Coaching in the Moment

  • 18 February, 2022

Great managers are constantly looking for new and creative ways to coach, counsel and motivate their teams. Today, most managers get caught up focusing on just the process and forget one of the most important resources within their team-people. Coaching in the moment gives the manager and the individual they are coaching the ability to focus on the person (why), not just the obstacle (what). To create a long-term positive impact, a manager needs to utilize short- term tools to remain focused, curious, and patient throughout the coaching process. Success begins and ends with focusing on the right coaching tool for the right person in the right situation.

Coaching in the Moment


  1. Keep it Simple

    Coaching should not be complicated. Allowing both parties to mutually agree upon the big picture will help bring clarity once details become relevant. The coach must first understand what issue might be holding the individual back from making their best even better. Once the issue has been identified, the coach must think about why this coaching moment is necessary. Throughout the process, every good coach must use their active listening skills to ensure the focus remains on the individual they are coaching.

    What is going on with the individual is ultimately the reason a coaching conversation usually takes place. It becomes a reactive identifier that may have happened a few hours ago or perhaps has been an ongoing issue for quite some time. In any case, what is happening is an important beginning to the process so, each person has a baseline as to what needs to be addressed. Once the issue or concern has been identified and agreed upon, then the why becomes a crucial component during the coaching process. The why gives context to the specific nature of the issue. Is it skill-based, resource driven, environmental, behavioral, etc.? The why not only allows the coaching moment to drill down on the details but also helps reduce the ability for this obstacle to repeat itself. Recognizing the drivers or causes behind the behavior allows the coach to begin to empathize with the individual and look at the root causes of the issue. Both active and passive listening skills prove important during the process. An example of an active listener is one who seeks to understand while looking to place themselves in the speaker's mindset, whereas a passive listener is inevitably distracted and consistently waiting for the speaker to finish so they can finally respond. Being a strong listener has ranked highly in top leadership skillsets for years. Good coaches are careful not to let distractions get in the way of their ability to focus on the individual when coaching in the moment.

  2. Follow the Model

    While coaching in the moment, it helps to have a cheat sheet or a guide to help during the process. Utilizing the G.R.O.W. model provides a roadmap for both the coach and individual beginning with the goal and ending with the actions necessary to produce a successful outcome.

    Coaching in the Moment: GROW

    Great coaches have great questions. Here are some key questions to ask during the G.R.O.W. coaching process to get you started:

    Goal questions:

    1. What do you want to achieve?
    2. How important is it?
    3. How realistic is it?
    4. When do you want to start/finish?
    5. What will success look like?

    Reality questions:

    1. What is your current performance?
    2. What is happening now? Examples?
    3. Why is the situation like this?
    4. What have you done already?
    5. What were the effects of that action(s)?

    Option questions:

    1. What options do you have to achieve your goal?
    2. Are there options you have discarded? Why?
    3. If resources were unlimited, what would you do?
    4. What else could you do?

    Will questions:

    1. What will you do?
    2. Will that achieve your goal?
    3. When are you going to do it?
    4. What obstacles might you meet?
    5. What will happen if you choose not to accomplish your goal?

  3. Give Up Control

    A mantra for every coach should be, "it's not about me." Giving up control allows the individual to regain control over their circumstances, their fears, and the unknown. In other words, gaining control may give them the confidence to identify how the original issue happened, what needs to be done to fix it, and why it is necessary to make a change in the first place. In many cases, the coach may have a number of answers or simple fixes with a "do this and you'll be fine" resolution but creating an environment where the coach becomes the "go-to" with every challenging situation can cause more harm than good. I'm sure you are familiar with the adage "If you give someone a fish, they'll eat for a day; but teach them how to fish and they'll eat for a lifetime." Giving up control encourages the individual to answer their own questions which in turn begins to coach or train them into being responsible for any obstacles that arise. Even though the answers are usually within the individual, our role as coach is to help bring awareness to the answers and start the process of making necessary adjustments to create new habits.

    Coaching within the moment requires the individual to actually want to be coached. The environment between both parties must become a two-way process in order for it to succeed. The coach is irrelevant and essentially pushing water upfill if the individual has neither the drive nor willingness to make a change. Once there becomes a mutually-agreed-upon, measurable goal as well as a plan for how that goal will be reached, the journey can produce some huge dividends.

    Good luck coach!
About the Author: Scott Bush

Scott Bush received his bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in business from California State University, Pomona. He is President of Bredison and Associates, a global training and coaching company specializing in maximizing performance, increasing productivity, and making each individual's best even better!

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