Coaching: Asking the Right Questions


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This webinar features content from Karen's workshop and talk at the Lean Enterprise Institute and Lean Frontiers Coaching Summit, held on July 29 & 30, 2014 in Long Beach, California.

Both the workshop and talk focus on learning how to break the "telling" habit as a leader or improvement coach, and how to use the right questions at the right time to develop people more effectively and get better work results.

Published in: Business

Coaching: Asking the Right Questions

  1. Webinar July 31, 2014 Lean Coaching: Asking the Right Questions
  2.  Consultant / Coach / Facilitator / Trainer: Lean transformation & business performance improvement in all industries.  Teacher: University of California, San Diego  Author & Speaker: Karen Martin, President @KarenMartinOpEx 2013 Shingo Prize winner! 50% off for limited time on Amazon! 2
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  4. For more Coaching information See Chapter 4 - Discipline 4
  5. Learning Objectives • The role of the improvement coach • Necessary skills for improvement coaches • How to accelerate problem-solving skill building through asking the right questions at the right time • When it’s appropriate to “tell” people what to do 5
  6. 5 Observations & 1 Decree 1. There aren’t enough improvement “experts” to go around in an organization. 2. Improvement “experts” aren’t content experts (and, therefore, shouldn’t be the ones solving problems). 3. Problems aren’t being solved quickly enough. 4. Problems aren’t being solved well enough. 5. Managers don’t know enough about the improvement process. 6. Improvement can’t be delegated. 6
  7. 7 Problem-solving capabilities developed? Which target condition do you want to achieve? OR Problems solved?
  8. Two Primary Responsibilities of Managers/Leaders 8 Coaching Get work done Develop People
  9. Definitional Difficulties Mentor Coach Teacher GuideCounselor 9
  10. Improvement Coaching is more like sports coaching than executive or life coaching 10
  11. Employee Engagement – Gallup Findings 18 19 19 18 20 20 15 15 17 17 17 16 18 52 52 53 54 51 50 55 59 54 55 53 54 58 30 29 28 28 29 30 30 26 29 28 30 30 26 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 11 ACTIVELY DISENGAGED NOT ENGAGED ENGAGED 0% 100%
  12. Experiential Progression? Role Primary Focus Objective Practitioner Doing Results Facilitator Leading others in doing Primary - results; Secondary - people development Coach Teaching others how to do Primary - people development; Secondary - results 12
  13. Attaining Mastery 13 From The Outstanding Organization, p. 115
  14. Coaching Skills Self-Assessment 14
  15. 15 Assess your skills in three key areas
  16. Options for Developing PDSA Capabilities • Strategy Deployment (Hoshin Kanri) • A3 Management • Kaizen Events • Daily Kaizen / Kata 16 Macro Micro
  17. 17 Develop hypothesis Conduct experiment Measure results Refine Standardize Stabilize
  18. 18 Detailed Steps 1. Define and break down the problem. 2. Grasp the current condition. 3. Set a target condition. 4. Conduct root cause & gap analysis. 5. Identify potential countermeasures. 6. Develop & test countermeasure(s) 7. Refine and finalize countermeasure(s). 8. Implement countermeasure(s). Study Evaluate Results 9. Measure process performance. 10. Refine, standardize, & stabilize the process. 11. Monitor process performance. 12. Reflect & share learning. Adjust Do Clarifying the PDSA Cycle Plan Develop Hypothesis Conduct Experiment Refine Standardize Stabilize Phase Continuous Improvement New Problem Often 50-80% of the total time Adjust Adjust Adopt Adapt Abandon
  19. Coaching: Dual Roles REFLECTIVE DEVELOPMENT DIRECTIVE DEVELOPMENT From The Outstanding Organization, p. 117 Heavy use of Socratic questioning to assess learning, develop critical thinking, and build confidence Here, the coach serves as teacher. Beware of the difference!
  20. The Problem with “Telling” 20
  21. Warning: The Expert Turned Coach • Be aware of the juice you get from being the expert. – Replace with the juice of serving others • Avoid believing that everyone needs to think and behave the same way you do. • Avoid “the way I would do it” thinking. • Turn “THE” thing they need to learn to “A” thing they need to learn. • Be aware of moving into “do-er,” “rescuer,” or “fixer” mode. 21
  22. Socratic Questioning • Named for Socrates • Based on his belief that the deepest learning results from a disciplined practice of thoughtful questioning. – Way of assuring rigorous thinking • Open-ended questions that cause the learner to think deeply. 22
