Seven Questions that Help You Coach Up (and ensure you get the feedback you need too!)


Regular, direct communication between a direct report and their leader is what grows and develops employees, yet so often I find the time people have together is not used effectively. The most common issue: the conversations are largely transactional.

What gets covered in these meetings are the needs of the day: the tasks that need to be accomplished. Left unaddressed are the conversations about employee performance. What do they both need in terms of communication from each other to be successful? What behaviors are helping and what behaviors are hurting both the relationship and their individual performance?  These issues all too often remain unaddressed.

If you are a leader, when was the last time you had a conversation with your direct reports about their professional growth? One thing to remember: you might think you have had these conversations, but if it was not explicit or intentional your direct report may have missed the coaching. Be intentional and take the time to have regular professional development conversations with your people.

Often someone is able to change and do something differently, but they don’t know that a different behavior would be helpful. Perhaps they don’t know how to do the behavior at all, and they need coaching from their leader in order to learn a new way of operating.

This kind of regular coaching and feedback helps people grow and perform better and better in their role. It impacts the bottom line, grows your culture, and creates more successful team members.

If your leader does not offer this kind of feedback, you do not have to wait. Here are seven Coaching Up questions you can use to get the conversation started. Add this habit into your 1:1s or ask for a few minutes at the end of your weekly or monthly meeting, and let me know what happens!  

Seven Coaching Up Questions

Find out how you are doing:

·        What did I do well?

·        What could I do differently in the future?

·        What did I miss?

·        What do you want me to accomplish next week/month?

Share what will help you get better:

·        What do you appreciate that your leader is doing?

·        What could they do differently that would help you perform better in your role?

·        Is there something new you need from them so you can be successful?

Imagine how well you and your team can perform if you were asking and answering these questions regularly. Now ask yourself: what can I do differently next week so that I am getting and giving performance feedback to my team? What is the next opportunity I have to ask one (or all) of these questions?  Decide who you want to talk with, what you want to ask, and when you will ask those questions. Enjoy the conversation! Performance conversations are a gift that you both give and receive.

The 5 Stay Questions


I recently attended a professional meeting where colleague of mine presented some excellent and timely information.  As our economy heats up and job opportunities become more plentiful, it is incumbent on employers to fully understand why people stay in their jobs. Improving employee engagement and retention is more important then ever to keep high performing people on your team.

It got me thinking about a recent radio show that Voltage CEO Jeff Smith and I did on the topic of retention.  We used the term re-recruiting to describe how to keep valuable people from leaving the organization.

Jeff made the point that when a star performer comes to you, the leader, and says, “I’m thinking
about taking an offer from another organization. What do you think my chances are for advancement here?” By that time, it’s too late.  The star performer has already entertained and turned over in their own minds the proposition of working elsewhere, (you are just the last to know).

Below are what Richard Finnegan, the author of The Power of Stay Interviews, calls the five stay interview questions. These may be very appropriate to incorporate into periodic re-recruiting meetings
in 1:1 mode behind the manager’s closed door.

1. When you travel to work each day, what things do you look forward to?

The opening clause, “When you travel to work each day”, encourages the employee to imagine their daily
commute to capture their everyday images in the here and now. Then asking them what they look forward
to drives them to their positive images.

2. What are you learning here?

“Learning” in the present tense sends the compelling message that we want you to grow, to prosper
for both yourself and our organization. When employees answer and hear their own lists, they
know they are developing and not standing still.

We encourage managers to engage employees in career discussions built around the word “skills”. For example:

“What skills would you like to build?”
“What skills do you think are required for that position?”
“What skills do you possess that are not being fully utilized on your present role?”

3. Why do you stay here?

The goal here is for the employee to drill down, identify, and then verbalize why they stay. The initial
response might be something mundane like,” I have to pay the bills” or “Because its familiar and steady”.
The manager may respond by saying something like “Of course, me too, but I really want to learn why you
stay. Please take a few moments and let me know what you really think”.

The point is that few employees really take the time to consider why they stay and voice them once they have been challenged to think about them. This is a very “local” discussion, one that hits close to home. It needs to
be done thoughtfully as the employee just might be thinking, “Yep you are right. I am so out of here.”.

4. When was the last time you thought about leaving our team? What prompted it?

This question gets to the core of retention issues. Everyone at some point in their tenure thinks about
leaving at one time or another. Some of the drill down questions are:

“How important is that issue to you today?”
“Can I count on you to come 1:1 if you ever feel that way again?”

“What’s the single most important thing I can do to make it better?”
“How often has that happened?”

5. What can I do to make your experience at work better for you?

This question is often seen a lip service or as a cliché. It is about building the trust bridge behind the manager’s closed door. It requires the manager to be comfortable in their own skin and not react defensively. The responses from this dialog often provide insight into regarding how the manager can adapt their leadership style with each employee.

 “Do I recognize you appropriately when you do something well?
 “How do you like to be recognized? Privately? In public?”

