“I don’t know how to coach or mentor” is a phrase I commonly hear from leaders I work with. As you can probably attest to, many leaders are now required to incorporate coaching and mentoring into their daily work, and it is a responsibility that many understandably shy away from due to assumptions about what “coaching” and “mentoring” really are.
At the end of the day coaching and mentoring are about having engaging conversations and asking powerful questions. You don’t need to be a professional coach to coach effectively and you don’t need any special training to effectively mentor someone. Along with the genuine desire to help others to succeed, you simply need to be armed with the right tools to assist you in the mentoring and coaching process.
One of these tools is having a set of powerful questions you can draw on at anytime. Here are some of my favorites and the context to use them in:
Identifying goals or challenges to be addressed
• What is the real challenge for you?
• What areas do you want to strengthen, improve, or develop?
• What are the three most important things you would like to accomplish right now?
Gaining Insight – Digging Deeper into an Issue, Need or Goal
• Tell me more about this issue, goal, need.
• How is this issue affecting you/others?
• In what situations do you need to use this skill/knowledge?
• What tells you that you are lacking in this skill/knowledge?
• What would the ideal outcome be?
• How does this support your/the team’s larger objective?
• Why is this issue/goal important?
• What are the consequences of not reaching the goal?
• What are the consequences of not changing?
• Why is this change important?
• What have you tried so far?
• How is this similar to or different from the way you have approached this in the past?
• What worked, what didn’t, what did you learn?
• What do you believe you need to do differently?
• What if you asked for exactly what you want?
• What can you do to expand your thinking?
• What would you do if time was not an issue?
• What are some options to consider?
• And what else?
• What are the pros and cons of each option?
• What resources do you have/need?
Gaining Commitment, Encouraging Action and Creating Accountability
• What specifically are you going to do next?
• When are you going to do it?
• What strengths will you draw on to help you?
• How can you get the help/resources you need?
• What do you need to ensure you move forward?
• How can I best support you and hold you accountable for the results you want to achieve?