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In earlier posts, I shared that the use of ‘why’ coaching questions causes greater resistance and pressure on you to find the solution.

When in a coaching situation, someone comes to you with a problem. If using why places pressure on me to solve their problem, what is another question I can ask?

Use a series of ‘WhatHow, When, Where’ questions.

When – Leadership Coaching questions
  • A staff member comes to you to share that they are no longer fulfilled with their current work, and would like change. Rather than asking a series of ‘why questions,’ you ask the following ‘when questions.’

Question and Purpose of the question

  • Whenduring your workday, do you feel fulfilled – even a little bit? Work with the person to identify what they are doing that currently works.
  • When do you find yourself looking for engaging work? Discover times that the individual can accept and change how work gets done.
  • When you speak with your coworkers about your job, what would they notice is different when show fulfillment? Reframe to have the person look outside themselves to discover progress clues.
  • When during your day, can you seek work that challenges you and makes you feel fulfilled? Look for times and opportunities for the person to take accountability plus authority over their work.
  • When you find meaningful work, what changes? Anchor context about useful change. 
  • When can we meet again and discuss what action you believe fulfills you and how you made progress? Develop an agreement for development and time to meet again.

Asking why will get the problem solved faster, in the short term. However, the problem and similar problems will come back to you because you answered them. Asking ‘when’ will create progress with the team member and you, leading to learning.