Approaching conversations at work from a coaching perspective creates space for everyone to voice their opinions and for smooth, sustainable business operations to continue.
This is the value of the “Coaching Approach,” a technique that has worked for me as an OBM.
Culture, productivity, and creativity may degenerate as teammates stifle their voices in favor of either: 1. Avoiding the dreaded and tabooed conflict or 2. Believing their opinions don’t matter in the decision-making process.
I remember working with a contractor who ultimately wasn’t comfortable with the changes being made within the organization. I had no idea the discomfort was there, but the emotion had grown so strong she finally admitted it. To dismiss her concerns would have been denying her emotions and that’s selfish – this wasn’t about me. She couldn’t find her footing, so I used a “coaching approach” to figure out what she needed to ease the transition.
Leadership experts agree that the simplest open-ended statement they can use to open the flood gates and allow team members to express and share willingly is, ‘Tell me.’ This allows the individual to feel fully understood.
Tell me what’s on your mind. Tell me what was most useful for you. These are great ways to get at the “coaching approach” technique. The idea is to guide your coachee to a place of comfort so that they are productive. If you lead teams and projects, try to solicit feedback from your workers with, ‘Tell me.’
On that same note, I too, as a business partner, need to feel comfortable expressing my ideas and opinions even when I'm the dissenting voice. Clients ultimately appreciate that I say what's on my mind because they know I have their best interest at heart.
There have been many times where I’ve voiced my ideas or stood my ground and it turned out to be the right move.
The work environment, whether it's virtual or not, makes the difference, and leaders have the power to alleviate tension or discord.
Check out Michael Bungay Stanier’s book “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever” for his seven key questions that help your teammate come up with their own solutions.