These are notes from a training around “the coaching habit” I recently took. The training is itself around the eponym book by Michael Bungay Stanier. I haven’t read the book, but the training was great and I recommend it if you can get it.
Stay curious a little bit longer, rush to action a little bit slower
~ Michael Bungay Stanier, The Coaching Habit
There are tons of opportunities in daily life to be coach-like. Make it a habit.
Create the habit by telling yourself “When this happens” “instead of” “I will”
Use the 7 questions to structure coaching. Use the 3Ps to dig. Use the Bookend to be impactful
Coaching: stay curious a little bit longer, rush to action a little bit slower
Discussions can be around:
- Evaluation (confirm accountability and verify forward motion)
- Feedback (something’s wrong or right)
- Teaching (up the learning curve)
- Mentoring (own scars)
- Goal - challenge to be addressed - what’s on your mind
- Reality of the situation - what is the real challenge
- Options and strategy - how can I help
- Way forward - what will you do
Coaching has outcomes on both P and PC1 (business perf, better team)
Principles: Be lazy (let other people fix things, don’t jump on it), Be curious (growth mindset), Be often (every interaction with someone can be coach-like)
What coaching is:
- Doesn’t have to fix something
- Doesn’t have to be long
- Not an additional activity but a different way of doing something
(stay curious, try it out even if it’s not natural)
- Kickstart - What’s on you mind. a. Lazy: Open handed, let them do the job (go to the topic).
- AWE - And what else. a. Lazy: lets them come with next topic b. Self management tool: forces you to stay curious c. The first challenge is never the real challenge
- Focus - What’s the real challenge here for you a. P/PC (“for you”) b. Be specific to the person’s challenge rather than the team
- Foundation - What do you want a. Ask with curiosity b. Hard to answer
- Strategic - What am I going to say yes to, and if I say yes to that what must I say no to? a. Active choice explicit b. Opportunity cost c. Tackle sense of overwhelm
- Lazy - How can I help a. Don’t take assumption on how you can help / don’t be condescending. b. Force the other person to be clear on what they are asking c. Can be used answering to answer long, unclear emails.
- Learning - What was most useful for you? a. Reflect on what happened b. Figure the value and learn something from it. c. Helps turning any interaction into positive - find usefulness d. Ask for actual feedback rather than generic “was that useful” e. Don’t hesitate to ask in the middle of conversation to re-focus, and know what’s working.
These are just a toolbox to help be more coachlike.
- Creating habits: “when this happens” “Instead of” “I will”
- Practice using one question at a time
- Every interaction can be an opportunity to be coach-like
- Coaching is not adapted to every occasion, sometimes teaching, or giving feedback is the better tool.
- What is important is to just “stay curious a little bit longer”
- Use coaching in addition to these (e.g. give feedback then coach through it)
How to ask a question:
- One question at a time
- Don’t give advice - Slow down the rush to give advise (give oriented questions)
- Culture has context (e.g. North Americans say I, Europeans say we)
- Frame with “out of curiosity”
- Revert questions as a coach (what solutions do you have to do blerh -> hmm, let me ask you first: what drives your inspiration)
- Be supportive
- Use silence
“I don’t know”
- But if you had to take a guess?
- What if you knew?
- What if …?
Being more coach-like vs. preparing for coaching
- What questions will they ask. vs what questions will I ask
- Cut the intro and the smalltalk, go to action right away: ask the question
- Don’t jump into a problem, be more curious and continue asking questions
- → remember being more coach-like is not to say never give advice, never offer up options or ideas or solutions. It’s to say slow down.
- “The seduction of going into the first challenge” → Make sure you are solving the right challenge by validating first.
- Have the list ready
- What are you gonna do? What are the first steps?
- By when?
- What does success look like (how do we know you’re done)?
- How will you let me know?
- What are the consequences if you don’t get this done?
Taming the advice monster
- “I need to have the answer” advice monster
- Practice the 7 questions and notice how often they have the same or better answer as you.
- “I need to rescue them” advice monster
- The price they pay is: don’t get to be the more creative and the one that saved the situation
- Let them do the work, let them break the dependency on you.
- Why am I jumping in? Let them fix it. Why am I fixing it?
- Be lazy!
- Sometimes people just need to be heard!
- “I need to stay in control”
- Empowerment is giving control away. When coaching, you give a bit of your control
- But it’s worth it.
What’s in it for you?
- Coaching is about business performance AND culture / nurturing people (P AND P/C)
- People become more self-sufficient
- People succeeding without being overly dependent on you
- → gives you more freedom to work on your own performance
The challenge is usually on one of the 3Ps of focus:
- Immediate: Project: what’s the thing that needs to be fixed.
- Underlying: People: tackle relationships issues
- Long-term: Patterns of behavior: what’s the pattern that the person keep exhibiting
- → use this framework to identify the underlying issue.
Tricks to nurture:
- Add the words “For you” at the end of questions to add the “nurturing” side to coaching.
- Start fast, finish strong
- Kick start: “What’s on your mind”
- Learning question to finish strong: “What was useful for you”
- 6 leadership behaviors that you (From “Leadership that gets results” or here)
- Coercive: force people with threats
- Authoritative: make clear how people’s work fit it
- Affiliative: keep people happy, create harmony
- Democratic: increase flexibility and responsibility
- Pacesetting: set high standards, obsessed by better and faster
- Coaching: help people identify strength
- Coaching doesn’t mean to get rid of the rest, it’s not always the answer
Use silence. Sit with it, wait.
- People might need the silence to reflect
- Wait a little bit longer, be lazy.
Some occasions to coach:
- Customer meeting debrief
- After giving feedback
Sometimes you just have 10 minutes to coach and the person doesn’t stop talking
- Interrupt them if they go on a tangent
- “I’m sorry I’m just gonna interrupt you there”. I’m gonna stop you there. I’m sorry for interrupting but I have to ask you this question
- Then 7 questions. Default: What’s the real challenge for you
Build trust: be genuinely curious and on the person’s side.
- Non genuine:
- Fake questions: advice with a question mark.
- Give advice as actual advice
- Fake listening: having a train of thought rather than actually listening
- Really pay attention, be present
- Fake questions: advice with a question mark.
- Use the 7 questions
- Practice one question at a time
- Use the 3 P’s: Project, People, Pattern of behavior
- Add “For you” at the end of the question
- Tame the advice monster
- Use the bookend (start quick (whats on your mind), finish strong (what was useful for you)
- Don’t panic. You give up control on the conversation, persist.
Mastery & final tricks
- Start questions with what, rather than why (gather more information rather than give advice)
- Is this question about helping them, or me?
- When someone asks a particular: “how do I do X” -> reverse: “what’s the first idea you have to do that”, then “what else”
- Don’t summarize the specifics, summarize the emotional state instead “sounds like you have a lot going on”
- Fierce Love. Have the courage, don’t give up, help them. Keep asking, change questions, come back to it. Don’t give it.
- What’s on their mind? What will they be interested in?
- Which of the 3P might be the most relevant?
- What question will I use?
- What advice monster will show up?