Seven Coaching Questions

Question 1: “What’s on your mind?” 

A good opening line can make all the difference (just ask Charles Dickens, the Star Wars franchise, or any guy in a bar). The Kickstart Question starts fast and gets to the heart of the matter quickly. It cuts to what’s important while side stepping stale agendas and small talk. 

Question 2: “And what else?” 

The AWE Question keeps the flame of curiosity burning. “And what else?” may seem like three small words, but it’s actually the best coaching question in the world. That’s because someone’s first answer is never the only answer — and rarely the best answer. There are always more answers to be found and possibilities to be uncovered. Equally as important, it slows down the question asker’s “advice monster” — that part of every manager that wants to leap in, take over, and give advice/be an expert/solve the problem. 

Question 3: “What’s the real challenge here for you?” 

This is the Focus Question. It gets to the essence of the issue at hand. This question defuses the rush to action, which has many people in organizations busily and cleverly solving the wrong problems. This is the question to get you focused on solving the real problem, not just the firstproblem. 

The first three questions combine to form a powerful script for any coaching conversation, performance-review formal, or water-cooler casual. Start fast and strong, provide the opportunity for the conversation to deepen, and then bring things into focus with the next questions. 

Question 4: “What do you want?” 

This is the Foundation Question. It’s trickier than you think to answer, and many disagreements or dysfunctional relationships will untangle with this simple but difficult exchange: “Here’s what I want. What do you want?” It’s a basis for an adult relationship with those you work with, and a powerful way to understand what’s at the heart of things. 

Question 5: “How can I help?” 

It might come as a surprise that sometimes managers’ desire to be helpful can actually have a disempowering effect on the person being helped. This question counteracts that in two ways. First, it forces the other person to make a clear request, by pressing them to get clear on what it is they want or need help with. Second, the question works as a self-management tool to keep you curious and keep you lazy — it prevents you from leaping in and beginning things you think people want you to do. 

Question 6: “If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?” 

If you’re someone who feels compelled to say “yes” to every request or challenge, then this question is for you. Many of us feel overwhelmed and overcommitted; we’ve lost our focus and spread ourselves too thin. That’s why you need to ask this Strategic Question. A “yes” without an attendant “no” is an empty promise.

Question 7: “What was most useful for you?” 

Your closer is the Learning Question. It helps finish the conversation strong, rather than just fading away. Asking “What was most useful for you?” helps to reinforce learning and development. They identify the value in the conversation — something they’re likely to miss otherwise, and you get the bonus of useful feedback for your next conversation. You’re also framing every conversation with you as a useful one, something that will build and strengthen your reputation. 

From the book: The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way Your Lead Forever

CDC class of 2000 – Graduation

2 December 2000

CDClogo1 Career Development College of South-Africa

Students in computer and business courses at the Career Development College in Midrand, today received diplomas and certificates at the graduation ceremony at Halfway House Primary.

Renier Botha, lecturer and co-principal’s of the CDC Campuses in Midrand and Rosslyn, Gauteng, South-Africa: “We are proud of every student that graduated this year. Knowledge is an asset that cannot be taken from you – ever. It is a privilege to be instrumental in the education of the next generation and to help them build their life assets in knowledge.”

CDC Dec2000

Snippet from the Midrand Reporter – 2nd December 2000

At CDC our mission is:

  • to provide professional service and products such as relevant programmes in our effort to offer expert training in the Computer and Business Industry, and so contribute to the improvement of development in this sphere in South Africa.
  • Candidates who have completed their training through our college will be able to contribute constructively to the wealth and economy of our country across the widest possible spectrum of the population.
  • We endeavour to develop, not only the intellectual, but also the social and emotional needs of our students. That  is why we believe in the power of education, and in GROWTH THROUGH KNOWLEDGE.