Learn how to empower your employees and take back your time by asking open-ended, powerful questions, which are the bread and butter skill of coaching.
- Powerful questions are provocative questions, they're open ended and typically begin with who, what, when, where, why and how, and they're the bread and butter in your coaching tool box. Powerful questions invite your people to find clarity, self-awareness, options for action and new perspectives, and they act as little triggers to help your people come up with their own ideas and solutions. Questions like, do you like your new office? Or, are you enjoying your work with Mary? Are closed ended and they can be answered with a simple yes or no. And so they do little to encourage conversation or self-awareness. So let's reframe those questions from closed-ended to open-ended, powerful ones. What do you think about your new office? Or, how are things working with Mary? That very simple shift will encourage more thoughtfulness and draw out more insight and information. Feel free to write down what you find useful with the note taking tool. Now first a few questions for starting a cogent conversation. You might ask, what are your wins and challenges since we last spoke? Or, what would you like to focus on today? Next here are few questions to get at the substance of an issue or a challenge. What seems to be the main obstacle? Or, what's stopping you? What d'you want? The next set of questions are helpful for sourcing new perspectives. If the same thing came up again, whaddya think you'd do? Or, if we could wipe the slate clean, what would you do? What are possible solutions? And finally here are a few questions for planning an action. How could you improve the situation? What's your game plan? What are your next steps? By what day or time will you complete these steps? These questions should give you a good starting place. If you want more, I've included an expanded list in the exercise files, you can use as a cheat sheet. Here's a power tip to help you turn closed-ended questions into open-ended ones. When you feel you're about to give advice or offer criticism, pause, then start your sentence with what, or how, and improvise your way through the question. I promise you, this simple power tip will speed up your skill building immensely and even more important, it'll relieve you of the burden of constant problem solving and increase your people's self-sufficiency and confidence.
- Recall methods for probing deeper in conversations with employees.
- Determine which aspect of a challenge to avoid when determining the challenge an employee can undertake.
- Recognize questions that generate the greatest number of ideas during a brainstorming session.
- Explain the advantage of using focused feedback with an employee.
- Identify the potential benefits of listening and using open-ended questions with an employee who is unhappy with her or her job.