Over the last few weeks, I’ve been writing about what holds managers back from using their coaching skills to guide and develop their people. Although there are a number of reasons, a main one is that they lack a way to initiate a coaching conversation with an employee.
Basically, they just don’t know how to start. When managers don’t have clear framework for initiating coaching conversations, they tend to revert to managing in more traditional ways, by providing direction rather than support. In my last post we explored two coaching frameworks (The FUEL model and the GROW model) that can help managers enter into coaching conversations in a natural and effective way. Here is another, slightly more advanced framework, accompanied by some powerful questions that can supercharge a coaching session.
In the workplace, people enjoy receiving their managers’ support, yet they also want to be challenged, note John Blakey and Ian Day in Challenging Coaching: Going Beyond Traditional Coaching to Face the FACTS (Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2012). With this in mind, Blakey and Day developed the FACTS coaching model from frontline observations:
- F = Feedback: How can coaches provide challenging feedback that informs and inspires? How can we ensure that praise and recognition for a job well done are balanced with honest feedback on mistakes, learning, and failures?
- A = Accountability: How does a coach hold people accountable for commitments without blame or shame? How can accountability be extended from personal commitments to alignment with the values, strategy, and ethos of the wider organization?
- C = Courageous Goals: How does a coach move beyond incremental goal-setting models to those that engage the right-brain attributes of courage, excitement, inspiration, and transformation? Which models and concepts help structure coaching conversations and provide a practical road map?
- T = Tension: When is tension constructive? How can coaches practice creating and holding tension without risking burnout in key performers? How can the tension in a conversation be calibrated and dynamically adjusted to ensure peak performance? When does tension go too far and damage the underlying relationships?
- S = Systems Thinking: How can a coach stay sensitive to “big-picture” issues like ethics, diversity and the environment without losing focus on bottom-line results? What can be learned from the world of systems thinking that enables the coach to be a positive agent of change for the wider organization? What is the role of intuition in guiding interventions that reach beyond the immediate coachee and touch on deeper organizational change?
You may have already gathered that the FACTS approach requires you to have mastered your core coaching skills (intent listening, asking vital questions). The FACTS approach is a launch pad for high performance and change.
Managers who avoid coaching often struggle with how to start a coaching conversation. They don’t know how to enter into one with their employees, so they don’t even try. In the absence of deep, hour-long coaching sessions, a manager can use a few key questions to realize change and growth.
Michael Bungay Stanier shares seven core questions to open coaching conversations in The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever (Box of Crayons Press, 2016). If you struggle with how to start a coaching conversation, try one of these questions and see what comes of it:
- What’s on your mind?
- What else?
- What’s the real challenge here for you?
- What do you want?
- How can I help?
- If you’re saying “yes” to this, to what are you saying “no”?
- What was most useful for you?
Managers who effectively use their coaching skills will boost team performance and foster employee growth and development. I’ve seen it time and time again in every organization I work with. You can achieve stellar results if you lose your fear of initiating coaching conversations. By utilizing a simple coaching framework and asking powerful questions, you’ll begin to enjoy coaching conversations that are short, simple, and provocative.
What do you think about using coaching conversations for managing? Do any of the coaching frameworks appeal to you more than the others? Why? I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached here and on LinkedIn.