“Are my work instructions clear?”
“Are there times you don’t always understand what is expected?”

“Do I seem genuinely interested in your career here?”

“Am I with you enough? Not enough? Too much?”

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Lee Hubert is a Speaker, Facilitator, Trainer and founder of iTrainManagerforSuccess affiliate of Voltage Leadership, with over 20 years of experience in human resources development in healthcare, technology, financial and energy sectors. 


Have you been dreaming lately? Maybe about a new job, a promotion, losing weight, a new relationship or completing a marathon?  How is it going? If you are like most, the dream sounds great but finding the path and motivation can be a real challenge. Katherine Paterson said it well when she said “a dream without a plan is just a wish.” Scientific studies have shown that we can actually end up feeling worse about ourselves and our performance can decrease when we do not achieve our dreams. When we only dream about our positive outcomes and do not plan, the outcomes include:

1.    Sapped energy to reach our positive future
2.    Low physical and mental health
3.    Diminished well being

Yuck…what can do?

I recently read a great book I highly recommend from a colleague of mine, Alan Schlechter. The book is called UThrive and it is by Daniel Lerner and Alan. The book is based on learnings from a class they teach called The Science of Happiness which happens to be the most popular elective class at NYU. One of the tools Alan and Dan discuss is mental contrasting thinking. The tool they recommend to achieve this thinking is called WOOP.  Below is an overview of the framework.

Wish- What is the challenging goal you are aiming to achieve, whether today, next week, in a     month, or in a year?

Outcome- How would you feel if this goal were accomplished?

Obstacle- What is standing in your way? What assumptions or habits are holding you back?

Plan- What is one thing you can do to overcome your obstacle? Not just generally, specifically, in this very moment? If x (obstacle) happens, then I will do y (healthy alternative).  More information on pages 115-116 of UThrive!!! 

Here is what happens when you use WOOP. By clarifying each of the steps in WOOP, you:

Strengthen Mental Association….which leads to
Increased Energy…which leads to
Better Performance

By succeeding on your wish, this will also create a belief that you are capable of achieving future dreams. This reinforcing cycle gives you confidence to overcome setbacks and future barriers. This self-confidence also allows you to dream bigger dreams and not hold back. This confidence will help you reach your full potential and watch out for the places you will go!

So ask yourself, what is holding you back from fulfilling your wish? Find a place to write, follow the WOOP model and see where you can go!  Good luck and let me know what you achieve!



It is all well and good to know what to delegate, but who among us has not had an assignment we delegated go horribly wrong?  Inaccurate.  Incomplete.  Late Arriving.  Or, worst of all, Undone.

I confess to being guilty of all four failings at one time or another.  For a variety of completely justifiable reasons (if one were to take my point of view for a moment) and sometimes for unjustifiable ones, I have delivered poorly on tasks delegated to me.

If I were to juxtapose the things I felt I made a promise to do vs. the things that were delegated to me, any guess which column would have more “completed” items in it?

Yep, the “I promised” column.  Deliberate delegation begins with making sure the person you are delegating to actually promises to take on and complete the task, and to return and communicate if that is not possible.

If you want to find yourself with a higher success rate in delegating tasks and projects, it is important to understand the parties and processes involved.

Who’s Who?

There are two parties involved in any Deliberate Delegation, you and the person you are asking to do the work.  Once you choose to delegate something, you turn yourself into a Customer. The person who will do the work will be the Performer, instead of you. 

A 4 Step Process

There are 4 phases to the Deliberate Delegation process:

1.       Preparation:  expectations are outlined and a request is made.

2.       Negotiation:  an agreement is reached and the project begins.

3.       Fulfillment:  the work is being done and delivered.

4.       Satisfaction:  we discover and recognize how well the work was done.

Each Phase raises questions.

Preparation Phase

The Customer asks:  Who is best for the Job?

The Performer asks:  Do I have the time and the ability?

Troubles arise when the Customer gives an assignment without waiting to see if the Performer accepts the assignment, and failing to learn on what terms that assignment can be accepted (and therefore successfully completed for both parties).

Negotiation Phase

The Customer asks:  Will what I need be accomplished on time?  Are the parameters satisfactory?

The Performer asks:  Have I asked for enough resources?  Do I continue to have the capacity?

Troubles arise when the Performer says “Yes” to the assignment before considering and communicating honestly about the answer to the “Do I have the time?” and the “Do I have the ability?” questions.

Fulfillment Phase

The Customer asks:  What is the progress?  Am I satisfied with the progress?

The Performer asks:  Can I deliver what was requested by the deadline?

Troubles arise when neither party check in with the other to see what progress is being made.

Satisfaction Phase

The Customer asks:  Am I satisfied with the work?  Was it delivered on time?

The Performer asks:  Did I accomplish what I agreed to?  Did I accomplish what was expected?

