Have you ever seen a colleague overwhelmed with work and desperately wanted to help but didn’t know how? Or maybe you work with someone who has huge potential but lacks the confidence to speak up and share their ideas?
The good news is we can all help that colleague, friend or family member…we don’t need the answers, we just need to know the right questions to ask. Here’s how…
Even if you are not a trained coach, coaching questions can be used to help people see things differently. To encourage them to take a step back and consider things from another perspective.
What’s great about coaching questions is that you can ask them anywhere: while you are making a cup of tea, on your way back to your office from a meeting, or even virtually.
Although quick to deliver, coaching questions make a long lasting impact.
The most important thing is that you must really listen to the response to your question and create a space for the person to think about their response.
Here are four challenges that people often face and coaching questions that you can use to help them overcome them:
- Feeling Overwhelmed
We’ve all been there – a long list of tasks to complete, with not enough hours achieve them in and a sense that they all need to be done now. As a result, we may work longer hours, procrastinate, or start lots of tasks that we can’t finish. I think you’ll agree that this way of working doesn’t lead to a sense of job satisfaction or fulfilment.
So how can you help?
When a colleague is feeling overwhelmed, first ask: ‘What’s gone well today?’ Answering this question will create a shift of perspective and a sense of resourcefulness in the person, reminding them that they are achieving even when it doesn’t feel like it. Next ask “What’s the important and impactful work?” This will help them to prioritise the work that really makes a difference.
2. Lack of Confidence
When we’re lacking in confidence, we don’t put ourselves forward for opportunities, we can give up on our dreams easily, and we don’t see our strengths.
Perhaps you see a colleague with huge potential that doesn’t speak up, share their knowledge and ideas and you would like to help them.
You can help them identify and internalise how their unique qualities by asking them to write down “What makes you remarkable?” Perhaps they are the first in their family to achieve their level of qualification or role, or maybe they have a special talent, or have triumphed through hardship.
You might have to share some examples from your experience to get them started. When they’ve written 5-10 things down, they could also practice actually saying what makes them remarkable out loud. This exercise comes from a google initiative that I am involved in facilitating for women and underrepresented groups called #IAmRemarkable.
I have worked with many pessimists. They are the ones asking what’s the point of the new initiative because it will make no difference, we’ve done it before, and we’re all doomed anyway. Their pessimism may not be their fault, they may have been battered by workplace experience.
To cheer people up, we often say ‘What’s the worst that could happen?” That gets people thinking about the worst-case scenario, which makes them nervous and uncomfortable and doesn’t cheer them up at all.
But what if we asked: “What’s the best that could happen?” Actually, getting someone to visualise the best with all their senses, feeling, smell, taste, sight and hearing can create a real shift in perspective.
4. Lack of Experience or Ownership
When colleagues are new or are inexperienced, they are often deferential to those more senior. This can lead to a lack of ownership or accountability.
A good way to help your colleague build their experience is to ask them “What do you think we should do?” in the given situation. This question helps them start to develop their thinking process, and also validates that their opinion is valued and gives them confidence that they are on the right path.
Which question will you try? What would you add to the list? I’d love to hear how you get on!
I hope you found this article helpful. To learn more about coaching, experience it for yourself and see the difference it makes please get in touch to arrange a coaching consultation.
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Book: The Art of Coaching by Jenny Bird and Sarah Gornall.
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Event: The Art of Reciprocity – Our expert panel of business people will discuss these questions and share strategies for reciprocation that have worked for them.