Coaching Questions

What are CLOSED questions?When should I use them in coaching?
Closed questions are those that do not invite discussion but require a literal response, usually of a few words.For example:Was company xyz the last organisation you worked for? (yes or no)When did you join this team? (a date or a year)Do you like working with this team? (yes or no or sometimes)Do you think customers are more important or staff? (customers or staff)They are useful for:Establishing factsClosing down a topicFocusing a more talkative coacheeConfirming agreementClarifying a situation – ‘Can I just check my understanding? Did you make that decision or did Marketing?’
What are OPEN questions?When should I use them in coaching?
Open questions are those that invite the coachee to talk fully about a topic.For example:How did you decide what to do?Why did you join this company?What do you like about working with this team?They are useful for:Opening up an area to exploreEncouraging the coachee to think something throughFinding out more informationGetting the coachee to set the agenda
What are PROBING questions?When should I use them in coaching?
Probing questions/statements can be used to open up the topic of conversation or probe generalisations such as “everyone”, “always”.For example:Tell more about that.Explain that to me.Can you give me a specific example?What is it about x?When did x happen?How did you feel about x?They are useful for:Expanding the topic out after a closed questionEncouraging a coachee to expand after a short responseEncouraging a coachee to think about a situation or experienceGetting to what is not being saidHelping to provide more detailFocusing on one element of the answer to an open question

Examples of coaching questions

  • What are your thoughts on this?
  • What is your concern on this, and how important do you think it is?
  • What is stopping us from making progress on this?
  • What do you see as your key contribution to the team?
  • What do you think we (or I, or you) can do about this?
  • What steps could we take with that now?
  • How do you see this going in the future?
  • What would it take for this process to be a success?
  • What obstacles will need to be overcome on the way?
  • What are all the different ways in which we could approach this issue?
  • What else could you do?
  • What would you do if you were me?
  • Which option would give the best result?
  • Which of these solutions appeals to you most?
  • Which would give you the most satisfaction?
  • How could the situation change?
  • How could you improve the situation?
  • What further support do you need?
  • How can you access this support?
  • Is there anything else we need to talk about?

Further information

Is this an area of concern for you? Contact Leading Governance for more help.

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