, we are talking about solving everyday pressing problems, in the second – about educating people, for which it is necessary to shift the focus of attention from the problem to the person and his approach. To start a conversation about the problems that concern the interlocutor, and to understand the essence, the author suggests using the tactics of “three P”:
- Project – Most often people easily talk about the project and the difficulties that exist on it, so the first P is a great place to start.
- Personas – Asking about the people with whom the problems are connected is also a good idea: this will provide an opportunity to learn about the relationships within the group.
- Habits – in fact, this is the most important part for coaching, namely the habits that create problems; but talking about them directly is most often inconvenient, so this P is only in third place.
Ask seven questions
Question 1. “What’s on your mind?”
“What’s on your mind?” is the fastest and correct way to start a coaching session. This question is energetic, open, personalized and immediately sets the interlocutor to the fact that the conversation will be specific and businesslike.
The question “What’s on your mind?” help to get out of the situation of fruitless communication (abstract, abstract, banal conversations, discussions of the same in a circle and exchange of remarks in the style of “Captain Obvious”) and move on to a specific meaningful conversation.
Other wording: “Let’s discuss what is most important to you now”, “What are you thinking about most right now?”
Master class on issues II
The skill is to ask the starting question “What’s on your mind?”The Coaching Habit
Exercise: When I receive a vague email, I am mired in a fruitless conversation, a colleague or boss asks for “a few minutes to talk” – instead of beating around the bush, I will ask: “What exactly is it about? What’s on your mind?”The Coaching Habit
Life hack: to soften the wording, smile and say: “Jokes aside, what exactly do you mean?”The Coaching Habit
Question 2. “So, what else?”
Seemingly very simple, this question opens the way to new ideas, wisdom, confidence, self-confidence – perhaps simply because it encourages you to think deeply about the situation.
The answer to the first question is rarely accurate and complete. Most often, at the beginning of a coaching session, a person sees only two options for solving his problem. By asking the question “So, what else?”, You encourage to come up with other solutions, the choice expands, the probability of the right decision increases.
As a coach, this question gives you a few priceless minutes to think about the situation and serves as a bridle that you throw on the inner Counselor (who, of course, is already ready to rush into battle and tell you exactly how to solve this or that problem). Our culture is deeply rooted in the desire to give advice to everyone, for any reason, and even without understanding the problem. Meanwhile, advice is a banal and ineffective answer to a problematic question.
Instead of giving advice, keep asking and listen carefully to what they tell you.
The author says that during coaching sessions he himself asks the question “So, what else?” at least three, but usually no more than five times. Usually after three or four answers you hear: “Nothing else.”
If the number of options (“and more…”) grows, stop the interlocutor: research shows that the choice of four options for solving the problem is optimal.
Master class on issues III
The skill is to ask the magic question “So, what else?”.The Coaching Habit
Exercise: When someone answers the question “What’s on your mind” – instead of starting to give advice (direct or disguised as questions), I will ask: “So, what else?” – until I hear: “Nothing else.”The Coaching Habit
Life hack: you may find it useful to say: “What else could be done here?” and “What else is important in this situation?”.The Coaching Habit
Question 3. “What is the main task for you here?”
To understand the essence of the problem and correctly focus, you need to make sure that the conversation is about exactly what needs to be addressed. There are three pitfalls here:
1) solve the wrong problem – people tend to talk not about the essence, but about the signs, secondary factors, the behavior of partners, etc .;
2) go to the abstract level – instead of looking for specific ways to solve the problem, academic discussions on related topics begin;
3) solve someone else’s problem – instead of looking for a solution, people tend to shift it onto the shoulders of managers.
The question “What is the main task for you?” helps to avoid these traps.
In this formulation, all three parts are important: the search for the task “in general”, the clarification of the task in this particular situation, and finally, personification, which allows you to set up a person to solve the problem and start acting (this is developmental coaching, which was mentioned earlier).
Life hack: if the flow of answers to a question is too large, clarify: “If you had to choose only one task, what would you stop at?”
