The Coaching Habit: 7 powerful questions to start coaching in no time

The Coaching Habit
The Coaching Habit

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever is a book by Michael Bungay Stanier. You’ll like the Coaching Habit tool’s extreme practicality. It offers seven questions to managers to change the way they lead. The Coaching Habit book is an excellent place to start creating a coaching habit because it focuses on simplicity and habit formation.

This is not a book about how to work as a professional coach. Its emphasis is on teaching managers basic coaching techniques. The 7 phases of The Coaching Habit are ideal for managers searching for a straightforward, doable strategy to begin coaching.

Why build a coaching habit?

Coaching can assist you in giving your colleagues and coworkers more efficient support. This is the behaviour modification that this book is all about: asking people questions more often rather than telling them what to do. To encourage and inspire their people without becoming bottlenecks, busy managers must discover creative solutions. Using a coaching strategy will assist your team members in becoming more resourceful. Three vicious cycles can be broken with the use of coaching:

  • Being overly dependent on the management;
  • Being overburdened with requests;
  • Losing touch with your team

Although coaching is not a new topic for Managers, it is still underused. Coaching should not be a once-in-a-while but a daily, informal activity. This coaching aims to help the individual trying to solve the problem rather than merely focusing on the problem itself.

Tell less and ask more. Your advice is not as good As you think it is.

Michael Bungay Stanier, The Coaching Habit

Making a new habit is as easy as identifying your trigger, what you do when it happens, and attempting to define a new behaviour. Don’t give up; start with things that are simpler and easy. Every time we do something new, we will face opposition since we are stepping outside our comfort zone. Remember, you don’t only break a bad habit; you also replace it with a good one.

Seven powerful questions will be put to you that you may use to break your tendency to speak more than you listen, give advice, and want to help immediately. Use one question at a time, always! We don’t want to overload people with too many questions.

The Coaching Habit questions

It’s crucial to remember that The Coaching Habit questions are intended to disrupt your usual response, feedback, or action patterns. So, the first thing you may inquire about when someone approaches you to share a situation and requests your opinion is:

1. The Kickstart Question What’s on your mind?

The fact that managers don’t know where to begin is one of the reasons they don’t coach more frequently than they do. This is the first question you should ask to help break the ice and start a conversation. You are not lecturing or directing them. It is a straightforward, more open inquiry that lets the respondent express what is most important to them. Moreover, it exudes confidence by allowing people to speak whatever they want.

The three P’s: projects, people, or (behavioural) patterns, might be the topic of discussion.

  • Projects: any issues relating to the content itself.
  • People: any problems with coworkers, superiors, coworkers in other departments, customers, or clients.
  • Patterns: if there is a method, you are impeding yourself and not presenting yourself most excellently.

One of these three will be the response to your question about what the collaborator is thinking, and you may then steer the conversation in that direction. After you have heard it, you will have a general understanding of what is happening and be able to assist.

2. The AWE Question: And what else?

The first or only response someone offers you is rarely the best. The simplest and fastest approach to discovering new information, opening up new avenues, and digging deeper is to ask, And what else?

With a question, And what else? Once more, you pass the ball to the other while resisting the need to speak. Both will be able to see further than what has been noted thus far once they have heard a bit more. So it’s not that you won’t ever be able to give advice or respond to questions, but you should do it at the right moment and in the proper way to avoid giving replies that are ineffectual or, in some cases, less insightful than the question itself.


3. The Focus Question: What’s the real challenge here for you?

Here is one more question of The Coaching Habit you may ask to help you break the habit of answering questions right away when you are asked: What’s the real challenge here for you?

It’s essential to keep your attention on the person you’re speaking to and to steer clear of abstractions and generalisations. By adding “for you” at the end of the inquiry, you can move your attention without detracting from the main point.

The answers to the first two questions will probably start a conversation and encourage sharing. Yet, they’re probably not highlighting the real problem. With the use of this query, you may pinpoint the main problem that has to be solved. Concentrate on the central issue rather than the minor one.

People frequently move from subject to subject during coaching conversations. There often seems to be a story behind the tale, which is another prevalent feeling. By getting to the core of the issue, this question aids in clarity.

A correct diagnosis is three-fourths the remedy.

Mahatma Gandhi

When someone discusses a subject involving someone else, you should pay attention. Use this inquiry to shift the conversation to the person you are coaching. You can only train the individual in front of you, which is an important fact to understand.

When posing this query, it may be tempting to immediately follow up with, Why is this essential to you? Try to steer clear of why-focused inquiries whenever you can.

  1. You make people defensive. If you accidentally use a tone that is even slightly off, your Why…? will sound more like What the heck were you thinking? From there, it is all downhill.
  2. You start thinking about solutions to problems. To address the issue, you need additional information. Wanting additional information, you inquire as to why. Then all of a sudden, you are back to your usual habit.

Prefer What questions over Why queries whenever possible.

4. The Foundation Question: What do you want?

The 4th question of The Coaching Habit enables people to express themselves more clearly, which enhances interaction and decision-making. It could seem like a straightforward inquiry, but how frequently have you considered what you want? The response appears much more complicated when someone else asks. We often lack the clarity necessary to ask for what we genuinely desire, lack the bravery to do so, or experience unlimited possibilities when we do.

It’s conceivable that people won’t be able to completely express their desires. Managers can therefore utilise this direct question to assist people in expressing their wants. The responses should be patiently listened to by the managers.

The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

George Bernard Shaw

Get used to be silent in response to this inquiry. Hold your tongue and avoid talking in the void. Although unpleasant, it makes room for knowledge and understanding.

Recognise the distinction between wants and needs as people express their wants. The most basic requests are wants. Needs go deeper, and identifying them helps you understand the more human driver behind the want.

5. The Lazy Question: How can I help?

This question is lazy because you don’t have to devise a solution; it forces the other person to offer one. It is excellent in two ways:

  • First of all, it compels the other person to express their desires directly
  • Second, they restrain their willingness to go out helping without knowing precisely what to do

6. The Strategic Question: If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?

Instead of jumping in half-heartedly, this question prompts the other person to think about whether he or she is prepared to commit to a decision. We must go back to the 3Ps (projects, people, and Patterns) of The Coaching Habit to make sensible decisions. What would you like to change?

  • What meetings will you no longer attend?
  • What projects do you need to halt or delay?
  • What connections will you allow to deteriorate, people?
  • What expectations must you control?

What self-defeating patterns do you need to let go of?
What habits need to be changed?


7. The Learning Question: What was most useful to you?

As a leader, you want your team members to grow, execute their jobs, and realise their full potential. The topic of listening to each other is reiterated in this final question. Telling someone something doesn’t truly help them learn it. They begin to learn and form new brain pathways until they have had a chance to remember and think about what had happened.

The last question of The Coaching Habit (What was most useful to you?)is a powerful and uplifting way to wrap up a discussion. By ending on this a useful note, you help people see and then embed the learning from the conversation and increase the likelihood that they will remember the event favourably.

Conclusion The Coaching Habit: say less, ask more

7 coaching habit questions cover most situations a manager might find themselves in. A manager needs to develop new behaviours to become a good coach. It will initially feel awkward and challenging to ask instead of tell. Coaching should be a daily, informal activity. Remember:

  • Listening is more important than talking
  • Allow the other to express their vision of what they need or desire
  • Control your willingness to provide your opinion or advice right quickly
  • Encourage the other to think and reflect: Just because you have a theory about the issue doesn’t mean it is true
  • To avoid solving the problem in parts, try to perceive the situation as a whole

David Gousset. Another great instrument to develop your coaching skills is GROW Model, 5 Questions for Effective Coaching.

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