While your purpose and plan are important for the session, it’s equally important your team members get to share with you what’s on their minds and hearts. Because they may discuss personal life details, treat this as a confidential session. They must know they can trust you to be open and honest. If you feel you must convey information to others to help a team member grow, obtain their permission before sharing it with the appropriate people.
ASKING GREAT QUESTIONS AND ACTIVE LISTENING
Masterful coaches ask thoughtful questions, diving deep below the surface to uncover limiting beliefs, skill gaps, and other challenges their team members may be confronting. These obstacles aren’t always immediately brought to the surface. As you’re coaching, read between the lines and circle back to what must be overcome for them to succeed. A somewhat direct or confrontational question, while sometimes needed, can be softened with lead-ins such as, “I’m curious,” “May I ask,” or “Tell me…” As you work through your session, ask clarifying questions; don’t be afraid to ask for additional information before you jump to giving advice. Be certain you really hear the questions they’re asking, too. “The 7 Powers of Questions,” by Dorothy Leeds is a great resource I return to time and time again. The art of asking great questions doesn’t come naturally; it’s a skill you master. I also encourage you to write down three to five powerful questions before each coaching session. You may not get through them all, but they are great for fostering interactive coaching sessions. Some examples: • “What are you avoiding that you know if you did it you would have great success?” • “What is something I don’t know about what is going on with you, that if I did know I could help you more?” • “What do you need from me to make this coaching process perfect for you?” FEED THEM WITH A TEASPOON It’s a normal tendency for someone passionate about helping their team succeed to attempt too much in a single coaching session. We expect too much to happen, too fast. When you’re tempted to do so, remind yourself to feed with a teaspoon instead of a fire hose. Recognize the possibility that the more you assign your team member, the less they might accomplish.
Worst-case, they leave each session feeling overwhelmed and eventually give up. Give them one key goal to achieve, with one or two additional small actions, and be certain they understand exactly what you expect of them. Ensure the action steps are crystal clear by asking, “How will you do it? When and where? What are the expected outcomes?” While tracking and measuring their numbers, keep them focused on achieving outcomes versus simply going through motions. Always take detailed notes on your assignments to refer to in the next session for specified inquiries about their success in completion. Everyone loves recognition for a job well done! If they haven’t successfully accomplished the agreed-upon action, don’t ask, “Why not?”Why questions can be interpreted as confrontational and generally only yield excuses. Instead, try asking, “What got in the way?”
Don’t give up easily. Remind them you believe in them.
FOCUS ON THE FUNDAMENTALS While any given coaching session could focus on myriad issues, no matter your students’ experience level, a focus on the fundamentals is always crucial. Remind your coaching students, slumps are almost always caused by some breakdown in a fundamental aspect of their
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