A Manager's Handbook For Coaching Conversations

If you have a manager who isn't the best communicator, you can suggest he/she read Jane Murphy's and Khatun Huber's book, What Could Happen If You Do Nothing?

Actually, it's more of a handbook than a book, and it is best read by finding the section most applicable at the moment versus reading it start to finish.

It's filled with mini-dialogues that demonstrate the impact of engaged listening, deliberative questioning, and animating suggestions to facilitate change and action.

For me, the most useful section is the list of a dozen or so questions (for each conversation category below) to ask an employee to:
  • Start a conversation with an employee
  • Conduct a meaningful follow-up conversation
  • Clarify inconsistencies in what you are hearing from an employee
  • Build and further a conversation on what's being said to move the conversation ahead
  • Wind down a conversation
  • Solicit feedback
Equally enlightening are these questions from which a manager can select to ensure all parties benefit from a performance review:
  • What have you learned from the reviews you've had?
  • What do you find challenging about reviews?
  • Is there anyone whose input you'd like to include whom you'd like me to talk to?
  • So how would you grade yourself on that?  What's your thinking here?  How could you make this a ten?
  • Do you want to add any points you want to address in your review?
  • How can we talk about this in a way that works toward a solution?
  • What has been really working?  Where are there gaps?  What can you do to get past this roadblock?
  • Is there anything more I could do to make this review process more useful to you?
I receive about a book a week from authors to review, and I don't recommend them all. This is one, however, that should be helpful to managers who need to hone their communications skills.


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