Topmind Blogs

Develop Your Coaching Habits

Develop Your Coaching Habits



This week’s Book Summary is about the book: The Coaching Habit – by Michael Bungay Stanier




Our mission is to improve the lives of leaders like you by helping you get a bit better every single day. Today, you might finish reading this blog not just a BIT better, but A WHOLE LOT better! This week’s blog and Top-Mind-Map is about COACHING. Here, you will learn seven essential questions to ask your employees in order for them to develop new behaviors that will eventually turn into positive and effective habits.



Here are the Seven Essential Questions You Should Know:



1. The “Kick Start” Question



Even while working as a leader, your coaching mode should always be on because this is a regular part of office life. Instead of initiating questions about work, try asking, “What’s on your mind?” This will crack the manager-employee barrier and create a more open discussion. After giving the kick start question, you can proceed with your conversation by asking about the 3P’s – Projects, People, and Patterns, which are all work-related. Since you’ve opened up with a light and less pressured approach, your employees will have no trouble expressing their real thoughts and actual struggles. This will help you determine habitual behaviors in your office and unlock potential approaches to help them accomplish their jobs more efficiently.



2. The “AWE” Question



When your employee is done sharing their general thoughts, carry on by asking, “And what else?” An excellent manager-coach needs to be a good listener as well. Two-way communication will help you improve your mindfulness and enhance your self-knowledge in the office and your employees. You need to create a systematic yet approachable atmosphere in your workplace that will make discussions more free-flowing and conversations more candid. The AWE question is an effective way to deepen your understanding and shape the conversation in a more productive way. Don’t be an “Advice Monster”, be a good listener instead.



3. The “Focus” Question



There are times when you won’t attain your target answers using the first two questions. Your employees might respond incoherently leading to an unproductive conversation. When this happens to you, consider using the focus question, “What’s the real challenge here for you?” Asking this question will help you narrow down the problem and figure out what challenges you need to prioritize addressing. Don’t make quick guesses and haste on solving problems as soon as they arise. Instead, help your employees figure out their own path and tackle it with them.



4. The “Foundation” Question



One purpose of asking these kinds of questions is to determine your employees’ wants and needs in any given situation. Although it’s well-disguised in a good and casual conversation, you need to hit your goals as a manager coach. We are all driven by something personal, so asking “What do you want?” will help you discover your employees’ drive. This is also helpful when the conversation starts going around in circles and your employee is not going directly to a point. Recognizing their wants and needs will help you guide them in the right track and address each of their concerns appropriately.



5. The “Lazy” Question



An alternative question for determining your employees’ wants and needs is the lazy question. When your employee has nothing to offer to a situation but complaints, you can ask, “How can I help you?” The lazy question sets up a positive coaching moment that will set you apart from other managers who just don’t care. This sensitivity towards your employees will make them feel that you want to know and understand what they want. It will also help you check if your employee is trying to ask for something or maybe they just want to let off some steam.



6. The “Strategic” Question



Don’t try to say “yes” to every opportunity that will come on your way. You’re a manager coach, not a hero. Always ask yourself, “If you’re saying ‘yes’ to this, what are you saying ‘no’ to?” For instance, when you’re presented with a project, don’t make a hasty “yes” answer. Instead, try to elicit as much information as you can before you commit. This will buy you more time to ponder whether you should say yes or no. You should consider asking yourself, “When’s the deadline?” “How much time will it take?” or “What’s the reason for this project?”



7. The “Learning” Question



Another important part of coaching is making room for your employees to learn. Remember that as a coach, your role is to be there to assess and guide your employees when the need arises. You need to be approachable and open anytime they need help, but not as much as it would create over-dependence. Guide your employees by asking, “What was most useful for you?” Your employees will learn when they’re able to reflect on new information or processes, it’s what makes a lesson “click”!



Key Takeaway


You need to realize that Leadership extends greatly to your ability to coach. In this essence, it’s NOT about YOU, BUT about your EMPLOYEES. Coaching involves much more than just talking to people, it requires posing intelligent questions that will encourage your employees to talk about their thoughts, their work, and their concerns. Such coaches are unfortunately rare in life. In fact, a majority of employees say that coaching hasn’t helped them at work at all. If you’re a leader, how do you make sure that your coaching moments are effective?



We at TopMind have made this Visual Mind Map of “The Coaching Habit” by Michael Bungay Stanier to help you track your progress. Simply click on the link to get started!



Access your own Visual Mind Map here!


And if you want to have the A3 poster version download the PDF here:


And if you want to have the Executive Summary version download the PDF here:


I’m here for you!