Without These Powerful Questions, Your Coaching Is Just a Good Chat

Okay, I gotta be honest.

I was surprised and thrilled when Dr. Walt Hastings helped take my coaching to a next level with this simple tip.

I first met Walt when he was assigned to assess the recorded coaching sessions I submitted for credentialing. If you know me you know I am a go-big-or-go-home kinda gal and I had it in my head I should go ahead and apply for CCNI Master’s level credentialing on my first go. Walt was so kind when he let me down easy that I needed a little more work before that level. (I am proud to say I have a CPCC credential now (Certified Professional Christian Coach) and am working toward CMCC this year.)

Walt’s assessment taught me so much that I hired him to do Mentor Coaching for our Bridges Next Level coach training.

In that course, he shared his coaching prep form which shared the simple key I want to share with you today.

Without an articulated outcome your coaching conversation is just a good chat!

A good chat allows the other person to direct the conversation. It offers active listening. It is caring and kind and better than just taking turns talking.

BUT good coaching is so much more!

Walt taught us to have our clients* prep for the session by answering a few poignant questions in advance.

Here’s our Bridges Coaching amended version:

What would you like to focus on?
What should we accomplish in this coaching session?
How will we measure success?
What makes this focus important at this time?
What key points need to be included?

Let’s unpack those a little.

What would you like to focus on?

This is not a new one for us, but must be included in every coaching conversation.

What should we accomplish in this coaching session?


In all honesty, I’ve spent way too much time DURING coaching sessions providing space for what should have been determined in advance…

Let me explain. A client might say they want to focus on their time management, but do they need a way to keep track of their commitments, a plan for prioritizing next projects, to learn how to define true emergencies, or even when to say no to good ideas. All of these might be part of the conversation but knowing clearly what needs to be determined before we start chatting makes a world of difference.

How will we measure success?

This one is akin to the one just prior but pushes out the request for clarity one step farther. It could sound like this.

If this session were a success I would have:
- a system for keeping track of my schedule that works for me.
- a value system for new projects so I can determine what should come next.
- identified the questions I need to have answered before I leave what I am doing to tend to an interruption.
- a clear plan for knowing when to say yes and how to say no.

What makes this focus important at this time?

This one is also not new to Bridges, but oh so valuable. We see people get all fired up about the Why behind the What here and that helps fuel forward movement when the going gets tough.

What key points need to be included?

I love this one when I am being coached as it gives the coach an idea of how much content there is to cover so we don’t get stuck on one thing when there are several to be included. The coach helps manage the direction of the conversation as well as the time allotted.

Hope this helps you as you help others move forward. And while these tips are likely used best in an actual coaching session, they can also be insightful in guiding coaching type conversations as well!

Here’s to making disciples, not dependents!

*While many of our trainees use coaching in ministry and with family or friends, we use the word “client” to describe anyone who is being coached.


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