What makes a good coaching conversation, what is the right mindset for coaches, leaders and managers to adopt and why are conversations so important?
Xenonex believe in ‘Brilliance in results-driven leadership and coaching’.
We enlighten complex organisational structures and focus on the people behind the roles.
One of the most powerful ways of doing this is by adopting an open and honest culture, where having valuable and positive conversations is the norm. Indeed, these conversations are a key tool that a coach will use to support any organisation.
It is therefore important to understand more about these types of conversations in order that they can be as effective and impactful as possible.
Why have coaching conversations?
First of all, it is important to make the distinction between a proper coaching conversation and chit-chat. Having a coaching conversation has a goal – to create a safe space where both parties can discuss, as adults, things that will benefit the organisation they work for. These could be around problem solving or morale. They could be about development needs, or the avoidance of potential conflicts.
Either way, conversations allow for problems to be resolved and ideas to be allowed to flourish.
When everyone in an organisation understands that the right sort of conversations are encouraged, the workplace will be a more trusting and transparent environment.
What makes the right mindset for coaching conversations?
Empathy is a key tool when it comes to having meaningful conversations. Empathy is the ability to understand and share feeling and emotions. It allows us to understand such things as: what is the context of the conversation? What is the body language of the people involved – are they motivated, threatened or otherwise? Are they fully disclosing a situation or not?
Having the right mindset also means letting each other know that there is time for the conversation. It means seeing the conversation as a productive thing, not something that is preventing something else from taking place.
A word on ‘trust’: Trust is one of the most important components in open and honest relationships where conversations can flourish. The right mindset means adopting a ‘door always open’ approach to relationships. It also means that confidences are fully respected. It takes time to build trust up, and it can be lost quickly. So, a disciplined approach that ensures your team always knows you can be approached helps to build trust.
Moving from ‘Tell’ to ‘Ask’
Good coaches and coaching leaders and managers understand that listening is as important, if not more important, than speaking. A good coach knows that the answers to questions are often already within us, and by talking through any situation, these answers can surface. They will also know that conversations are, by definition, a two-way street. So, they will often prompt conversations through questioning. They ask open questions, that do not necessarily aim for the end-point of the conversation, rather allowing the other party to get to the end-point themselves.
Asking the right questions, in the right way
Let’s consider the ‘Ask’ part of this equation in more detail. A good dose of empathy will mean that a question does not feel probing, or threatening. It will provoke calm, not anxiety. It will create a conversational area that feels safe and welcoming. The right question will also not give too much information away – it will be pitched in a way that invites disclosure.
When you are asking questions, take a moment to consider your own body-language and tone of voice, too. Do you feel like an adult talking to a child? Or a parent to an adult? If so, you won’t get the most out of the conversation, which should be adult to adult, or parent to parent. If you find yourself with hands-on-hips, short of breath or using a non-conversational tone, then you are not asking questions in the right way.
Coaching conversations ‘in the moment‘
This is a key facet of a coaching. An experienced coach knows that not all coaching conversations need to take place in a formal setting. They don’t need notes to be taken, or an agenda to be followed. In fact, the more that coaching can become ‘business as usual’, the better. We can call this ‘coaching in the moment’. A positive working culture can be defined by openness and trust, where a positive and effective conversation can happen at any point. It is woven into the very fabric of a working culture.
Who does the thinking?
A high-quality coaching conversation will not necessarily explain the answers, or even sign-post. The chances are your team already know the answers themselves! As a coach, you are tapping into the inner resourcefulness of your team. Your job is to help your team identify options and solutions with a greater level of awareness and understanding.
This can be considered the holy grail of coaching conversations, as the ongoing responsibility lies with the coachee. They will become more self-sufficient. The next round of conversations will have moved on, and become more sophisticated. They are learning to learn for themselves!
This is key to developing a growth mindset. At Xenonex, we understand that results are everything. We see the clear link between an engaged, trusted workforce and goal attainment. We believe passionately that the more these habits can be learned, the greater the impact on growth and success.
Xenonex Coaching Conversation courses
Xenonex are experts in coaching, leadership and management. Coaching Conversations is just one of our brilliant courses, and can be booked by following this link: https://xenonex.co.uk/online-product/?course=coaching-conversations-fll
We also offer 1 to 1 coaching, which you can find out about here: https://xenonex.co.uk/product-category/coaching-mentoring/one-to-one-coaching/
We work with the Institute of Leadership and Management for many of our coaching courses – you can find out more about these qualifications here: https://xenonex.co.uk/product-category/coaching-mentoring/ilm-coach-training/