A quick exercise for you:
Today walk around the office, your neighbourhood, your gym and ask people how they are doing. 80% of the time the response you will get: “ I am really busy ”.
At any given moment, most of us experience the feeling of not having enough time to do our work. So we look for timesaving strategies to feel less stressed about our jam-packed day. After all, we get a sense of satisfaction by reducing our “to-do list”.
One of the strategies used by many busy managers to “go faster” and get things done is to provide answers to their employees and team members. In the immediate moment, it gets the job done. The employee or your peer knows what to do to progress on the project. In the long run, only one thing was taught “run to me for an answer”. In the long run, it does not save time. The employee and peer (maybe even your boss in the case of coaching upwards) has not learnt how to answer the question themself and perform at a higher level.
Here are three tiny habits that taken together will help you coach those around you:
Tiny-Coaching-Habit #1: Give less advice and show more curiosity. When someone presents you with a problem you could ask “what is the real challenge here for you?”. Followed by a silence. This helps the coachee develop insights into the situation.
Tiny-Coaching-Habit #2: Shift your focus from telling to asking. Here is a series of questions that in any given situation helps people gain insights into their work situation.
How would you tackle that situation next time? And what else could you do? What’s important right now? What else might be possible? Can you give me an example? Why do you suppose that happened? What have you tried so far? What are you going to do next? What should I be asking you now?
Tiny-Coaching-Habit #3: Allow the coachee to be the expert. People know what is best for them. The coachee is the expert on what actions they should develop. As the coach you should act as sounding board for the coachee to bounce their ideas. You role as the coach is to listen and ask questions.
Next article - how can you use “silence”?