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Post a cohesive paragraph discussing your experiences with coaching and/or mentoring.
Your introduction must include the following: See attachment for details ??

  • 3 -4 ?paragraphs
  • No plagiarism?
  • APA ?citing?

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Class Caf?

The ?Class Caf? may be used on an ongoing basis throughout your course for discussions with your peers that do not necessarily relate to the formal content of this course. While your Instructor will be in the Caf? during the first week to interact with you in an effort to get to know you and your peers, this space is intended to be an informal place for peers to interact, and thus your Instructor may not monitor this area of the classroom beyond Week

In your work environment, do you feel you are working at your full potential? Or is there something getting in your way? According to Gallup (2017), in 2016 almost 70% of U.S. workers were not engaged at work. Just imagine how much it costs organizations to have employees working below their potential. One way to overcome this discrepancy is through rich coaching and mentoring experiences. Coaching and mentoring can help unlock a person’s potential so that his or her performance can be maximized. ?

This week, you will familiarize yourself with the definitions of coaching and mentoring, focusing on the similarities and differences between them. You will then take some time to think about situations in which coaching, and mentoring would be effective. Finally, you will have the opportunity to work with a partner to begin practicing your coaching and mentoring skills.

To prepare for this Discussion, pay particular attention to the following Learning Resources:

? Review this week?s Learning Resources, especially:

? Coaching & Mentoring ? See Attachment

? Staff Coaching – See Attachment

? Mentoring vs Coaching –
Mentoring vs Coaching: Which do you need? [2022] | Diversity for Social Impact?

Hunt, J. M., & Weintraub, J. R. (2017). The coaching manager: Developing top talent in business (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Flaherty, J. (2010). Coaching: Evoking excellence in others (3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann.

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Post?a cohesive paragraph discussing your experiences with coaching and/or mentoring.
Your introduction must include the following:

? What is your experience with coaching?

? What is your experience with mentoring?

? What do you hope to learn in this course?

? How can we meet your expectations?

? How will you know that your expectations have been met?

? 3 -4 paragraphs

? No plagiarism

? APA citing

302 | 800-933-3711


et?s begin by stating the obvious: a medical practice
manager, by definition, is an individual who man-
ages a medical practice. Does it make sense, then,
that a practice manager?s first thought is to manage?

Of course. That is as it should be. When it comes to appoint-
ment scheduling, inventory control, equipment, facilities,
finances, contracts, patient records, and so forth, managing
is exactly what practice managers need to do.

However, the more human aspects of medical practice
management sometimes call for a different approach.
Managing will not always foster, nurture, and draw out
the very best from the medical practice team. Sometimes,
employees will benefit much more if the practice manager
functions less as a manager and more as a coach. As Green1
succinctly puts it, ?We have to be both coaches?and man-
agers. To lead effectively, we need to know when to wear
which hat.?


When we manage others, we generally tell them what to
do to get a job done. Usually, managers act from greater

experience, knowledge, or training than those they man-
age. In some cases, the manager has done the very job of
those he or she manages, and manages from the strength
of that experience. Nonetheless, the manager?s position
is from above, and his or her primary tools are command
and control. Managers get things done by directing and
monitoring staff performance. They set the bar for their
employees. They share their expectations and require-
ments through tasking, directives, and initiatives, and by
measuring outcomes.

Coaching is a most effective
approach whenever we are trying
to develop the best in others.

Certainly, it makes sense to manage in situations where
immediate needs are paramount and when we need to
achieve specific outcomes efficiently and quickly. As Stack2
suggests, ?Your team members look to you for answers, and
rightly so in critical circumstances.? Managing can also be

Staff Coaching: Using Active?Listening
and Powerful Questions to?Unleash
Your Staff?s Potential
Laura Hills*

Although the terms coach and manage sometimes are used interchangeably,
they are, in fact, very different from one another.?This article explores that differ-
ence and argues that coaching is the best approach to take when medical prac-
tice managers wish to develop the best in their employees. This article explores
active listening as an essential skill in coaching. It describes 8 characteristics of
active listening and offers 10 tips practice managers can use to listen actively
when they are coaching their employees. This article also suggests that practice
managers ask their employees powerful questions. It describes the characteris-
tics of powerful questions and offers 50 powerful questions practice managers
can use. Finally, this article provides five tools to keep coaching conversations
going, practical strategies practice managers can use to take their coaching skills
to the next level, and a quick-reference chart describing when to manage and
when to coach medical practice employees.

