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Agile coaching - Make it a habit

Coaching is all about asking questions. Yep, questions. Simple. Short. Powerful. The right question at the right time will help the person in front of you:

  • derive better insights from ongoing endeavors

  • learn and reflect

  • open up their mind to more and better solutions to problems

When done well, the art of asking questions will take your listening and guiding skills to the next level.

I've recently been gathering information around good coaching techniques and driving people to better outcomes. I felt like I found a gold mine when I read 'The coaching habit - Michael Bungay'. It is concise, fun to read and full of great, yet simple, advice.

The following gathers the main learnings I've been able to put into practice. What do you find most useful you can take to your day to day coaching process?


👨‍🏫Question masterclass

  1. Ask one question at a time

  2. Cut the intro and ask the question. If you know what question to ask, get to the point and ask it.

  3. Tame the advice monster. Refrain from answering. Your advice is not as good as you think it is

  4. Stay curious, genuinely curious

  5. DON’T ask rhetorical questions

  6. Start your questions with What. Avoid ‘why, how, …’

  7. TERA - Tribe, Expectation, Rank, Autonomy. Keep the conversation safe for the person in front of you

  8. Get comfortable with silence 🤫

  9. ‘What do you think I should do about …?’ - Cheddar on the mousetrap. ‘Ah… that’s a great question. I’ve got some ideas, which I’ll share with you. But before I do, what are your first thoughts?

  10. Actually listen to the answer

  11. Acknowledge the answers you get. This isn’t about judging people; it’s about encouraging them!

  12. Use every channel you have at your disposal to ask questions! Written or F2F, the triggers the questions have in the person receiving them are pulled equally.


🤩THE questions

  1. The kickstart question: What’s on your mind?

  2. The AWE question: And what else? (option generator)

  3. The focus question: What’s the real challenge here for you?

    1. The 1-2-3 combo 😉 A true foundation for your coaching conversations

  4. The foundation question: What do you want? Adult-adult conversation. Opens the door for you to share too

  5. The lazy question: How can I help? It is essential to realize is that regardless of the answer you receive, you have a range of responses available to you

  6. The strategic question: If you are saying Yes to this, what are you saying No to? The heart of every strategy is the eternal balance of things. Boundaries.

  7. The learning question: What was most useful for you? Your job is to create space for those learning moments.


Did you find out something throughout your coaching career that is not present here? Share it!



Tim Keyes Atlassian Team Jan 10, 2020

G'Day Fernando,

Thank you for the post!

I have always found it important to relate to your audience and provide real world examples.  I think providing real world examples on the benefits of suggested guidance can help the effectiveness of messaging.  

When I did my Scaled Agilist certification I really enjoyed hearing the instructor's experience implementing techniques at their company. 



Like Fernando Bordallo likes this

Hey there Tim,

Thanks for your advice. Duly noted 🤓Is there any point in particular you would be interested in seeing expanded with examples?

Like Tim Keyes likes this
Tim Keyes Atlassian Team Jan 12, 2020

Hi Fernando,

I do not see a need to expand the article but on the trend of questions a coach could provide an example of an event from their past and question the team how they would respond to spark meaningful discussion across the team.


Like Fernando Bordallo likes this

...and the most important question; "why are we doing this?", which you never ask directly. You ask, "what is the impact of not doing this? Will anyone die? Will we lose any money? Will we upset any clients?" No, no, no? then should we spend any more time & effort on this? :-)

Like Fernando Bordallo likes this

I agree that having a purpose is key to give direction to our efforts and fuel motivation 🚀

I agree. And now a days its easy to take coaching and training online because many companies offer the online coaching in every field. 


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