During coach training it is incredibly valuable to have questionnaires for use during coaching sessions for several reasons: it provides concrete examples of how to word questions, it teaches a flow or process for coaching, and it makes it easier to focus on the client. At the Center for Coaching Certification, in the Certified Professional Coach class, questionnaires are provided. The feedback from participants is that they value the learning from using questionnaires. In the Certified Master Coach class there are no questionnaires. Participants sometimes prepare and in doing so sometimes are using questions from the various questionnaires they received previously and then tweaking them or using them in a different order. In the Master Coach class the participants focus on the listening and then formulate questions in the moment. This progression in training provides a solid foundation while also creating comfort and confidence with dancing in the moment – part of the competencies of a coach.
Outside of coach training does it make sense to use questionnaires? Start by considering the pros and cons of using a questionnaire:
- Opportunity for advance preparation
- More easily ensure questions are open
- Less focus on formulating a question and more on listening
- Missed opportunities if stuck to rigidly
- Less use of client’s language
- Less tailoring for client style
Consider a blend. Learn coaching questions and process by using questionnaires while in coach training. Practice with the same questionnaires after coach training several more times. Then start shifting. Prepare with a general flow and set of questions and then in the session have it handy to perhaps use and perhaps not based on what happens with the client. Over time move to being solid in how to formulate questions and questions that are particularly powerful and completely dance in the moment with the client. From time to time revisit the questionnaires to remind yourself of great questions, to refresh your process, and to further refine the flow of your coaching sessions.