KEY WORDS: Coach; manage; active listening; powerful questions; employee
development; retention; loyalty; employee engagement.

*Practice leadership coach, consultant,
author, seminar speaker, and President
of Blue Pencil Institute, an organization
that provides educational programs,
learning products, and professionalism
coaching to help professionals acceler-
ate their careers, become more effec-
tive and productive, and find greater
fulfillment and reward in their work,
10618 Regent Park Court, Fairfax, VA
22030; phone: 703-691-8468; e-mail:
[email?protected]; website:; Twitter:
Copyright ? 2018 by
Greenbranch Publishing LLC. | 800-933-3711

Hills | Staff Coaching 303

a useful approach when employees have never undertaken
a task before and whenever they need a leader to tell them
what to do and how to do it. Adds Stack, ?Sometimes a
team just needs someone to coordinate, while everyone
else does their piece of the project.?

Coaches get things done by guiding
staff performance, by anticipating
and clearing obstacles from
their paths, and by supporting
their employees? immediate
and long-term career goals.

Coaching, on the other hand, is a most effective ap-
proach whenever we are trying to develop the best in oth-
ers. The coach does not direct others. In fact, the coach
doesn?t set an agenda for the coaching; the person being
coached does. As Green1 explains, ?Coaching involves ex-
ploring, facilitating, partnership, long-term improvement,
and many possible outcomes.? The coach?s position is be-
side the employee, and his or her primary tools are active
listening and powerful questions. Coaches get things done
by guiding staff performance, by anticipating and clearing
obstacles from their paths, and by supporting their employ-
ees? immediate and long-term career goals. Stack explains
that when you coach, ?You teach your people the ropes
as necessary, acting as a mentor rather than autocrat, and
otherwise make suggestions in real time concerning what
they can do to tweak their behavior toward an optimum.?
When employees don?t quite reach a standard or goal,
coaches may praise what they did well, but they will also
shine a light on where employees showed weakness. They
focus attention on what employees can improve, but they
won?t tell them how to do it. Whenever possible, they will
pull next steps from the employees themselves, rather than
tell them what to do.

Coaching can help practice
managers to engage their
employees, to foster employee
loyalty, and to improve
employee retention.

Medical practice managers who use a coaching ap-
proach with their employees will develop more effective
teams in the long run. That?s because they will develop
better people. Coaches change people?s lives, often in
profound ways. As Harski3 explains, ?Good coaches show
team members their potential, help them find confidence

in their work, point out the value of what they do, and
inspire them to be the best versions of themselves.? They
help employees feel that someone is in their corner and
that with that needed support, they can improve and
grow. Adds Harski, ?Every time we coach an individual,
we as leaders have that opportunity to have an impact on
him or her.?

There?s another slightly less obvious benefit of coaching
medical practice employees; coaching can help practice
managers to engage their employees, to foster employee
loyalty, and to improve employee retention. Most employ-
ees want to continue to work in a place where they feel that
they are able to achieve their own career goals and where
they feel supported in their own development. A practice
manager who coaches employees can help them feel that
way about the medical practice. As Stack succinctly puts it,
?Coaches create the kind of engaged, empowered employ-
ees needed for survival today.? In the end, employees are
more likely to stay with an employer who they feel brings
out the best in them.


Active listening is an essential skill in coaching. Yet, lis-
tening is probably the most overlooked, misunderstood,
and undervalued communication skill. As Hills4 suggests,
?Most of us take listening for granted and don?t think much
about our listening skills.? Unfortunately, we can fall into
passive, uncritical, distracted listening all too easily. When
that happens, our listening becomes short and shallow,
Hills warns.

When we listen actively, we
must concentrate fully to
absorb all of what it is the
speaker is saying, even when
we want to do otherwise,
even if the speaker is dull or
illogical or all over the place.

