How to Foster a Conversation Worth Having with a Coaching Client

Feb 10, 2021
How to Foster a Conversation Worth Having with a Coaching Client - Conversations Worth Having

Monday Kickstarters is a working session designed for everyone on the call to figure out how to have conversations worth having when faced with a tough situation or problem. The process is based upon the book, Conversations Worth Having.  You can listen live to this session on Vimeo.

Monday, February 8, 2021 we discussed three topics: coaching a client frustrated by a micromanager, turning around a negative relationship, and making time for project planning. Here’s how they unfolded along with a few insights for each one.

Fostering a CWH with a Coaching Client

A coaching client expresses a lot of frustration with his supervisor’s micromanagement. What are some ways to redirect him, so he’s not just venting about his boss?

  • Name it: Supervisor’s micromanagement
  • Flip it: Autonomy
  • Frame it: Trusted relations and environment
Other possible frames:
  • Support while being trusted.
  • Supervisor has confidence in his abilities
  • Supervisor trusts him to do his work
  • Fidelity of commitments and expression of employees

Generative Questions:

Other Generative Questions:
  • What would it look like if you felt trusted in that relationship? What would you bring to the relationship? What would your boss bring?”
  • How can we improve communication in between initial commitment to changed commitment? What feedback cycle can we create? How do you want to feel heard?

We are often rushed in the 30 minute Kickstarter sessions and it’s only afterwards, when we have a chance to think more deeply about the initial issue, that new awareness unfolds. As they say, hindsight is 2020.

The conversation to be framed here is actually about how the coach can frame a conversation to support the client in moving forward. What we did during the session was frame the conversation for the client, making assumptions about what they wanted. Then we asked questions based upon that. As a coach, we don’t want to be making assumptions about what our clients want, we want to ask them and then help them figure out how to move towards their desired outcomes. Let’s see what happens if we frame this for the coach, who was the one with the  challenge. Here’s one way of framing the issue:

  • Name it: Client keeps recycling frustration about the same workplace issue.
  • Flip it: The client has a way to deal with their frustration about the workplace issue.
  • Frame it: The client has a clear understanding of what they would like to have happen and they have a way to begin to move towards it.

Some of the same questions asked above may be relevant here depending upon how the client responds as you ask questions to help them get a clear understanding of what they want and how to get it:

  • What do you want your work environment to be like? (It might be autonomy and it might be they just want their ideas considered because they have some good ones.)
  • How would you like your supervisor to interact with you?
  • What are some possible ways that you can work towards this outcome with your boss?
  • What do you think would help your boss feel comfortable trying out some of your ideas?

Ensuring Project Success

People say, “We don’t have time to spend on thinking about the project, we need to just do it, so let’s not waste our time”.

  • Name it: Always in a Rush
  • Flip it:
    • Let’s plan
    • Intentionally and purposefully think through it
    • Let’s pause and plan
    • We thoughtfully plan before starting a project.
    • Planning helps save time in the long one
    • Let’s visualize what that would look like
  • Frame it:
    • Patience, Plan
    • Our team intentionally, purposefully plan our project with our why and vision in mind. (final choice)
    • Make a plan
    • Can we use this same sense of urgency toward planning the project?

Additional Generative Questions:
  • What pressures are you facing to push the project through? How can we plan the project to manage those risks?
  • What benefits do you see to stop and plan before taking action?
  • How do we ensure that we map to our vision?
  • What does the team think about how to plan the project?
  • How does the plan advance our vision?
  • What do we have, what do we need?

To invite questions about creating a plan, first make sure to clarify the outcomes of the project (what the customer is asking for and how they will use the end product). Then consider using SOAR to guide your questions. Ask questions about strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results. With project planning too often people plan immediately before asking more open-ended questions to broaden creativity and innovative thinking for how the end results might be achieved.

Negative Relationship

The HR Manager used to be a friend.  For the past 6 months things have gotten bad between us and now it is hurting my job.  When I ask her about it she says she is just busy.

  • Name it: Negative working relationship with HR Manager
  • Flip it:
    • Positive working environment (relationship)
    • Working in an open and communicative relationship
    • Partnering
    • Collaborative team
    • A collaborative, trusting working relationship.
    • Collaboration, Transparency
    • Effective relationships
    • Collaborative working relationship
    • Sharing versus competitive
  • Frame it:
    • Respectful, collaborative working relationship with HR Manager (final frame)
    • Respectful, collaborative partnership
    • Positive relationship
    • Reaching resolution
  • Generative Questions:

Additional Generative Questions:

  • How might we build trust and improve communication between us?
  • How can we have open honest communication about what is going on?
  • How can I bring more collaborative support to the HR Team?
  • What is your vision for our working relationship?
  • What outcome are you expecting from taking on extra [my] responsibilities? What do we need so each of us can do our role?

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