Master class on issues IV
The skill is to ask “what-questions” instead of “why-questions”.The Coaching Habit
Exercise: When I really want to ask why… – instead of starting the question with the word WHY (which reads like “damn it!?”), I will ask a question starting with the word WHAT (“What made you do this? » etc.).The Coaching Habit
Coaching Help: How to Maintain Confidence
Appreciate pauses : if the interlocutor fell silent in response to your question, then he is thinking! This is a valuable learning moment when new neural connections are made in the brain. Remember this and don’t be nervous.
You can tell : coaching is an important skill that helps in your personal career. But if you feel that the process has stopped, you can offer your own solution – after all, this is what is expected of managers.
Remember the magic question : “So, what else?” perfect for any question. Add to taste.
Master class on issues IV
The skill is to ask the focusing question “What is the main challenge for you here?”.The Coaching Habit
Exercise: When the conversation drifts away from a specific topic, the issue becomes vague – instead of starting to give advice (direct or disguised as questions), I will ask: “What is the main challenge here for you?”The Coaching Habit
Life hack: the AskMore app contains all seven questions and allows you to mark progress in conversations with different people. Available on iTunes.The Coaching Habit
Question 4. “What do you want?”
Peter Block, author of Perfect Consulting, believes that true freedom is being an adult and interacting with adults. And being an adult means “the ability to ask for what you need and be prepared for a negative answer.”
It sounds simple, but in fact, such relationships are not so common. People usually do not understand what they want. Therefore, it is worth helping them figure it out by asking the fundamental question “What do you (really) want?”. Do not forget that the first and fastest answer is not always accurate.
People are embarrassed to say what they want. And even having plucked up courage, they often express themselves vaguely. Those who are asked also feel uncomfortable: what if the request turns out to be too complicated? The root of all these difficulties is the fear of hearing or saying no. One is afraid that he will be refused, the other – that he will have to be refused. Try to always remember that you don’t have to answer “yes” to every request. And in the same way, people have the right to refuse your requests.
To make this process more comfortable, it is worth distinguishing between wants and needs. Desires are what lies on the surface and corresponds to a given situation; a person expresses them most often. Needs are the deeper mechanisms of our actions. The author of the concept of non-violent communication, Marshall Rosenberg, identified nine such basic needs:
When asking the question “What do you want?”, try to discern the deep needs of a person behind the answers – this will make it possible to better respond to his desires. A clear understanding of each other’s needs is the basis of fruitful adult communication. A simpler needs model has only four components. Michael Stanier suggests the acronym PORA to refer to factors that affect activity and engagement levels:
- Tribe – “you are either with us or against us.” A sense of belonging to a group increases involvement, isolation – makes you sound the alarm.
- Expectations – is what is happening according to expectations or is the brain marking the situation as uncertain, and therefore dangerous?
- Rank – Does the situation increase or decrease my position in the group? If it lowers, the situation is regarded as unfavorable.
- Autonomy – do I have the right to choose? Lack of freedom is a wake-up call for the brain.
The work of a coach is to increase the PORA coefficient by all means and means. The question “What do you want?” allows you to do this.
Master class on issues V
The skill is to ask the fundamental question “What do you (really) want?”The Coaching Habit
Exercise: When the conversation starts to go in circles – instead of coming up with other people’s motives and reasons, I will ask: “What do you really want?”The Coaching Habit
Life hack: if the interlocutor cannot formulate an answer in any way, ask: “If a miracle happened, how would everything change?” This will help to discover hidden desires.The Coaching Habit
Question 5. How can I help?
Paradoxically, by helping, we raise our own status and belittle the status of the one we help. Most often, this “paradox of help” is not recognized and not indicated, however, unconscious reactions to systematic help do not go anywhere – resistance, frustration, a sense of powerlessness and irritation are growing. To understand how the desire to help others causes problems, it is useful to apply transactional analysis and consider the interaction in the Persecutor-Victim-Rescuer cycle.