On the surface, active listening appears to be a simple
skill. We listen all the time, so we reason: how hard can
it be to listen actively? However, we listen actively only
when we?re paying really close attention. That means that
our minds can?t wander, even for a little while. We can?t
drift into our own memories. We can?t start generating
solutions for the issue at hand. And we can?t mentally
argue with the speaker. When we listen actively, we must
concentrate fully to absorb all of what it is the speaker is
saying, even when we want to do otherwise, even if the
speaker is dull or illogical or all over the place. We must

304 Medical Practice Management | March/April 2018 | 800-933-3711

pay careful attention to the speaker?s body language and
how the speaker uses the space he or she occupies. We
must also consider what the speaker is not saying.

For most of us, listening actively
will require new habits, care,
and consistent effort.

Active listening is challenging for a couple of reasons.
For one thing, many of us assume that we listen well
enough and don?t try to improve our listening skills. For
another, most of us have had little or no training in active
listening. As Hills suggests, ?Listening is rarely taught or
intentionally practiced and it is almost always assumed.?
Another reason that active listening can be difficult is
that listening is the easiest communication skill for us to
fake. Says Hills, ?Some of us have become masterful at
pretending that we?re listening when we aren?t.? For these
reasons, many people find it difficult to stay engaged in
active listening even when they want to. Old habits do

indeed die hard. For most of us, listening actively will
require new habits, care, and consistent effort.

Although active listening is challenging, it is absolutely
essential whenever a practice manager steps into the role
of coach. In fact, as Aguilar5 argues, ?Active listening is the
highest priority skill for a coach to master and it must be
mastered prior to success using any other strategy.? This
is so, Aguilar says, because the core of active listening is
empathy. Says Aguilar, ?It?s not so much about the exact
words that you use as the listener, it?s about the feeling
behind them. It?s about who you are being when you use
them?are you being a caring, compassionate coach? Or
are you being someone who is trying to be right . . . ?? Active
listening is a needed foundation for building trust and con-
nection between you and your employee. Coaches who use
active listening effectively can guide their employees into
personally challenging coaching explorations, even into
?the scary realm,? Aguilar says. From there, employees may
be able to experience deep insights and make big changes
that ultimately will lead to their personal growth, she says.


The International Coaching Federation (ICF)6 defines ac-
tive listening in coaching as the ability to focus completely
on what the client is saying and is not saying, to understand
the meaning of what is said in the context of the client?s
desires, and to support client self-expression. Of course,
as a medical practice manager, your coaching ?client? will
be your employee. Nonetheless, the ICF offers good advice
that medical practice managers can use when they coach
their employees. Specifically, the ICF says that any coach
who listens actively does the following:
1. Attends to the client and the client?s agenda and not to

the coach?s agenda for the client;
2. Hears the client?s concerns, goals, values, and beliefs

about what is and is not possible;
3. Distinguishes between the client?s words, tone of voice,

and body language;
4. Summarizes, paraphrases, reiterates, and mirrors

back what the client has said to ensure clarity and

5. Encourages, accepts, explores, and reinforces the cli-
ent?s expression of feelings, perceptions, concerns,
beliefs, suggestions, etc.;

6. Integrates and builds on the client?s ideas and sugges-

7. ?Bottom-lines? or understands the essence of the cli-
ent?s communication and helps the client get there
rather than engaging in long, descriptive stories; and

8. Allows the client to vent or ?clear? the situation without
judgment or attachment in order to move on to the
next steps.

When to Manage, When to Coach

Knowing when to manage and when to coach your employees will be critical to your effectiveness as a
practice manager. Stack1 offers the following suggestions:

Management is needed when:

77 A crisis requires quick, positive results.
77 You are handling new, inexperienced personnel, espe-
cially those tackling a task for the first time.

77 The team needs to complete (and may be resisting)
low-level or unpopular tasks.

77 You are meeting difficult deadlines when every min-
ute counts.

Coaching is needed when you wish to:

77 Support your team while guiding them in their career

77 Work together with your team to define and facilitate
the best strategies for your team and your organ-

77 Share your mission, vision, and goals in a transparent
way with your team members and invite them to join
you in your quest for success.

