Boost your team’s confidence with coaching

A question I sometimes hear from participants in Zoomly’s workshops is ‘How can I convince someone to step up?’ When we explore this it’s often the case that the person in question seems to lack confidence – even though their manager sees them as very capable. For example, they:

  • Seek approval for every step of their work
  • Seem unsure about taking on a new task or responsibility
  • Stick to the basics and don’t volunteer for more demanding (and valuable) tasks
  • Allow others to grab the high-profile projects

When someone you manage needs a confidence boost, that’s a great opportunity for you to coach them

While it’s probably quicker to tell them to ‘step up’, or that they’re ‘up to it’, beware the allure of that short-term ‘tell’ fix. If you want to boost someone’s confidence, you need to switch to ‘ask’ mode. Asking coaching questions will get people thinking for themselves and developing their capability more than telling them ever will.

Try some of these coaching questions (no, not all of them in a volley of interrogation – pick and choose. My tip is to imagine the conversation and your coachee’s likely responses):

  • What’s stopping you from doing [the task]?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how confident are you about [the task]?
  • How do you benefit from not doing this – what do you gain?
  • What could this be costing you?
  • How do you want to feel about [the task]?
  • When have you done something similar that worked well?
  • How did you go about it?
  • Which of your strengths will work well here?
  • What do you already know about [the task]?
  • Given you know XYZ [their response to the previous question], what else do you need?
  • Who’s great at [the task] and what can you learn from them?
  • How will you know you’re getting the hang of it?
  • How will I know you’re getting the hang of it?
  • What else will happen when you get the hang of it?
  • What difference will that make?
  • How important is that for you?
  • How can I support you?
  • What’s a small step that you can take to get started?
  • When will you begin?
  • Why not now?

Be sure to make good on any promises to demonstrate, train and support your team member (and yes, I can help with that). Encourage their efforts and give them feedback about their progress.

The benefits of switching from a ‘tell’ default to ‘ask’ more of the time is something participants on Zoomly’s ‘How to coach your people’ workshop report long after the training. Thinking ‘I don’t have time’?  Take a look at this post: ‘Dear Manager, coaching isn’t your night job’


Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’


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