Coaching Skills in Tough Workplace Conversations

Life Coaching

Coaching questions and a coaching approach help make the best of tough conversations.  In the previous blog we shared questions to use in routine conversations.  The same set of questions are the starting point for tough conversations.  Then, when you have set the tone for the meeting, you can productively continue with a coaching approach to address challenges.

Coaching Skills in Tough Workplace Conversations

For the manager or supervisor dealing with someone who is not meeting expectations, use coaching skills to ask more questions.  Choose from the following options for tough conversations:

  • What is your understanding of the responsibilities of your job?
    • What is your understanding of the expectations?
    • Given the responsibilities and the expectations, what is/are the gap(s) you recognize in your performance?

Add as appropriate.

  • I have specific input / observations to give you and then I want to support you figuring out what you want to do with the feedback.
  • Currently the work you are doing is not meeting expectations (insert specifics here).
    • What is your awareness of the impact this has on customers?
    • What is the impact on your colleagues?
    • How does it impact your opportunities?
    • What do you want?
    • How will you course correct?

To address a specific problem, tardiness for example, consider this coaching approach:

  • Recognizing that there are outside obligations that impact timeliness and that timelines are required, how will you ensure you are on time?
    • What resources do you have?
    • What resources do you want?

Quite simply, the more a manager or supervisor is telling the employee about the problem, the less processing they are doing.  When coaching skills are used, the employee has the option of figuring it out and changing in a way they can effectively cope with and manage.

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