Feedback is backward-looking and corrective. It doesn’t allow for exploration or possibility.

Coaching is preparative. It involves less telling and more questioning.





The Coaching Habit

by Michael Bungay Stanier

michael bungay stanier
ockquote>Talk less and ask more.

Your advice is not as good
As you think it is.

"What's on your mind?"

This question is open enough that it grants your team member autonomy to guide the conversation whichever way they’d like, while also being focused on cutting right to the chase and getting after what matters most to them.

Once they’ve shared what’s on their mind, simply say, “So, there are three sides of [insert problem] that we can look at here — people, project, or patterns. Where do you want to start?”

The Coaching Habit: The AWE Question

“And what else?”

Ask this question more than once. Stanier says he typically asks it at least three times, and rarely more than 5 times. “As a general rule, people ask this question too few times rather than too many,” he says.

This question slows you down and holds you back from giving advice too soon. Too many leaders are quick to jump into problem-solving mode.

While this might feel helpful to you in the moment, it doesn’t teach your team members how to solve problems for themselves.

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

When we jump into problem-solving before we have a complete understanding of the issue from the employee’s point of view, we tend to solve the part of the problem that we assume they are struggling with which may or may not be accurate.

By asking this question, you’ll get a clear picture of the precise element that your team member is struggling with. 

Now, you’re ready to help them explore their options to achieve better outcomes.

seth godin
"A manager can’t make change because that’s not his job. His job is to complete tasks assigned to him by someone else in the factory. Leaders, on the other hand, don’t care very much for organizational structure or the official blessing of whatever factory they work for. They use passion and ideas to lead people, as opposed to using threats and bureaucracy to manage them. Leaders must become aware of how the organization works, because this awareness allows them to change it.”

If you're not uncomfortable in your work as a leader, then you're probably not living up to your potential. 

Gain followers. Make change. Get uncomfortable.

seth godin
"Managers manage a process they’ve seen before, and they react to the outside world, striving to make that process as fast and as cheap as possible. Leadership, on the other hand, is about creating change that you believe in.”
The Difference Between Managers and Leaders

Where managers have employees, leaders have followers. 

Where managers make widgets, leaders make a change.

The ADP Research Institute’s research revealed two main drivers of resilience which are:

  1. Resilience is a reactive state of mind created by exposure to suffering.
  2. The more tangible the threat, the more resilient we become.
The Leader's Role in Building Workplace Resilience

"Humans do not function well when our senior leaders gloss over the reality. We don’t need them to sugarcoat in order to make us feel better. It won’t. It is far more frightening, and damaging to the psyche, to downplay tough or dark realities, or to pretend they don’t exist, because then we allow our imaginations to run riot, and who knows what kind of demons we can conjure in our mind’s eye.” - Marcus Buckingham

Leaders Can Build Workplace Resilience by Exposing Their Team to Suffering

Buckingham says resilience levels increase the more intimately exposed your team members are to suffering. They looked at people who had personal connections affected by Covid-19 to prove this.

“Instead of downplaying the reality, tell it to us straight. Don’t rush us back to normal in an effort to assuage our fear and anxiety. Instead, describe in detail what the threat actually is." - Marcus Buckingham

Leaders Can Build Their Team's Resilience by Getting Specific

In addition to transparently exposing our teams to tough realities, we develop resilience in our team members when we get specific about what suffering means for them. 

They looked at people who experienced changes at work related to Covid-19 to prove this.

"Show us up close and personal what real-world changes we will have to make in our lives, and tell us the truth about how these changes are designed to protect us. Show us in practice what our ‘new normal’ is and why, and then trust us to figure out how to live happily and healthily inside this new normal.” - Marcus Buckingham

Reason #1 Why People Resist Change & How To Help

Reason: They are too full of fear and emotions and fears to think straight.

The Fix: As soon as you hear a new idea, your brain categorizes it as 'good' or 'bad.' Create space for the team to consider a third category - the 'interesting' elements of the change. To do this, pull the team together, grab a whiteboard (virtual or otherwise), sketch out these three columns, and facilitate a discussion exploring each.

Reason #2 Why People Resist Change & How To Help

Reason: They don't know how big a deal the change actually is. Have you ever started a project so overwhelming that you didn’t even know where to start? This is how change can feel, too.

The Fix: Try using the 4-door approach to give the change some edges.

  1. What are the things we used to be able to do and still can?
  2. What are the things we couldn’t do before and still can’t?
  3. What are the things we used to do but can’t now?
  4. What are the things we couldn’t do before but can now?
Image for post
Reason #3 Why People Resist Change & How To Help

Reason: They don't see how they fit into any of it. This reason highlights the difference between ownership and authorship of a change.

The Fix: Ownership doesn't work, but authorship does. Try using the renovator's delight approach to help the team become authors of change.

  1. What do you want to keep going forward
  2. What do you want to chuck?
  3. What do you want to change?
  4. What do you want to add?
“You can keep things the same or you can make a difference. You cannot do both. That is the choice you’ve got to make.”

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