Course sections

Module Ten: Coaching and Managing With Appreciative Inquiry

Coaching and Managing With Appreciative Inquiry

Managing a group of people can be a difficult task by itself, much less trying to coach them in the right direction. Sometimes our good intentions can come across as critical, negative, or just plain mean. But when we use Appreciative Inquiry along with other coaching or management strategies, we can help our employees find a solution to their problems while also making them more positive and confident in themselves.  


Build Around What Works 

When we examine how our business is run, we notice what functions and works for everyone, and what doesn’t. The key to a well-managed team is building around what works and encouraging growth with it. As managers or leaders we can try to change things that derail our employees from what they usually do. While this is normally done with good intentions, it can often lead to a kink in the company plan and actually have the opposite effect of what we were hoping for. Notice what is working for the employees now and how well they function. If changes are needed (or attempted), try to incorporate the current structure while leading the employees in the new direction. 

Like the old saying goes: “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”  


Focus on Increases 

As a leader, we often look at our task list in a negative way. One of the first things we try to accomplish is to decrease certain areas, such as mistakes, tardiness, and complaints. But focusing on what we want to decrease normally includes negative attributes of the job. If we focus on these things for too long, we can drive ourselves to negativity very quickly.  

Instead, focus on what aspects can be increased. By focusing on what can be increased, we are focusing on positive attributes of the job, such as more sales, more goals, and more customer and employee satisfaction. If we approached an employee with the same problem, which route of improvement would they feel more confident taking – decreasing their typing mistakes or increasing their typing ability? 

Encourage increases in different areas: 

  • Sales 
  • Moral 
  • Productivity 
  • Confidence 


Recognize the Best in People 

Another aspect of being positive is being able to see the best in people instead of being critical. Of course no one is perfect and everyone has some kind of fault, but that does mean we have to define them by it. When we recognize the best in people, not only do we benefit from knowing what great attributes they can contribute, but it makes the employees feel more confident about themselves and their job skills.  

When they feel better about themselves, they want to do better at their job and will work harder to make progress and get the job done. Don’t be afraid to compliment employees on their job skills and what they have accomplished. When you find yourself focusing on what they have done wrong, refer to your mental list of all of their good qualities and determine which list overpowers the other. 


Limit or Remove Negative Comments 

Using negative terms and phrases is one of the leading causes of poor performance and low employee morale. These harsh words can damage any employee relationship and can often bring out a sense of defensiveness when approached. When you find yourself wanting to use negative phrases, either with yourself or an employee, stop and think of the words you’re using. Then rethink the sentence by removing negative comments and replacing them with a positive ones. You’ll find that you can still get your point across without making the employee feel as though they are being attacked. 

Remove comments such as: 

  • “It’s too hard.” 
  • “I’ll/You’ll never finish this.” 
  • “It’s too late to change now.” 
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