Deepen your coaching skills by learning the four types of conversations, which are awareness, vision, reflection, and next steps.
- In the workplace, your coaching conversations with people will be very much tied to accomplishing goals, both personal and organizational. In fact, those conversations will tend to follow a very distinct arc relative to those goals, vision, implementation, and reflection. Vision conversations typically happen at the beginning of the coaching arc. Here you want to focus on reviewing your people's accomplishments, to take stock of their strengths and repeating themes, what inspires them, what they want to learn, and how they see their career unfolding. So let's take a look at a quick example of a vision conversation with Cassidy, a team lead, and her manager, Avi, during a check-in. - I'm glad, Cassidy, we're on the same page, you know, that's, I'm impressed. - Yeah, that's wonderful. - Look one of your biggest goals this year is to excel as a team lead and then move onto directing a development crew, right? So what strengths do you already have that you think you can lean on to accomplish that? - That's a very good question. I think I'm great at translating our bigger organizational goals into actionable chunks. - I can see that. What else? - I'm also really getting good at understanding each of my team member's unique strengths and how to match those strengths to the needs of any given project. - And that is where you really shine, Cassidy. So, what trips you up? What do you think you need to learn? Well, I could do a better job of delegating for sure. (Cassidy laughs) - And what would that look like? - Let me think just one second. - Okay, one of the most important features in vision conversations is to stay open and keep drilling down into your people's answers to make sure you're not just skimming the surface, or moving into the goal setting process too quickly. You want to spend time in this part of the arc so that the goals your people set are energizing and connected to both their personal aspirations and the needs of your company. So here's a power tip for digging deeper. Keep asking the best open-ended question ever invented, which is, and what else? Now, let's move onto implementation conversations. This is where you help your people translate that self-awareness envisioning into setting goals and accountabilities. So let's pick it up with Avi and Cassidy to take things a little bit further. - So tell me, what do you need to begin delegating with more consistency? - Well, actually if I were to do what you're doing with me now, asking questions, and getting a deeper knowledge about what people need and want, I think I'd be able to trust myself to let go and give them more autonomy. - Cassidy, that's a great insight, you know. And what does that look like as a concrete next step? - Well, I think having some individual conversations first. And then, at our next team meeting, I need to make sure we're all clear about next quarter goals, make assignments from there. - Hey, what if you let everyone make their own assignments? - Right, thank you. Actually, that's a great idea. - [Avi] Great, do you think you can handle that by our next meeting? - Yeah. Yeah, I can. - So now Avi and Cassidy have some specificity, some action steps, and a basis for their next conversation. Now, let's focus on reflection conversations. Reflection is all about creating a pause in the action to anchor learning, growth, and results. You're assessing, acknowledging, and maybe even celebrating. So here's Avi and Cassidy, who's made much progress on her delegation goal. - So tell me, what made your delegating adventure so successful? - It probably sounds crazy but every time I had the impulse to give direction, I just held my tongue for five seconds. - And what is the impact of that great idea? - They all had to problem-solve on their own. I barely had to say anything. I just can't believe it's that simple. - So those are the three most common conversations you'll have with your people. Now, while we've shown each one as a distinct conversation, you'll no doubt find yourself dipping from vision, to implementation, and back again until your coachees reach their goal. So I want to leave you with another power tip. Take a page from Cassidy's playbook and every time you feel yourself about to cut to the chase and give direction, wait five seconds. The payoff for you is conserving your energy and time, and the payoff for your people is autonomy and mastery.
- 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.