Coaching Through Questions
By Peg Ayers
As Supervisors and Managers, we often feel we must have all the answers. We need to share our great experience and knowledge with those on our teams. We’ve been promoted for our skills, and we need to make sure everybody understands that. This can lead to coaching conversations where we spend more time talking than listening. If your goal is to develop your people, consider spending more time listening and less time instructing.
Why listen instead of talking?
- Buy In: Everybody’s more interested in doing something when it’s their idea.
- Credibility: Showing a willingness to learn and to consider another point of view earns you major points and makes your people more likely to listen when you DO speak.
- Understanding: You don’t know people’s motives and values; you just know about the behavior you see. The only way to learn what motivates someone is to let them speak.
What questions can you ask in Quality Monitoring and Coaching that will lead to greater understanding and development?
- What were you really happy with in that interaction?
- What do you wish you’d done differently?
- How did you connect with that customer?
- What did that customer want from you? How did you show your understanding of that?
- What will you do differently next time and what results do you expect?
You won’t be asking every question every time. Each coaching interaction is different, and some people need more specific coaching and assistance than others.
In addition to Quality Monitoring coaching, you’ll also be conducting general coaching sessions about where the employee’s performance is now and how it could be improved. In these meetings, questions like this can create dialogue:
- Tell me about a recent customer interaction you had that you feel was really successful.
- What made it successful?
- Was the customer as happy with it as you were? Why or why not?
- How did this interaction serve the customer and the organization well?
- Tell me about a customer interaction you didn’t feel went well.
- What was unsatisfactory about it?
- What do you wish had happened differently?
- How could you create that different outcome in the future?
- Why would that be better for you, the organization and the customer?
- What are you most satisfied with in your current performance?
- How can we build on that?
- What are you least satisfied with in your current performance?
- What would you like to do differently?
- What would the result be if you made that change?
- How would that serve our department and our customers?
What about career path conversations, where you want to think more about the future and the bigger career picture for your employee? Helpful questions here might be:
- What are you enjoying most about what you’re doing now?
- What do you enjoy least in your current position?
- When you look around the department (or organization), do you see people doing things you’d like to do?
- What skills do you think are needed in these other positions? Which of those do you have, and which need developing?
- What challenges would you face if you had a position like that?
No matter the subject, you want to be comfortable with a long pause before answers, because not everyone is comfortable speaking up. It’s up to you to create a safe space for dialogue. Your engaged employees will appreciate the chance to give thought and voice to their own performance and how they can improve it. Allowing those opportunities will lead to greater employee engagement.
The most important question, the one that should be asked in every interaction, is “What can I do to help/support you?’ Then really listen to the answers, which may include some surprises and may lead to great improvements for your organization and your team.
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