Episode 102: Coaching That Really Works
With employee disengagement at alarming levels despite significant investments in training leaders in coaching skills, there's a pressing need to reevaluate and get practical about making coaching truly effective for people in managerial roles. This episode zeroes in on how to address this gap, introducing insights and tools for leaders to genuinely engage and empower their teams.
Dominic Ashley-Timms, CEO of Notion, has firsthand experience across 37 countries, providing a fresh and nuanced perspective on leadership, culture, and organizational transformation. Having co-authored "The Answer Is a Question", Dominic brings an innovative approach to everyday coaching, rooted in the STAR® model he co-created.
- The vital role of questions and their effectiveness.
- Crafting questions that stimulate constructive thought processes.
- Advanced questioning techniques for seasoned managers.
- External cues (also called triggers) and their role in influencing behavioral shifts.
- Molding triggers to fit seamlessly into a manager’s coaching approach.
- Pinpointing moments ripe for coaching interventions.
- Addressing the knowledge gap in framing effective questions.
- The strategy behind intentional questioning.
- Exploring question facets: their classification, delivery, and timing.
- Varied question styles for clarity, comparison, and an outward focus.
- Emphasizing the need for pause, reflection, and then ask the right question.
Dominic's view on the greatest unmet wellbeing need at work today
"The issue is not so much about how we're being taught well-being; it's more about adapting our behavior and changing our mental models. We need to redefine what our roles are as managers. This is not just an individual conversation but also an organizational one. Within my company, we're facilitating discussions with leadership teams of major organizations to explore what they expect from their managerial layers. Unfortunately, many organizations aren't having this crucial dialogue.
The goal should be to create an engaged, contributing workforce where people can operate at their highest level and feel valued for it. To achieve this, managers need to be skilled in fostering such an environment. When it comes to well-being, we all need to feel seen, acknowledged, and respected. Most management training programs focus on transactional skills; they're episodic and don't foster a continuous mindset shift.
We need to move away from the traditional role of the manager as the "problem solver" or the one who "keeps the lights on." Instead, managers should enable their team members to give their best, inviting and valuing their contributions. This shift in behavior can lead to more trusting and engaging relationships with team members. When we started this work 15 years ago, we were often measured by improvements in engagement scores. It's not complicated—if you want to improve engagement, then engage more.
However, many managers are so preoccupied with their task lists that they neglect the people-engagement aspect of their roles.
We argue that reversing this trend has significant benefits, not just for teams, but also for managers. Adopting an operational coaching approach to management has been reported to reduce stress and create a more balanced work week.
Recent research has even shown that the relationship with one's line manager has a greater impact on mental well-being than relationships with a spouse, pastor, or doctor. Considering the number of hours spent at work, it's easy to understand why a relationship with a manager can have such a significant impact on mental well-being.
So, we are at an inflection point. If you are a line manager responsible for people, it's time to consider how you will engage differently in the next phase of your career."
What “working with humans” means to Dominic
“The tenets of management haven't really changed over the last century. When we examine organizations, we often refer to the workforce as a "resource." In consulting, it's termed "human capital management," and we have Human Resources departments. We haven't really moved beyond viewing humans merely as resources.
We recently gave a significant talk in London about re-humanizing management. The focus is on helping managers understand that their role extends beyond merely ensuring that work proceeds. They are also there to engage the workforce and take them along on the journey. Working with humans is exactly that — if people aren't actively contributing to the work, there's no progress.
If we were to ask ourselves what percentage of the available talent in our workforce we are truly tapping into, the answer might be unsettling.”