The Persecutor – Victim – Rescuer cycle does not describe a person, but the roles that we take in different situations. The same person can easily switch from one role to another even during one short conversation about problems. However, after all, each of us has a favorite role – and most often, the author is sure, this is the role of the Rescuer.
By “saving” others, you deprive them of the opportunity to grow and develop and, in fact, produce Victims. Realizing this, the manager gets the opportunity to break the habit of solving all the problems of subordinates and start asking the “lazy” question “How can I help?”.
This question helps co-workers articulate their own request clearly and protects the manager from the urge to immediately start solving the problem. You stay interested but lazy!
The goal is to teach people to solve their own problems on their own. You can tell them what to do, but it’s even better to ask “How can I help” or even “What do you want from me?” to emphasize that the main task lies with the one who asks.
Master class on VI issues
The skill is to ask the lazy question “How can I help?”.The Coaching Habit
Exercise: When I feel ready to start solving someone else’s problem myself – instead of becoming a Rescuer, I will ask: “How can I help?” or “What do you want from me?”The Coaching Habit
Life hack: the wording “What do you want from me?” it is best to soften with the already known addition: “Jokes aside, what exactly do you want from me?”The Coaching Habit
Bonus from neuropsychologists: the person who asks this question (as well as other general open questions) commands more respect than the one who immediately rushes to help and advise.
Question 6. “What are you willing to give up in order to do this?”
In the modern world, employment has ceased to be a measure of success. The well-known expression “Work not harder, but better” is just empty words. The world has come to understand that in order to do one thing well, you must refuse to do something else . And the choice of “what to do and what not to do” is at the heart of every successful strategy today.
Therefore, the question “Having said YES to this, what are you ready to say NO to?” the author of The Coaching Skill calls strategic.
This question is for:
- help people clearly and clearly articulate their YES (everyone is familiar with the phrase “I never said that I was ready to do this!”);
- help them say NO of two types (“no” refusal and “no” acceptance), outlining the form of further actions.
Lifehack: Use the 3 Ps (Project, Persons, Habits) to help frame the question.The Coaching Habit
NO is slow YES
There are two types of people we find it easiest to turn down: family members and distant strangers. Everyone in the middle (particularly colleagues) easily gets our YES. It’s really hard to say no, which is why Michael Stenier suggests replacing NO with a “slow YES.” Do not rush to agree to what you are offered to do, instead ask a few questions:
- Why are you asking me?
- Who else have you asked for this?
- What does “it’s urgent” mean?
- How should it be done? And when?
- If I can only take part of this task, which one will you give me?
- What do you think I have to give up in order to do what you ask?
You can get four types of responses, of which three are satisfactory:
- stop asking and get down to business (definitely unsatisfactory, but, alas, possible);
- you get clear answers to all questions (rarely, but it happens);
- you are promised to answer questions later (great, you bought time);
- “it’s too difficult with you, I’ll find someone more accommodating!” (bingo!).
By agreeing slowly, you get the opportunity to weigh your strengths and decide what is worth doing and what is not.
If it is very difficult for you to say NO, think about the fact that you are not refusing a person, but his role / function or even an abstract object. For example, write a request on paper and, pointing at it with a pen, say: “Sorry, I say no to THAT.”
Strategic questions are not linear. The answer to one of them affects all the others, and it takes a lot of work to achieve harmonious unity. This is the same process that Eisenhower said about: “Plans are useless, planning is priceless.” Here are five strategic questions proposed by the authors of The Game to Win, Roger Martin and Alan Lafley:
- What inspires us? What game are we playing? Against who? What contribution would you like to make?
- Where do we play?
- How will we win?
- What resources do we need and how do we use them?
- What management system do we need?
However, the basic question remains the same: “What will you say NO to in order to actually say YES to what you have chosen?”
Workshop on Issues VII
The skill is to ask the strategic question “What are you willing to give up to do this?”The Coaching Habit
Exercise: When I am ready to agree to do what I am asked – instead of saying YES, I will ask: “What am I willing to give up in order to do what I am asked to?”The Coaching Habit
Life hack: encourage the interlocutor every time before asking the next question: “Good / very good / super / fantastic, what else?”The Coaching Habit
Question 7. “What was the most valuable thing for you?”