  23. 23 Socratic Questions for Problem Solving pp 196-197 in The Outstanding Organization (pp 196-197)
  24. Open vs. Closed Questions • Open-ended questions begin with: – What…? – Why…? – How…? • Closed-ended questions begin with: – Is /are…? – Do / did…? – Would / will…? – Could / can…? – Was / were…? – Have / has…? – Which…? – Who…? – When…? – Where…? 24
  25. Serving the Problem Solver If the problem solver… Potential Questions …hasn’t clearly defined the problem. What’s the problem? Why is that a problem? How do you know it’s a problem? …has framed the problem as a solution or a cause—or isn’t thinking high enough What causes that to happen? What problem will that address? What larger problem does this smaller problem cause? …operating without data or has unclear data. What about the current state is not ideal? (What “should” it be?) What is the data telling you? How does the data support your conclusion? …hasn’t uncovered the root cause(s) or hasn’t dug deeply enough. Why does that occur? How do you know that? What else might explain the current state? Only ask questions to: 1) Assess learning/understanding 2) Help the problem solver discover that he/she has more work to do. 25
  26. Questioning “Don’ts” • Masked recommendations – Disguising your recommendation as a question (and thinking that counts as a question) – “Leading the witness” • “Run on” questions – Long questions that contain multiple questions • “The inquisition” – asking question after question – Instead of pausing and allowing the person to think 26
  27. Questioning “Don’ts” (continued) • Harsh or judgmental tone • Multi-tasking or half-listening instead of engaging the person in a focused dialogue • If the problem owner asks, “What do you think?,” don’t take the bait! 27
  28. Closed questions and “telling” are acceptable when… 1. The person clearly has little or no experience with an improvement practice or tool that’s needed. 2. You’re clarifying your understanding. 3. Listen with respect and validation; listen without judgment. 4. Listen for unspoken fears, concerns, and aspirations. 5. Use all of your senses, not merely your ears. 6. Take a mental journey and walk in others’ shoes. 7. Listen without thinking about how you’re going to respond. 8. Listen with optimism and positive human regard. 9. Confirm your understanding. (“I think what you’re saying…”) 10. Listen for “why.” 11. Listen with two hats: teacher and psychologist. 28
  29. 10 Keys to Deep Listening 1. Be 100% present. 2. Listen without thinking about how you’re going to respond. 3. Listen with two hats: teacher and psychologist. 4. Seek to understand. Listen for “why.” 5. Listen with respect; listen without judgment. 6. Listen for unspoken fears, concerns, and aspirations. 7. Use all of your senses, not merely your ears. 8. Take a mental journey and walk in others’ shoes. 9. Listen with optimism and positive human regard. 10. Confirm your understanding. (“I think what you’re saying…”) 29
  30. Coaching Approach for Various Learning Stages Problem Owner’s Problem-Solving Skill Level Goal What to Ask / Do Problem-solving is spot on. Thought partner “How’s it going?” “What’s working well?” “What’s not?” “What have you learned?” “What’s been most surprising?” “What are you doing next?” “How can I help?” Problem-solving is off course and needs correction. Get person back on track Probe using Socratic questioning; turn to teaching only when needed. Problem-solving is on track, but the problem owner is having difficulty taking next steps. Build confidence; remove obstacles; create an action plan Use Socratic questioning to help person realize his/her strengths & grow competencies; provide mentoring for knowledge transfer (e.g. specific tools). 30
  31. Building Organization-wide Coaching Capabilities Executive Team Senior Leaders Middle Managers Frontlines Second Coach Second Coach Second Coach 31
  32. Skill Development Progression* 32 Unconscious Incompetence Conscious Incompetence Conscious Competence * Attributed to Noel Burch, Gordon Training International Start Goal Unconscious Competence Consciousness Competence 1 4 32
  33. PDSA for Improvement Coaches Prepare for Coaching Session Hold Coaching Session Reflect on Coaching Session Adjust for Next Coaching Session 33
  34. Attaining Mastery 34 From The Outstanding Organization, p. 115
  35. Karen Martin, President 858.677.6799 @karenmartinopex Blog & newsletter: 35