In their book, Coaching in Organizations: Best Coaching Practices from The Ken Blanchard Companies, Madeleine Homan and Linda Miller define coaching as follows:
“Coaching is a deliberate process using focused conversations to create an environment for individual growth, purposeful action, and sustained improvement.”
To help initiate and guide these conversations, coaches use a series of targeted, thought-provoking questions. These questions are intended to assist the coaching client down a path of self-discovery and self-improvement. Therefore, one can conclude that great coaches ask great questions.
Even if you are already working with a coach, there will inevitably be moments in time (be it work or personal) where you will want or need to coach yourself. You may face an issue that requires immediate action and can’t wait for your next appointment with your coach. Or, perhaps you’re dealing with some smaller issues that you feel aren’t a good use of your time with your coach. Of course, those smaller issues that cause feelings of overwhelment have a way of quickly becoming larger issues if you let them fester over time.
If you are not a trained coach, just the thought of coaching yourself might cause you feelings of overwhelment. So, if you’re not a great coach who is trained to ask great questions, you need a simple framework to get you started. The one that I use was introduced to me while in journalism classes back in my grade school days.
The primary responsibility of a journalist is to capture and report the complete story. To make sure they achieve this, they rely on a basic concept most commonly referred to as The Five Ws (and one H). By adopting and implementing this simple concept you can set the context to begin coaching yourself through practically any situation.
- Who? - Who are the stakeholders? Who’s involvement is required? Who can I go to for help?
- What? – What problem am I attempting to solve? What else do I need to consider? What help do I need?
- Where? – Where is the issue unfolding? Where do I, and/or other stakeholders, need to be? Where can I go for help?
- When? – When does action need to take place? When do stakeholders need to be notified? When should I ask for help?
- Why? – Why is this an issue? Why are certain individuals involved? Why do I need help?
- How? – How did this issue arise? How will the issue be resolved? How will I reach out for help?
It is important to note that these are questions that cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no” response. This leads to deeper reflection and furthering the conversation. With this framework in place, you should be well positioned to coach yourself through your issue and/or better prepared to discuss the issue in further detail with your coach.
What other tips or tricks do you use to coach yourself when the need arises?