What’s the difference between a Kickstart Question and a Foundation Question, and how might knowing the difference actually make you a better listener and better manager?

Michael Bungay Stanier has the answer. As Senior Partner and Founder of Box of Crayons, Stanier is dedicated to helping companies do less “good” work and more “great” work.

His new book The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More and Change the Way You Lead Forever focuses on seven essential coaching questions and the tools to make them an everyday way to work less hard, but have more impact.

So, what are these seven essential questions?

Questions 1, 2, and 3 get managers off on the right foot for any coaching conversation from formal performance reviews to casual lunchtime chats.

  1. “What’s on your mind?” This is the Kickstart Question, intended to quickly get to what matters most.
  2. “And what else?” Dubbed the AWE Question, this ensures that nothing remains unsaid. Stanier calls it “the best coaching question in the world,” because it continues the conversation without indulging a manager’s want to take over and be an expert.
  3. “What is the real challenge here for you?” This Focus Question helps narrow down what really matters to an employee and emphasizes the real problem, not just the first problem.

Check back Wednesday for Questions 4 through 7, which provide simple ways to apply the neuroscience of engagement (sounds fancy, doesn’t it?) to the second part of a coaching conversation.

Want to learn more about how to become a better manager? Register for Stanier’s upcoming webinar The Three Secrets to Building Your Coaching Habit to see it on-demand.