Effective questions to move forward

There are a range of coaching models and techniques available today. Overall, the most effective are those that ask great questions. Effective questions can help to:

  • Get us thinking and reflecting
  • Help to clarify goals
  • Identify needs
  • Connect us to our strengths
  • Explore options
  • Provide a template for stakeholders to follow when working through a situation
  • Keep the dialogue/discussion on track
  • Focus on the possibilities, and much more

Whether in-person coaching, over the internet or phone, through self-reflection or partnering with a family member or friend, taking some time to reflect on the path forward can provide you with some clarity as you plan to return to work.

Following is a compilation of some questions that you can ask yourself and reflect on. You do not need to respond to all of these. Choose the ones that seem particularly applicable to you, and take some time to think about your answers. Should you want to, you can record your responses. This step can help you to track progress, develop accountability, and build your confidence overall.


Preparation and Identifying Strengths

  • In six months, if things were going exactly the way you want, what would you see?
  • What would be your next goal after you achieve your current one?
  • What would be the impact on you and others if you were able to return to work?
  • What is working well?  What has contributed to your success so far?
  • What might keep you from getting where you want to go?
  • What obstacles have you faced, what did you do, and what did you learn?
  • What obstacles do you expect to face?  How do you plan to approach them?
  • If a friend were in your shoes, what advice would you give them?
  • What is one step you could take right now that would indicate you were moving forward?

Goals and Options

  • Which is the most important thing you want to achieve?  Be specific
  • Why is this goal important to you?
  • What would achieving this feel like?
  • Which alternative ways might you achieve this?
  • What are the advantages and dis-advantages of each option?
  • Which is the best/most effective option?
  • How can you overcome any obstacles?
  • Is there anyone who can help you?
  • Which tasks need to be completed to achieve the goal?
  • What is your deadline?
  • When do you want to achieve each task?
  • What is the first step?
  • When can you complete this step?

Return to Work Planning

  • How would you describe the current reality?
  • What might be some concerns you may have?
  • Can you more fully describe your concerns?
  • What are a few options that you have in return to work planning?
  • If something is not working, what is a viable alternative?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages you see in this suggestion?
  • What will you commit to do by when?

Personal Reflection

  • Do I agree or disagree?
  • How could this be helpful?
  • How does this fit, contradict or extend what I already believe to be true?

Stakeholders Performance

  • How well did this conversation or meeting go?
  • What has the group done well to support the return to work process?
  • What could the group do better?
  • What are we not doing that we could be doing?
  • What actions are we going to take as a group next time that will improve our performance?

Forward Progress

  • How do you feel about your progress thus far?
  • What have you accomplished so far that you are most pleased with?
  • How would you describe the way you want your return to work to turn out?
  • What key things need to happen to achieve the objective?
  • What kind of support do you need to ensure success?

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