On coaching: be mindful of which mode you’re in


Coaching comes in different forms, but it’s all about finding and finessing the right posture while driving for performance and development.

Additional to my day job, I work part-time as a CrossFit coach. Both roles essentially focus on the same thing; getting the best out of people. As a CrossFit coach, I use cues to help athletes find positions. As a HRBP, I ask curious questions.

In the squat, I might cue for knees out to ensure the athlete is creating room for the hips to pass through the range of motion. Likewise, if I’m asked to provide advice on a business interaction, I’m looking for ways to create room for the flow of information and ideas.

When cueing for better movement, I need to offer short, concise pieces of information. It needs to be easily digestible and understood. Often while the athlete is already moving. It needs to be enough to drive a change in the pattern but not too much so as to confuse them. Most of all, it needs to be deliberate and actionable.

When cueing for business performance, rather than offering bitesize chunks of info, I’m asking probing questions. However, the pattern is often similar. The questions must be concise. They must illicit a change in the pattern, but they can’t be so big as to confuse the issue. While it’s easy to shortcut the interaction by offering advice and moving onto the next thing, the result is often only a short term fix.

The key difference in these interactions is that the athlete in the first example usually has no idea what they’ve done wrong, whereas the employee being coached will have an inkling of how to resolve the issue and only needs a gentle nudge in the right direction, guided by careful questioning.

So, what’s my point here? Advice giving mode has its place, but it’s far too easy to become over reliant on giving advice and moving on. Next time you’re tempted to revert to the easy road, ask yourself if a curious question might get a better outcome. I bet it does.

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