77 Facilitate everyone?s progress toward the goals you?ve
mutually set, as well as toward organizational goals.?


1. Stack L. Managing vs. coaching: in today?s workplace,
you really need both. TLNT. July 7, 2014.
need-both/. Accessed November 21, 2017. | 800-933-3711

Hills | Staff Coaching 305

According to Lee,7 two conditions must be present for
a coach to listen actively, as the ICF has described above.
The first is calmness. Lee suggests, ?A calm mind will free
you from the anxiety and need to try to be helpful.? When
your mind is calm and at rest, all thoughts are silenced, to
help you focus on the one thing that matters: listening. The
second condition that Lee suggests will help you listen ac-
tively is curiosity. Says Lee, ?A healthy level of curiosity will
heighten your interest in the person you?re speaking to.? If
you are curious, you will naturally pay close attention and
ask the right questions to make the coaching conversation
productive, Lee says.


When it comes to active listening, as with most skills,
there is no substitute for practice. You?ve got to close your
mouth, focus your mind, and listen purely for comprehen-
sion, and you?ve got to do this repeatedly to hone your
active listening skills. To help, Hills4 suggests the following
10 strategies:

1. Eat well and get plenty of rest. It?s challenging to lis-
ten actively when your stomach is grumbling or you?re

2. Commit to being fully present. Consciously decide
to put aside the task you?re working on or whatever
is on your mind. Don?t attempt to multitask. Give the
speaker your full attention.

3. Put aside biases. You may have a history with some
employees or topics that bias you for or against them.
Let go of prejudgments and keep an open mind.

4. Choose a venue with good ventilation and a comfort-
able temperature. When you can control the listening
venue, make sure that the room is neither too warm
nor cool and that the air circulates. Poor air quality can
impede your ability to pay attention.

5. Turn off electronic distractions. Make sure you won?t
see or hear anything to derail your active listening.

6. Don?t interrupt. Let the speaker complete the thought.
Allow time for silence when the speaker stops. Pause
and reflect before you respond. This is difficult for
many of us, but essential for processing the messages
we?re receiving.

7. Focus on meaning, not words. Don?t let a speaker?s
occasional malapropism, mispronunciation, or gram-
matical error derail you from the message. Don?t be
distracted by words with an emotional charge. Recog-
nize your hot buttons and defuse them.

8. Stay with it. Listening in spurts and then taking breaks
may cause you to miss important information or cues.
Recognize when your mind is wandering and inten-
tionally pull it back to the listening task.

9. Listen between the lines. Search for meaning that
isn?t necessarily put into the speaker?s spoken words.
Pay attention to nonverbal communication (e.g., facial

expressions, gestures, and speed, volume, and tone of
voice) to see if you can tease out meaning.

10. Paraphrase to check for comprehension. Ask the
speaker to elaborate on any point that isn?t clear to you.


As the title of this article suggests, there are two tools
medical practice managers can use to unleash their staff?s
potential through coaching: (1) active listening and (2)
powerful questions. At first glance, it may seem that
powerful questions are simply questions that have the
potential to make a profound impact. While this is true, it
is helpful for us to explore more specifically what power-
ful questions are and what they can do. Let?s look at this
in three ways.

First, Vogt8 suggests that powerful questions are distin-
guished from ordinary questions by nine characteristics.
According to Vogt, powerful questions are those that:
1. Stimulate reflective thinking;
2. Challenge assumptions;
3. Are thought-provoking;
4. Generate energy to explore;
5. Channel inquiry;
6. Promise insight;
7. Are broad and enduring;
8. Touch a deeper meaning; and
9. Evoke more questions.

Following Vogt, a coach would focus on the depth and
quality of response the questions elicit. Powerful questions
would be those you ask to dig deeper and to expand your
employee?s thinking. They are also questions that are likely
to propel the coaching conversation forward.

