Quick Summary

A team member comes to you with a problem and you give them a solution.  And you wonder why your day consists of constant interruptions from your team looking for help.  The Coaching Habit. Say Less, Ask More & Change The Way You Will Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier will help you break that cycle with a super simple approach to coaching your team to find their own solutions.  Next step is to make the coaching approach a habit and that’s what this book covers that many overlook.  Frankly it’s a must read to help you become the manager you want to be.

Why is this on the NewHire365 book list

Giving solutions rather than helping your team find them is taking too much of your time. It’s also highly likely that your team find it demotivating.  Coaching your team to develop their skills and trust their judgement will make them feel engaged in what they do.  It will give them purpose, make them feel pride and give you a much more effective member of your team.   It’s got to be win win for you and your team, right?

Information about the authors

As well as being author of a number of highly rated books and a Coach of the Year, Michael Bungay Stanier is the founder of Box of Crayons.  It’s a company that helps organisations and teams around the world ‘do less good work and more great work’.  I love the simplicity in this purpose and this also flows through to the Coaching Habit book.   It not only tells you what GREAT coaching is all about but it shows YOU how to DO it.

Favourite Quote


First Lesson : 7 questions to structure your coaching conversation

You know coaching is important.  You need to do it for both yourself for you and your team.   But where do you start?  How about if you had 7 simple questions to turn your conversations into coaching opportunities instead of your ‘Solve it. Move on.’ approach.  Great news!  Michael Bungay Stanier’s only gone and given you just that in this book.

It starts with the Kickstart question ‘What’s on your mind?’ and then delves deeper with ‘And what else’.  (This allows your team member to get it all out on the table).  If they start to get off track or are using this session just to have a moan, step in with the Focus question – ‘What’s the real challenge for you here?’   Listen how the conversation gets back on track.

From here, Stanier recommends four further questions to drill down further to find out what your employee needs and wants.
‘What do you want?’
‘How can I help?’

These are followed by a strategic question such as ‘If you say Yes to this, what will you have to say No to’

And to help your employee reflect on the session and continue to learn, ask ‘What was most useful for you?’ at the end of the conversation.

In the book, Stanier delves into the importance of each question.  He quotes Eisenhower who said “Plans are useless but planning is indispensable”.  This series of questions is not about planning out every conversation – that’s clearly not possible.  But it does give you the confidence and structure to stop you just blurting out the solution.

Second Lesson : Think about how you ask the question.

Picture the scene.  Something has just gone wrong and you are talking to your employee about what might have happened.  Compare these two questions

  1. ‘Why did you do that?’
  2. ‘What was your thought process that led you to take that course of action?’

Asking ‘what’ instead of ‘why’ questions will stop your employee automatically becoming defensive.

And rhetorical questions (‘Have you thought about doing….’) aren’t genuine questions, they’re advice with a question mark at the end!

Third Lesson – How to Make Coaching a Habit

You have all the right intentions.  You want to be an amazing coach but you’re always busy and someone asks you a question and the solution pops out without you even thinking about it.

Stanier does a great job of helping you develop coaching as a natural response when needed.  It’s all about making it a habit.

My Personal Takeaways

I love the fact that Stanier gives us a formula for coaching that is so simple it can scribbled down on a post-it to keep our coaching conversations on track.  But it also made me think about how I should prepare for my conversations when I’m on the receiving end of coaching.  What is it that I really want help with?  Is that really the issue?  What is the key challenge for me?  How can my coach help me?  What is the impact of the decision I make?  And what do I want to walk away from the coaching session with?

Who would I recommend this book to

I think this is perfect for the overworked manager who has ever said ‘Coaching takes too long.  I don’t have time for coaching’  (Don’t worry. you’re not alone if that’s you)  It’s a fun, easy read that will pay back your investment in time to read ten fold.

Where to find this book

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