Begin this coaching conversation process by listening after well-thought out questions. Think of coaching as a discovery process of questions, summaries you make, additional questions, and “aha!” moments. Use numbers, a coaching tool like a goal-setting sheet, or a sales process to make the talk and discovery process easier. Use “Clear Talk” as a strategy when you have asked questions and then listened and asked additional questions, but the discovery process has not been effective. 

The first questioning strategy is “See, Say, Do.” Use questions to lead them to see the picture that shows the situation and what’s missing:

  1. Ask, “Do you see what I see?”
  2. Say what they tell you they see and then ask, “What’s the impact on __________?” (mention the area or person)
  3. Ask them, “What needs to be done or changed?” or, “What will you do about it?”, or “If you were me, what do you think I should do?”

The second questioning pattern to help you question a rep about a concern is a series of behavioral questions you may use when you need to address an issue that occurred on the job. Questions like:

  1. “What happened?” 
  2. “Why is it not your fault?” 
  3. “What could you have done differently?” 
  4. “What will you commit to doing in the future?” 

Summarize to help them and you understand and to keep helpful information flowing. As you listen, please stop at times and tell them what you hear or feel. Use these starting words to help you phrase your summary:

  1. “So, what you’re saying is …”
  2. “It sounds as though …”
  3. “It appears that …”
  4. “It seems to me that …”
  5. “Sounds like you really …”

Finally, there are times when you may just have a moment to ask one question that will make a difference. This may occur at lunch or while sharing a cup of coffee. There are 3 types of on the fly questions and using them will help both of you. They will help you as the coach gain greater understanding, and they help the person discover areas of personal growth some of which they may not have previously thought through. It can lead to profound insight.

These on the fly questions actually have the power to change a person even days afterward as the one coached continues to think about the implication of their answers in their lives:

  1. “What do you want?” 
  2. “What do you want me to do for you?” 
  3. “Let’s say you’re 3 years out from now and your life has changed and become better. What’s changed? You know … that made a difference in your work? Why was that important? What is most important for you to do this year to start making progress? How can I help you?”

When you want to go deeper for what is meaningful to a person, ask these follow-up questions (layered questions):

  1. “What about _________ is so important to you?”
  2. “Why does _________ matter?”
  3. “What frustrations will that remove?”
  4. “How will that make a difference in your life?”
  5. “How does/will that feel?”

What I have given you, I have found from the experience of many hours listening to other mentors and teachers, teaching thousands of sales managers, leaders and salespeople, and over 30 years or parenting children and grandparenting grandchildren  

Remember as you apply what you learn, think of coaching as a discovery process of questions, summaries you make, additional questions, and “aha!” moments for both you and the person. You will be the catalyst for unlocking the potential in people. That’s a humbling, purposeful, and important position to be in, and I know you will treat it with life-impacting care.

Now, go and serve people well!

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