Killer Coaching Questions To Use During Staff Development Sessions
Guest Post by Sean McPheat

Making The Most Out Of Your Coaching Sessions

We all know the value of coaching in developing our staff.

The quality of your coaching sessions normally come down to the quality of the questions that you ask as a coach.

Does asking questions come easy to you?  Maybe they do or maybe they don’t! Either way, I always think it’s a good idea to improve on our coaching skills and asking effective questions is THE  most important skill that you can master as a coach.

Here is a series of coaching questions to help you have more productive coaching sessions with some of the most effective coaching questions that you can ask your direct reports.

Questions to clarify outcomes…

  • What would you rather have?
  • What would you like instead?
  • How can you turn that problem into a goal?
  • What can you do to influence this?
  • What will it look like, sound like, feel like… when you have…?
  • If you could have this right now, on a plate, would you take it?
  • What might be the undesirable or negative consequences of achieving this goal?
  • What’s your first step? Next step? Final step?
  • What resources do you need to support you in this?
  • What would you like to differently?
  • What would you like to see?
  • Where do you see yourself?
  • Where would you like to be?
  • How would you like to feel…?
  • What is your desired outcome?
  • What results do you want?
  • What timescale are we looking at?
  • What’s an appropriate deadline?
  • What are the milestones we can track along the way?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how compelled are you to do this?

Questions to aid moving from current reality to desired

  • Has this happened to you (or to someone you know) before? What did you (or
    they) do to overcome it?
  • Has there ever been a time when…. What was it like?
  • What tools do you know about that you haven’t used yet? Which will you try?
  • What tools do you need to help you?
  • How can we turn this around?
  • In what way would you like to change the way you operate?
  • What could you change/ do to make the situation more positive?
  • What current tools have you used? Which worked? Which didn’t? Why?
  • What do you think could be done to alter the situation?
  • How could you get tolls within the organisation to help you?
  • How do you see yourself getting your desired outcome?
  • How will you achieve…?
  • What have you tried so far?
  • What is stopping you achieve you goal?
  • What needs to happen for…?
  • What will enable you to achieve X, and how will you feel once you have?
  • What will feel, seem or look different if you achieve X?
  • What will your life be like when you are able to…?
  • What would make the biggest difference to the way you work?
  • What would you like to do as a result of being here?
  • How do you consider that we can achieve this objective?
  • How could you turn this around immediately, and enjoy the process?
  • Who already does this really well? (benchmark excellence)
  • How did (company xyz) crack this problem when they had it?
  • What research could you do that would give you more ideas?

Questions to challenge the way that the coachee perceives
the situation…

  • Does the problem really lie in the task, or the way you feel about the task?
  • What assumptions are you making that may be questionable?
  • What “rules” are you using that could be challenged?
  • What are the resources you haven’t used before, that you could try?
  • How would you deal with it if you were a man? (or woman, or child of 7, or a wise
    guru, or managing director, the pope etc.)
  • What would (insert name of coaches’ hero) do in this situation?
  • What would you do if your bonus depended on the satisfactory resolution of this
    problem? (variations: or your job, or your life!)
  • What would the best manager in your company do?
  • How will your team react to the change in your skills and how will that make you
  • What would you try now if you knew that you could not fail?
  • What would you do now if you were already the person you know you have the
    potential of becoming?
  • What’s the positive intention of this?

Questions to change their state…

  • What’s the most appropriate state for you to be in right now, as you solve this
  • Can you think of a time when you felt completely (insert appropriate state e.g.
    confident and unstoppable, creative, persuasive, calm, etc.)? See what you were
    seeing, hear what you were hearing, feel what you were feeling then… now allow
    that feeling to grow and intensify in your body as you focus on the current
  • Change their physiology – either overtly: How would you be sitting (or standing)
    right now if you knew you were totally capable and confident? (or whatever state)
    Or more covertly: “Lets go for a walk (or to grab a coffee) whilst we talk about
    this” How good do you really want to feel right now?
  • Can you notice all the ways in which you’ll grow and develop from this
  • Take yourself into the future now… and think about having achieved this objective
    in a way which is totally successful, and just allow and enjoy those feelings of
    success and achievement. No come back to the present moment, bringing those
    feeling with you. What new possibilities do you become aware of?
    I know you can do this. Do you?

Questions to capture learning…

  • How could we/you have done his more effectively?
  • Looking back now, what did you learn?
  • What can you learn from this?
  • What’s the biggest thing you would have done differently, with the benefit of
  • How have you learned the skills that you now have?
  • What helps you to remember skills you have now as second nature – how does it
  • How will you pass on these skills/ these insights to other members of your team?
  • How will you practice these skills in other areas of you life?
  • May I ask for you feedback?

Questions to offer support…

  • What can I do to help/ support you in this?
  • What am I already doing that is helping?
  • What other support/ resources do you need to get this done?
  • What’s the one question I could ask you now that would really make a difference?


Sean McPheat


Sean McPheat is the CEO of MTD Training – the management training and leadership development specialists. Sean has been featured on CNN, ITV, BBC and has over 400 different media credits to his name. Sean’s MTD Management Blog is followed by thousands of people each week who are interested in improving their management skills. Sean is also the Managing Director of MTD Sales Training and a new, innovative microlearning platform, Skillshub. In terms of questions, Sean has also published a list of 450 sales questions to ask in any sales situation and this has been downloaded over 50,000 on the internet.



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