If we miss this phase, we miss twice. We miss:

1. Learning.  Learning what could go better next time, and

2. Engagement.  Forgetting to thank people for their work leaves them feeling undervalued and unappreciated.  You won’t get exceptional performance twice if you don’t acknowledge the work, and you won’t get better performance next time if you don’t stop and share what went right and what could have gone better.

The next time you have a task or project to delegate, take a moment and think through the Deliberate Delegation process.

  • What do you need done?
  • Who is best for the job?

Once you assign the task, negotiate the scope and terms of the work, and then follow up.

Be sure to check in and see how things are going.  Be curious.  Offer support.  And when the work is complete, let the person know how they did; what went right, and what could go differently next time.

Happy delegating!


A fresh new year is well underway as we continue driving for results in “Q2”.  Are things unfolding as you had planned during strategy sessions at the tail end 2016? If so, great and congratulations. If not, what actions should be taken and how should they be communicated?

In other words, how hard should leadership push for results and how should they go about it? This is a question that all leaders face at different times. The answer to it often determines how culturally engaged the workforce is.

·       Are leaders “pushing” on the right things?

·       Are these things fully understood before actions are taken?

·       Are the right actions being taken at the right time vs prematurely?

·       What are the leadership skills necessary to rally the troops during these trying times?

If you have been there, or are there now, you will want to explore the use of an excellent management tool we’ve developed called iPUSH to hit the finish line strong and move the needle.

The iPUSH Model:  Please answer these three preliminary questions

1.       What are you potentially struggling with that needs attention now?
2.      What are the right developmental goals to work on over the next 3-6 months?
3.      What are the best ways to interface with you as your Accountability Partner to move the needle?

Then cycle the responses to these questions thru iPUSH

              i PUSH stands for:

              i = Intention, succeeding with intentionality
              P = Problem(s) to resolve
              U = Understanding problems fully before acting
              S = Setting the right actions in motion at the right time
              H = Hitting the Finish Line strong

The goal here is to become an Accountability Partner, one who shares in the real work of ensuring the deliverable is met. In other words, the push-or is on the same Team as the Push-ee and they win together.

So, go ahead and PUSH, but make sure intentions are combined with integrity and that the Problems to resolve are fully Understood before Setting the right actions in motion at the right time, Hitting the finish line strong!

iPUSH, How about you…?


I was working with a client recently who said she felt her team was like a 10pm drama on television. She had the diva who tried to take credit for everything. The sniper who constantly lobbed in bombs that tore apart all the good ideas on the team. Mr. Passive Aggressive sat in the corner barely containing his hostility but a wry smile on his face the whole time. She also had the “holier than thou” character who stayed above the conflict and talked about how wonderful her group was doing and if everyone would just get alone, their results would improve. I asked her what role she played and she just laughed and said “I guess I view myself as Wonder Woman trying to rescue this team and organization.” As you can imagine, my client is pretty exhausted from being a rescuer/superhero and wanted help to regain the power of her team.

Does this sound like a team you have been on recently? There are other characters that we could add like Pass the Buck guy; The Blamer; It’s Not Me; Squirrel-Distracted by Shiny Bright Objects (this can be me if I am not engaged); Persecutor, etc. Obviously, we are not headed for the road to success if this is our team.

Let’s go back to Wonder Woman…how can we help her lead her team.  First, she will need to make sure each person knows their purpose, vision and mission and values of the organization. I believe most people come to work wanting to do a good job. Sure, there are a few truly bad characters but most people want to do a good job. Thus, have a conversation to make sure the team reconnects with the collective purpose.

Next, I would encourage the team to draft a team charter. This should include the vision, mission, ground rules and values of the team that supports the organization’s needs. I encourage team leaders to outline their goals, strengths, barriers, weaknesses, desired outcomes and hopes. This should lead to a discussion of roles and expectations for each team member. I would also spend time outlining how decisions will be made on the team and who has the ability to make what decisions. Are there group decisions? If so, who is responsible for these and does everyone understand the process for decision making.

Okay, we are making good progress.  Now, how are we going to handle conflict? This should be discussed as a team ensuring there are ground rules on how to handle any conflict. The team then needs to hold each other accountable to their commitments. One rule I would encourage is no triangulation. This means I cannot talk to Beth about Lee.  I need to go straight to Lee to share my feedback. The challenge is that people often start to see each other as the characters that we started the blog with. I encourage each person to spend time with each team member for a few minutes and find 2-3 things you respect about the other person. I then ask the team members to share that with their teammates. It is amazing the reaction that you get from this exercise. First, there is resistance and by the end there generally is hugging and sometimes tears.

Does this mean we are all set? I wish…no, we will need to keep working on recognizing each other, living our values and adhering to our ground rules and revisiting our charter. However, if we connect with each other in our team meetings and try to recognize the efforts of our peers then there is a good chance we start to see the good in each other and stop seeing each other as heroes and villains.

Good luck on your team journey and let me know how you do at bringing your characters into a high performing team.