Arto Eskelinen and Sami Honkonen from Reaktor held a workshop about coaching with questions. The workshop was practical and well-structured. The paradigm for the workshop was leading thought-workers and enabling the coachees autonomy in their work.
The basis for coaching by asking questions is raising awareness and responsibility of the person coached. It is not about learning facts about the situation in order to make decisions yourself, but allow the coachee to see situations from different angles.
The speakers presented the features of a good coaching question:
- Leads to exploration
- Aims at observations
- Does not lead to judgments
- Avoids unproductive states of mind
They also listed types of questions that are useful:
- How many?
- How much?
The speakers presented a framework for coaching with questions: GROW (Goal, Reality, Options, What). Each letter corresponds with a phase in the process. The process is roughly sequential, but can go back to previous phases when needed. In each phase there are things to set and types of questions to ask.
In the Goal phase the questions are supposed to lead to the coachee setting a goal for herself. In the Reality phase the coach leads the coachee to explore the current state of affairs. Next the options are explored and finally the coach leads the coachee to set a plan for achieving the objectives and following up in the What phase.
The workshop consisted of lectures intertwined with practical group exercises. The workshop format was very practical and useful – practicing formulating the actual questions related to fictional scenarios was a good way of learning.
The workshop gave food for thought, but I’m sure that mastering the art of coaching questions is a long journey of trial and error. Being a bit impatient I’m not sure if this comes to me naturally but knowing my own stubborn mind I can see that this approach is probably better than teaching facts or giving orders.
You can check out the details of the framework from the pdf on Sami Honkonen’s site.