I've done countless presentations at training industry conferences on my favorite topic: coaching. Specifically, Entelechy’s brand of developmental employee coaching. More specifically, on Entelechy’s unique, highly-effective, prescriptive model of coaching.

It’s clear from the huge numbers that attend my presentations that teaching managers to coach — to develop and engage their employees — continues to be one of the most pressing issues in management and leadership development today.

When I ask participants if they thought coaching was important, all said yes. When pressed on WHY then managers didn’t coach — or didn't coach effectively — the responses included:

  1. Time: Our managers don’t have (or say they don’t have) the time it takes to prepare for, conduct, and follow-up to a coaching session.
  2. They think they’re already coaching (part one): They mistake coaching for what we call Difficult Conversations. “This is the second time Joe’s come in late; I guess I need to have a coaching session with Joe.”
  3. They think they’re already coaching (part two): They think telling — what we call Feedback — is coaching. (Spoiler alert: it’s not.)
  4. They have too many people: This is associated with the time response above; our managers don’t have time to coach everyone … so they coach no one.

Entelechy differentiates among three different performance management conversations. (For a more in-depth overview of each conversation, see the offer at the end of the blog post.) Here's a quick snapshot:


Coaching is the conversation that managers use to engage and develop willing employees — employees who want to grow and develop (and while that’s not everyone, it is most of your team). Coaching is used to develop skills that are critical to the employee’s current (or immediate next) position. Coaching helps people perform better at their current jobs. And, who doesn’t want to excel?!

Entelechy’s Coaching Conversation Model is unique in that it prescribes what the coach should say. Unlike most coaching “models” that only talk about stuff like “you need to be empathetic” and “you need to be open,” Entelechy’s coaching model helps managers by giving them the words to say and the questions to ask.

And, most importantly, it’s SIMPLE! In our 25 years of experience, we know that if models aren’t prescriptive and simple, leaders don’t/won’t/can’t use them. That's why simplicity is one of our core leadership development philosophies.

Entelechy's Coaching Conversation

The above represents the core of the Coaching Conversation Model. As you can see, it is essentially three questions:

  1. "I know you’ve been working on [your meeting management skills]. How’s that been going?"
  2. "What have you done [regarding your meeting management skills] that’s gone well?" After listening, analyzing, and responding appropriately (not shown on the above portion of the model), we ask the same question a second time.
  3. "What might you have done differently [in your meeting that might have improved the meeting]?" And, after listening, analyzing, and responding accordingly, we ask the question a second time.

That’s it, three questions. And, the reason we ask questions is to encourage the employee to self-assess — to confidently and realistically evaluate his/her own performance. If we want independent, course-correcting, continuously-improving employees, we need to help them develop the skill of self-assessment.

Of course, because this is a conversation, we teach the nuance of listening, analyzing, and responding appropriately. And, we teach how to summarize and support to close the conversation.

In my workshops, I conduct a simple and eye-opening exercise in which I ask the entire audience to collectively be my coach. After I conduct a fake coaching session with a volunteer/victim, I turn to the audience and ask them to coach me on my coaching skills as demonstrated in my set-up coaching session. Here are the lessons from that exercise:

We know that coaching is asking those three questions, but when asked to coach me, invariably participants turn immediately to giving me feedback. Sure, feedback is important (actually critical) to performance, but feedback is about what WE — the manager — know. Coaching is finding out what the employee knows. Did the employee (me as the coachee in the workshop scenario) know how she did? Does the employee know what she did well (and should continue doing)? Does the employee know what she might do differently to improve?

When the audience understands that they are to coach me, not give me feedback, they quickly find the Coaching Conversation Model a simple, easy to adopt guide to a very effective conversation.

The Coaching Conversation Model builds the employee’s self-assessment muscle. And, in the process, we as coach find out how much the coachee knows — about his performance, his strengths, and his areas for development.

The Coaching Conversation is quick. Even with pauses for teaching moments, our exercise takes less than seven minutes. Typical coaching conversations take less than five minutes.

The Coaching Conversation — besides being easy to adopt — is easy to adapt. Its simplicity allows each individual to make the model fit his or her unique coaching style (although we do insist on maintaining a few tenets critical to the model’s success).

If you’d like to hear more about Entelechy’s unique Coaching Conversation Model and how you can bring it to your organization, please contact us. Here’s to developing strong coaches and self-aware employees!

Entelechy's Three Performance Conversations

Coaching is just one of the core management communication skills a strong leader must master. The other two are Feedback and Difficult Conversations. The Three Performance Conversations models are key elements of Entelechy's Unleash Your Leadership Potential program, designed to help your leaders achieve business results through people. Over the years, we've honed and refined our models so they are clear, simple, easy-to-use, and — most importantly — effective. To learn more, access Entelechy's Three Performance Conversations by clicking the button below:

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What Entelechy clients are saying...

"Coaching is a critical competency for leaders to develop and engage their teams. The Entelechy Coaching Model provides an easy to understand and practical approach to coaching employees. The structure provides questions for leaders to think through and ask when having coaching conversations.

Our experience working with Entelechy was fantastic, they listened to our needs and provided expertise in helping us to build self-guided training modules that we are excited to roll out as we build a coaching culture."

— Heather Besikof, Organizational Development Manager, Polaris