In the work I do, I’ve been observing that many managers don’t use coaching conversation checklists as often as they could.

A coaching conversation checklist could look like this (from Zenger and Stinnett, The Extraordinary Coach):

  1. F = Frame the Conversation
  2. U = Understand the Current State
  3. E = Explore the Desired State
  4. L = Lay Out a Success Plan

Typically in most companies, managers are excellent problem-fixers and advice-givers. They want to jump in at Step 3. Many tend to skip over Steps 1 and 2, because managers have a bias for action. They may be more comfortable when they solve a problem quickly and influence action from others.

But that is a big trap. Instead of pouncing on the first viable solution, it’s worthwhile to explore alternatives. Managers can show their people how to think things through so that the right target becomes the objective. It’s important to let the coachee do most of the talking to find what matters most to her. If the employee’s vision is too small, the manager can help her explore broader objectives.

Here are some tips on this third part of the coaching conversation:

  • Don’t rush into problem solving; create the ideal vision and generate more alternatives for achieving that vision.
  • Resist the tendency to go with the first option.
  • As the manager, you can negotiate and influence what the measures of success must include.
  • If the coachee comes up with at least three alternatives to consider, the coachee will end up with a more robust and effective solution.
  • If the coachee gets stuck, offer to become a brainstorming partner.
  • Explore possible barriers and look for alternatives.

In your work are you engaging in coaching conversations? I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me here or on LinkedIn.