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By: Aaron Wolowiec | May, 28 2021

Coaching Questions Guaranteed to Get Your Team Talking

ask sign with a light

Inspired by International Coaching Week, a week-long global celebration in May that educates the public about the value of working with a professional coach and acknowledges the results and progress made through the coaching process, the theme of the The Gardian Blog this month is coaching.

As a consultant, facilitator and coach, I’ve learned over the last 10 years that it’s impossible to single-handedly answer every challenge facing my team and our clients. In more cases than not, asking powerful questions helps individuals and groups work through the process of self-discovery to generate some of their own solutions. The coach’s role is to serve as a collaborative and inquisitive partner, drawing out information and creating greater self-awareness. 

But it’s not about asking questions at random. The intentionality of the questions and their order, along with the coach’s ability to listen and engage with the cues and clues embedded in the answers, allows the people, their perspectives and, ultimately, their ideas and recommendations to shine through. Often, these insights, coupled with my own knowledge and expertise, create new options for consideration and action.

Throughout our 10-year history, the Event Garde team has come to rely on well-researched models to support our internal work and collaboration among fellow team members, as well as our external work, relationships and deliverables with clients and other key stakeholders. Following are just some of the models and coaching questions we've found beneficial and subsequently adopted, and which align with our core values


Coaching Questions

Based upon the ATD Expert Coach Program I had the opportunity to take in 2019, I’ve assembled 67 powerful coaching questions you can ask in just about any scenario (e.g., one-on-on meeting, staff meeting, committee meeting, board meeting or strategy meeting) to jumpstart a journey of self-reflection and decision-making. Examples include:

  • What obstacles could you encounter and how will you overcome them?
  • What criteria could you use to evaluate each path?
  • How will this action help you reach your goal?
  • How did you come to that conclusion?
  • What are the consequences of ignoring feedback?

Conflict Resolution 

Conflict is a healthy part of personal and professional relationships, particularly as people work closely together on multiple projects over time. Conflict often arises as a result of breakdowns in communication, expectations (both spoken and unspoken), and trust. While many might prefer avoiding conflict altogether, it only manages to “pop-up” in unexpected ways at later times. Left unaddressed, it can have a negative and lasting impact on both relationships and outcomes.

In alignment with the four-part nonviolent communication process developed by Marshall B. Rosenberg, following are the most basic four questions to ask as you work to resolve conflict:

  1. What did I observe?
  2. How did I feel?
  3. What do I need?
  4. What do I want this person to do?


Feedback, which is often used as a basis for improvement, can seem like a frightening endeavor, particularly when it happens only once a year as part of an annual performance review. This is compounded by the fact that seemingly arbitrary written and unwritten rules often guide the process. For example, when “no one is allowed to get the highest rating,” but compensation and advancement opportunities are directly tied to review outcomes, it’s no wonder that feedback can set the team on edge.

But an annual review process also means that valuable feedback which could be used on an ongoing basis to make micro changes to knowledge, confidence and performance over time is withheld, inhibiting both short- and long-term growth and development. And in the worst-case scenarios, can actually be counterproductive by surprising and demoralizing team members. To that end, following are the questions we use almost daily to identify, share and act on feedback:

  1. TO THE TEAM MEMBER: What was one thing you were mindful of as you were (e.g., leading, training, consulting, facilitating, producing, managing)?
  2. TO THE GROUP: What is a gift you observed demonstrated by the team member that you appreciated? [Tell them directly vs. speaking about them in the third person.]
  3. TO THE TEAM MEMBER: What is one thing you will do differently the next time?
  4. TO THE TEAM MEMBER: Are you open to constructive feedback? [If yes, provide observations without judgment, blame or shame.]

For additional information about Event Garde’s conflict resolution and feedback models, visit our website. In the meantime, what questions have you found most beneficial in eliciting productive discussion from your team?

Image retrieved from Pixabay.

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By: Aaron Wolowiec | May, 28 2021

Coaching Questions Guaranteed to Get Your Team Talking

The Event Garde team has come to rely on well-researched models to support its internal work and collaboration among fellow team members, as well as its external work, relationships and deliverables with clients and other key stakeholders. In this post, Aaron Wolowiec shares three of these models and the associated coaching questions used to elicit productive discussion.

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