Second, the ICF suggests that coaches who have the
ability to ask powerful questions do so to reveal the in-
formation needed for maximum benefit to the coaching
relationship and the client. According to the ICF, a coach
using powerful questions asks questions that:
1. Reflect active listening and an understanding of the cli-

ent?s perspective;
2. Evoke discovery, insight, commitment, or action (e.g.,

those that challenge the client?s assumptions);
3. Are open-ended and create greater clarity, possibility, or

new learning;?and
4. Move clients toward what they (the clients) desire.

The ICF suggests that powerful questions are not those
that ask clients to justify or to look backward. What is sig-
nificant here is that powerful questions are designed first
and foremost to be beneficial to the client, not to serve
some other purpose.

Finally, Miglino9 suggests three characteristics of power-
ful questions. These questions are:

306 Medical Practice Management | March/April 2018 | 800-933-3711

1. Open-ended: They?re not yes or no questions and they
often begin with the word what. Example: What oppor-
tunity is here?

2. Challenging: Powerful questions may cause a little

3. Free of judgment: They are curious questions with no
agenda behind them.

Miglino?s focus on discomfort is important. Personal
and professional growth sometimes requires us to go
places that we?d rather not go. Be mindful, however, that
a coach is not a therapist. If you uncover concerning is-
sues through your use of powerful questions, discontinue
the coaching session and refer the employee to a qualified
mental health professional for appropriate help. Do not
overreach your capabilities.

As we consider the use of powerful questions in coach-
ing, it becomes clear that powerful questions are not
those that can be answered easily or quickly. Powerful
questions require a thoughtful response, one that has the
potential to lead the employee to new and better insights.
Clearly, the medical practice manager who asks power-
ful questions must have the employee?s trust. Otherwise,
the employee is unlikely to open up to the coaching
experience. The coach also must be very careful in tone,
demeanor, and words not to come across as accusatory.
There are many ways to ask an employee, ?Why did you
hesitate just now?? or ?What do you think was behind
your behavior?? Asking powerful questions well is a skill
that can be learned and honed. Practice asking powerful
questions with someone you trust and who can provide
you with high-quality feedback. For examples of power-
ful questions, see the sidebar ?50 Powerful Questions You
Can Use to Coach Your Employees.?


When you coach an employee, there may be lulls, stalls,
and even dead ends in your conversations. The Coach-
ing Tools Company10 recommends having a plan in place
for those challenging moments. When coaches get stuck,
the trick is to take a deep breath and ask a question to get
the employee to show you the next step. The Coaching
Tools Company recommends that you trust the coaching
process and trust your employee to know what is best for
him or her. Specifically, develop a bag of coaching tricks
that includes the following five tools. They can help you to
propel the coaching conversation forward.
1. Catch-all questions for when you don?t know what to

ask: Examples: What would be the best question I could
ask you now? If you were coaching yourself, what would
you ask yourself now? I don?t know where to go with
this; where would you go?

2. Softeners for tough questions: Examples: I?m curious?
Just for a moment?Let?s suppose?I was wondering?
Would it be OK for us to play with this?

3. Phrases for dealing with talkative employees: Ex-
amples: I?m going to interrupt you here. So, tell me what
finally happened. In a nutshell, what is the issue? If we
were to take a helicopter view, what would you need me
to know? If you could sum up the situation in one word
or phrase, what would it be?

4. Responses to ?I don?t know?: Examples: Just feel into
the question for a moment. Just let me know when
you?ve thought of something. What?s it like for you not
to know right now?

5. Wrap-up phrases to end a coaching session: Examples:
What do you feel was the most beneficial part of today?s
session? What was your biggest win of today?s session?
What specifically that you?ve learned here today can you
use/will help you most as you move forward?


Coaching will be attractive to medical practice managers
who are looking for new ways to develop their employees
but also to those who wish to grow professionally and per-
sonally. In fact, coaching can add an exciting new dimen-
sion to your career. At this time, coaching is not regulated
by any country or state. You do not need to be credentialed
to coach, and you may begin coaching your employees, or
for that matter anyone, any time that you feel that you are
ready to do so. However, you may find that you would like
to learn more about coaching and improve your coaching
skills. If so, there are many ways to do this.