This question helps end any coaching session brilliantly. And it’s not just that he:
- reminds that the session was really useful;
- gives you feedback;
- makes people remember that you are a great coach and manager.
This question causes people to summarize and repeat in their own words the most useful conclusions from everything that has been said and done. This is what learning is built on, and it is this final effort of isolating the benefit and describing it that reinforces the skills you taught your colleagues throughout the session.
Life hack: this summarizing question is useful to ask not only at the end, but also at other stages of the coaching session that seem valuable and worth paying special attention to.The Coaching Habit
If you want a really impressive ending, tell your listeners what was most valuable to you – this will strengthen social contact.
Master class on issues VIII
The skill is to ask the learning question “What was the most valuable thing for you?”.The Coaching Habit
Exercise: when I’m ready to finish everything and go about my business – instead of saying: “Thank you, goodbye!” – I will ask: “What was the most valuable thing for you?” – and even (possibly) tell what I myself consider the most useful in the completed session.The Coaching Habit
Life hack: Ending a conversation on an optimistic note gives the impression that the whole session went brilliantly (even if it wasn’t quite so).The Coaching Habit
Advice from Michael Stenier
In the age of social media, email and instant communications, use every channel to ask the “seven questions.” Don’t rush to respond to emails filled with questions and solve the problems of everyone who contacted you through Facebook.
Master class on issues IX
The skill is to ask the “seven questions” in daily work.The Coaching Habit
Exercise: When I’m ready to start giving advice and solving other people’s problems – instead of answering in detail all the questions from the email/messenger, I will decide which of the seven questions fits best and ask it.The Coaching Habit
Life hack: you will need the wording:The Coaching Habit
— Oh, yes, there is a lot of work here… What is the main challenge for you here?The Coaching Habit
— I looked through your letter. In a couple of words – tell me what you want from me?The Coaching Habit
– Before I start writing a long answer, please tell me what is the main task for you here?The Coaching Habit
Incorporate the “seven questions” into your daily life and you will see how everything changes.
Come up with your own questions that will help you follow the main rule of a good coach and leader: talk less, ask more.
Most importantly, stay engaged – this is the best “secret sauce” for coaching.
10 main thoughts
1. Modern leadership models include the training of subordinates and the development of their potential. Having mastered the skill of coaching, the manager will contribute to the success of his own career and free up valuable time for solving important tasks.
2. Question-based coaching is more effective than advice : it creates space for learning and helps people form new neural connections and good habits.
3. When choosing between “task coaching” and “development coaching”, it’s worth choosing the second one: you don’t put out the fire, but teach people to put it out on their own – this raises them to a new level.
4. To become a good coach, you need to learn three things : ask the right questions one at a time, wait for the answer to those questions, and stay interested.
5. Do not be nervous if there is a pause during the coaching session : this means that the process is ongoing and your interlocutor is learning. You can ask additional questions, and if the process is at an impasse, the manager can offer a solution.
6. In order to dispel the fog, it is useful to resort to questions according to the “three Rs” model : people easily talk about difficulties with projects and people involved in them, but sometimes they can openly talk about their own habits that lead to problems.
7. The questions that the coach asks during the session should be open and personalized – then, in search of an answer, the person will think about what he himself can do to resolve the issue.
8. The seven main questions of the session are : “What is on your mind?”, “So, what else?”, “What is the main task for you here?”, “What do you really want?”, “What do I Can I help?”, “What should I give up to do this?”, “What was the most valuable thing for you?”.
9. To learn how to coach effectively, you need to learn new habits and start responding with the right questions to everyday situations , such as idle chatter, emails filled with questions, and attempts to shift your work onto your shoulders.
10. The best goal for coaching is to help people become better people. But a manager who trains his subordinates does himself a favor by getting a more independent team and more time for his development.