Coaching Tips: Ask and Offer

Practical Ideas You Can Put To Use Within 48 Hours.


Here’s a simple tool that will significantly increase the value of your 1:1 meetings. The approach applies to 1:1 meetings with your direct reports and also with your boss. It’s called “Ask and Offer.” With your direct reports it’s an effective way to handle performance breakdowns as well as address development areas. With your boss, the “ask” is a positive way to request their support and the “offer” is an opportunity to extend your help to them. The approach can require some forethought but you’ll find your preparation becomes quicker and easier once you make it a regular part of your 1:1’s.

Here’s how it works:

Before you reach the end of your 1:1, present the other person with an “ASK.” The ask is a request of the other person designed to be an opportunity to tee up an area for improvement or development. This might be related to something you discussed during the 1:1 you would like to be handled differently based on a problem that arose. “I’d like to ask that the next time you are in a position where you have to choose between two priorities, reach out to me as soon as you know you have a conflict so we can work through it together.” The ask could be applied to something that is not happening now that you would like to see in the future. “I’d like you to increase your participation in our team meetings. You have great ideas and when you hold back we don’t get the benefit of your perspective.” The ask could also be applied in a 1:1 with your boss to an area where you would like some specific feedback. “The next time I present to the Executive Team, I would appreciate it if you could take notes on things I did well and ways I could improve so I could learn from the experience.”

The second part of the equation is the “OFFER,” where you offer assistance to the other person. Sometimes the offer has to do with extending help. “When you send emails to the whole department, I’d be glad to review them and offer suggestions before you send it out to the whole group.” The offer might be related to your experience or expertise. “I know you are dealing with some challenging suppliers right now. In my previous role I negotiated with some challenging suppliers and I’d be glad to help you think through your approach.” The offer might be related to using your connections or network. “I know the person in charge of those conferences and I’d be happy to talk with them about having you conduct a session if that was something you were interested in doing.” It’s easy to see how the offer can directly contribute to the other person’s development or improvement.

The “Ask and Offer” method seems simple and may already be naturally occurring based on what is covered in your 1:1 meetings. By preparing your asks and offers ahead of time and making this a regular part of your informal agenda, you can focus your conversation on actions, providing specific actions and behaviors that you can track and follow up on at future 1:1 meetings. To make asks and offers even more impactful, make them SMART by making sure they are specific, measurable, action-oriented, relevant and time-bound. Above all, make sure the recipient of your asks and offers feels you are realistic and sincere. Have fun with this!

Contributed by Todd Alexander

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