5 Keys to Holding Great Coaching Conversations

5 Keys to Holding Great Coaching Conversations

One of our most popular blogs is How to Hold Great Coaching Conversations. In this blog were we looked at how to develop people using the GROW model as the framework. In chatting with you, it seems that coaching or performance conversations are still something that you would rather avoid, so we thought it would be worthwhile to revisit how to hold great conversations. 

Here's the 5 steps you need to master if you are going to succeed at holding great coaching conversations:


Dance in the moment....Listen to conversations with people

Dance in the moment; the phrase says it all! Focus and concentrate on the next steps, listening only to the tone, mood and nuances of the person engaged in the conversation with you. Listen soulfully for meaning as they share with you their choices on how they would like to develop.

Harness the power of great questions

Great coaches ask great questions; they ask, they don’t tell! They see their purpose as the catalyst to increased self-awareness and consciousness in the people that they coach. When we demonstrate or train it is our time in the spotlight, when we adopt a coaching or mentoring approach, we need to bring great questions to the arena. For a person to change they must want to; they need to make the choice. Asking open, probing and reflective questions rather than telling them what they need to improve on is the game plan of a coach. Great questions ignite ownership as your colleague commits to and explores with you the actions they will take to enable their personal change journey..

Agree on and formalise a game plan together

Whilst your role as the coach is not to provide answers, it is definitely to assist your colleague to explore the options they can implement so that the change you both want will occur. Always use your knowledge to guide and shape them but remember that ownership and accountability of actions remains always with your colleague. A great coaching relationship evolves when you follow this rule. Once a plan is established it is critical that you provide your colleague with everything they need to enable the plan. Agree on how often you will touch base and ensure you have written your action plans with SMART goals [specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely]. Let them know you are on the sidelines cheering them on to succeed.

Be proactive and positive

As people grow it is often hard to see the ‘forest for the trees’. As the coaching journey unfolds, your role as coach changes. You now need to recognise, empathise and proactively problem solve, hurdles and challenges with your colleague as they encounter them. When learning something new there are always variables encountered that fall outside of the norm. It is in this instance that a coach steps back up to the plate, to question the circumstances that the coachee is experiencing. Acknowledging frustrations and focusing them on missing information diminishing angst, becomes the goal of the coach. Amending and updating your coaching strategies becomes the plan.

Build accountability

Accountability for all actions is paramount; both the coach and the coachee must deliver on all commitments made. Engaging in crucial conversations at the right time fosters and nurtures an environment of accountability and responsibility; building respect for all parties. Great coaches place accountability firmly at the corner stone of success.


GROW people - GROW opportunities

Coaching grows people. The framework we use to structure great coaching conversation is the GROW model. The model evolved in the 1980’s from research conducted by Sir John Whitmore, Graham Alexander and Alan Fine. GROW's four step framework walks you through conversations critical to explore if your intent is to ignite change in behaviour, or personal growth.

Let's look at the questions you explore at each stage using this framework:

1.     Establishing the Goal

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What will success look like?
  • When do you want to achieve that by? Is that realistic?
  • How will you know when you have achieved that goal? What will it look like? What report or measurement can help us in tracking your growth?
  • How does this goal impact on your career and team objectives? Do we have both in alignment?
  • What is the real value in this goal for you?

2.     Examine the Current Reality

  • What is happening now (what, where, who, when, and how often)? What is the effect or result of this?
  • How do you know this is accurate? How have you verified that this is true?
  • What other factors are relevant?
  • Where are you now in relation to your goal? Have you already taken any steps towards achieving it?
  • What skills/knowledge/attributes do you have?
  • What is working well for you right now?
  • What do you have that you are not using at the moment?
  • What’s holding you back?
  • Does achieving this goal conflict with any other goals or objectives?
  • What is really going on (intuition)?

3.     Explore the Options

  • What are your options?
  • What could you do to change the situation?
  • How have you tackled this or a similar situation before?
  • What could you do differently this time?
  • Who do you know who has encountered a similar situation?
  • Give me 5 options
  • If anything was possible what would you do?
  • Would you like a suggestion from me?
  • Which options are of interest to you?
  • Would you like to choose an option to act on?

4.     Establish the Will

  • What option, or options did you choose?
  • So, what will you do now, and by when? What else will you do?
  • On a scale of 1-10 how committed / motivated are you to doing it? What prevents this from being a 10? What could you do to bring this closer to a 10?
  • What could stop you moving forward? How will you overcome this?
  • How can you keep yourself motivated?
  • When do you need to review progress? Daily, weekly, monthly?
  • What support do you need and from whom?

Engage in a GROW conversation and soar

GROW certainly enables growth and develops people. Aim to have a GROW conversation with each of your colleagues over the coming weeks and watch your team productivity, morale and outcomes soar.

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Maria-Jane Satterthwaite

After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at 29, MJ knew her journey was going to be unique! 

No way was she going to waste any of her years working 9-5 under poor leadership! She seized the opportunity to become an independent worker; starting her own Registered Training Organisation, Scope Vision.

MJ’s curiosity into what drives people, and businesses, to achieve success has been the passion recognised in her award-winning business. The drive to continue to train and embrace lifelong learning has been her key to success, and she wants to see this happen for others.

20 years on, the passion and curiosity she’s used to shape the businesses she works with, and her longevity in these relationships have inspired her to think about the future of work; what this will mean for workers in general and indeed her own business. Find out more about MJ