For example, many books, articles, and videos are
available that will help you broaden your understanding
of coaching. If coaching is new to you, this may be a good
place for you to begin. You may find it particularly help-
ful to watch videos of actual or mock coaching sessions
so you can get a feel for how coaching typically looks
and sounds. Another good strategy is to engage a coach
personally so you can experience the power of coaching
first-hand. You also may find it helpful to practice coach-
ing one or more people you know and who you can trust
to give you useful feedback. That will give you some valu-
able experience before you take your coaching live with
your employees.

If coaching becomes important to you, you may want
to pursue coach-specific training, either face-to-face or
online. Look for an excellent, reputable program. You also
may want to work one-on-one with a coach-mentor who
can help you improve your coaching. Ultimately, you may
choose to pursue membership in a professional coaching
organization such as the International Coaching Federa-
tion, and even to pursue coach credentialing. Truly, with | 800-933-3711

Hills | Staff Coaching 307

coaching, there is no limit to what you can learn and how
much you can help others. Y

1. Green H. Know when to manage and when to coach. Forbes . May 1,

when-to-manage-and-when-to-coach/#5806995223be. Accessed
November 21, 2017.

2. Stack L. Managing vs. coaching: in today?s workplace, you really need
both. TLNT. July 7, 2014.
todays-workplace-you-really-need-both/. Accessed November 21,

3. Harski C. Why the coach approach beats the manager mentality. Entre?
preneur . February 18, 2014.
Accessed November 21, 2017.

4. Hills L. They?ll eat out of your hand if you know what to feed them: the
30 essential communication skills that give highly successful career

The best and most powerful questions will grow organi-cally from the coaching conversations you have with
your employees. However, the list below of 50 powerful
coaching questions can help you learn what powerful
questions sound and feel like. Identify those that you feel
will be most useful with your employees. Practice them
aloud so you can ask them comfortably during your coach-
ing sessions.
1. What?s missing from this picture so far? What is it we?re

not seeing?
2. What do we need more clarity about?
3. What?s most important to you about it and why do

you care?
4. What assumptions do we need to test or challenge

here in thinking about it?
5. What opportunities can you see in this?
6. What would it take to create change on this issue?
7. What would be the biggest impact if you achieve

your goal?
8. What?s emerging for you? What new connections are

you making?
9. What?s been your major learning, insight or discovery

so far?
10. If there was one thing that hasn?t yet been said in order

to reach a deeper level of understanding/clarity, what
would that be?

11. If our success was completely guaranteed, what bold
steps might we choose?

12. On a scale of 1 to 10, how excited do you feel about
taking these actions? What would make it a 10?

13. What?s your favorite way of sabotaging yourself and
your goals? If you were going to sabotage yourself on
this project, how would you do it?

14. What are you trying to prove to yourself?
15. What small steps can you take to get you closer to

your vision?
16. What do you think the moral of that story is?
17. What are you waiting for?
18. What part of what you?ve just said could be an

19. If I were in your shoes and asked for advice, what

would be the first thing you?d tell me?
20. What mistakes have you made today?

21. Where do you have unrealistic expectations of

22. What parts of yourself are you keeping bottled up but
are dying to let out?

23. What?s keeping you from taking action?
24. How can you get the skills/knowledge/information

you need?
25. What should I say to you if I spot you doing this?
26. What do you want more of/less of in your job?
27. What are you tolerating/putting up with?
28. Can you imagine your desired outcome? Describe it

to me.
29. Where are you not respecting yourself right now?
30. How could you bring more creativity, fun, and joy in

your work?
31. If the same obstacle came up again, what would you

do? What can you learn from this?
32. What other areas of your work/life may be affected by

this change?
33. What do you not want me to ask you?
34. What?s the problem in a nutshell? In one sentence? In

a word?
35. What are you avoiding? How does this impact you in

your work? In your life?
36. Where could you be more forgiving and understanding

of others? Or yourself?
37. What might need to change?
38. Let?s take your concern to its logical conclusion. What?s

the worst thing that can happen?
39. If you secretly didn?t want to achieve your goal, what

would you do?
40. How would you like to be held accountable?
41. What would happen if you raised your expectations?
42. What are you not saying?
43. What do you cons

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