5 Coaching Questions to Boost Team Productivity

Often when managers are tasked to manage projects and teams, productivity is one critical area they need to have a steady pulse on. Productivity affects the timeline, cost and ultimately, the success of the entire project. While you as the manager may be able to maintain a high level of productivity due to your years of experience and training, the key is to get your team to be equally as productive or perhaps, better.
You and I know that although processes may have been set and each of your staff has their own deliverables but that does not guarantee they will be on track. Instead of holding them accountable to their task, or worst, introducing punishment systems, a better way to go around it is by coaching them to overcome their setbacks. Coaching is also one of the essential skills that have to be on the belt of all good leaders and today, let’s look at a few questions that can make you a great one.
Before we start, do know that the coaching approach is very different from instructional. Being the latter meant you spell out the details for them, which is terrible because one method may not work for all, due to our individual strengths and attitude. Also, being overly instructional will also prohibit growth and creativity among your staff. Coaching, on the other hand, involves asking strategic and effective questions, and allowing your team to come to a conclusion on their own. Not only will they feel empowered to arrive at the solution, it will also help in keeping them accountable.
At this juncture, I also have to put in the reminder for you that coaching requires patience and active listening and anytime you felt the urge to prescribe a solution, make a conscious effort to hold back.
Ready? Let's hit the road with these powerful coaching questions.

1. Who can I connect you to so you can resolve this issue?

This is to address the issue of connectivity. As a manager, sometimes you are in a better position to start a conversation with someone else who’s of a senior rank. It’s not about exercising your power but rather about expediting the connection between your staff and the person that can help resolve their stumbling block. However, your staff must be able to identify the people they need your help to connect with on their own.

2. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you attempt that?

Sometimes, the fear of trying or rather failing, is what is holding your staff back from being in peak productivity mode. The human mind is an interesting instrument. While it can be used to solve complex problems, it can also backfire and aggravate or exaggerate insignificant details. Just as the old saying that F.E.A.R. being the acronym of False Evidence Appearing Real in your staffs' mind. They probably have overthought the negative consequences of their actions, causing paralysis analysis and inaction.
By asking them to identify the worst scenario, this will help them come to terms with reality and objectively look for ways to navigate around the problem, should any issues arise. Remind them that painting the worst scenario doesn’t necessarily mean that it will come true; it’s just a way to remain objective about the situation.

3. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your experience of executing this task? What would make it a (The number they gave +2)?

Once in a while, we are tasked a job that we are not the most enthusiastic about. As leaders, we know we need to get it done, but that may not be an attitude that your staff may adopt naturally. While you can get them pumped up on the task or push them to a point of momentum, asking this coaching question instead gives them an opportunity to be more introspective about the matter.
The first question will get them to come to terms with their willingness to complete the task. Pulling a number from a scale is always an excellent way to add the element of measurement to something intangible, like emotions. The second part of the question encourages them to think of ways to create a better environment, may it be externally or internally, to add more enthusiasm to the job. This process will also mentally condition them to adopt the criteria for success the next time they are faced with similar issues with productivity.

4. What resources do you need to speed up this process?

As world’s #1 success coach Anthony Robbins would say, “we are only as resourceful as the states we are in.” Lack of productivity can be linked to subpar technologies, old processes, expired methods or irrelevant techniques. By asking this question, you are helping your team to identify specific resources that may require an upgrade, so they can up their productivity and effectiveness.
A good follow-up question, or perhaps another way of asking, is "What’s the single contributor to the poor results you are experiencing?” This is also known as the coaching question to eliminate bottlenecks.

5. Based on your past experiences, when can this be done?

At one point, both of you know that time is against everyone. The looming deadline is one thing that can rob someone from a peaceful sleep. While your staff is aware of the timeline, getting him or her to verbalize it is an excellent way to solidify their accountability. The first part of the question also serves to help them draw from their own experience, rather than plucking a random number from the sky or allowing them to pick a safe answer by under-committing.
Do note that for this question, it is crucial for you to be mindful of the tone, because otherwise, it will sound imposing, or may even be perceived as a threat.


Coaching is like a muscle, one that great leaders flex and practice and build every day. In the beginning, these coaching questions may feel awkward for both parties, especially if the concept is new. Over time, however, your team will start reaping the benefits as they become more effective at their job, more resourceful with their ideas and more motivated at their job. All those benefits are significant wins for you.