Learning How to Have Crucial Conversations with Skillsoft Coach Michael Oon

September 19, 2023 | Activate Learning | 5 min read

Effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful workplace. In fact, crucial conversations play a vital role in fostering understanding, collaboration, and growth among team members. These conversations, which often cover challenging topics, require a high level of skill to navigate successfully.

Coaching has emerged as a powerful tool in helping individual contributors lead through crucial conversations. By developing rapport with their coach, individuals can become more self-aware and reflective, enabling them to better understand their own communication style and best practices when approaching a tough conversation.

Take a peek at Skillsoft’s Coaching solution to see how our exceptional coaches can help your employees gain the skill set they need to have those critical conversations.

Meet Skillsoft Coach Michael Oon

Michael brings 30 years of experience to his coaches, inspiring individuals and teams to reach new heights. As a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), Michael excels in empowering individuals to navigate crucial conversations with ease.

Drawing from a diverse background, Michael possesses a deep understanding of industries ranging from software and services, financial services, food and beverage, insurance, retail, healthcare, technology, and education to non-profit sectors. Michael has 2,000 hours of coaching experience under his belt and is prepared to help his clients conquer their unique challenges and achieve their goals.

We had the pleasure of asking Michael a few questions to gain insight into his coaching philosophy and why coaching is an impactful training tool.

Skillsoft:Can you provide an overview of your coaching philosophy and approach?

Michael Oon: I believe every person has the ability to grow their capability to develop creative solutions. My approach with any client is to start by asking pertinent questions that help them search within themselves for solutions. When these are fully exhausted and they still can't come up with a solution, I will then frontload some ideas that will help seed their thinking towards the answers they are seeking.

How do you support learners in developing their leadership skills and enhancing their professional growth?

I help them with:

  • Increasing their self-awareness
  • Learning how to use other resources as opposed to trying to do everything by themselves
  • Listening more effectively and developing different perspectives to a situation
  • Influencing their colleagues to deliver results
  • Pursuing a bigger vision for themselves
  • Being proactive in developing themselves

Having had 30 years of leadership experience in the corporate world, I will share some of my learnings to help them along – I only do this when they have fully exhausted themselves and are not able to offer a solution. I offer myself as their sounding board so they can brainstorm their thoughts and ideas with me in a safe environment. Above all, I always find something in them so I can give encouragement and cheer them on.

Can you share any success stories or case studies from your previous coaching engagements?

One client was so inundated with work that she had no time for herself. She often took on work from her subordinates and would do work after hours during the weekdays and most weekends. Through my coaching, she's developed the skills and gained courage in initiating difficult conversations with her subordinates and has most of their work delegated back. In my last session with her, she said she has now joined a Zumba class on Wednesday nights and has also signed up for a photography course.

I recently received feedback from the Head of a Department at a Fortune 500 organization that she was petrified of having a confrontation with her Line Manager as he has quite a strong personality. I coached her on how to approach and engage this certain personality type and to use specific crucial conversational techniques. When the video camera was turned on at our last session, I saw a big smile on her face.

She's also managed to work through a sticky issue with her boss. He apologized and asked her to thank her coach for helping her with the problem. The situation has increased his awareness of his lack of empathy towards her and her staff.

What do you believe is the benefit to scaling leadership capabilities across the organization through coaching?

I believe coaching is the most effective way to get as many people as possible on board with a common vision and compel them to act towards a shared goal.

Coaching takes away the “Command and Control” element of traditional leadership. It engages the hearts and minds of employees. Leaders who are coached are more self-aware, more intentional in developing their own leadership skills; they are more empathetic and engaging.

Coaching leaders helps them shape the culture of their teams and work environments. It jogs their memories on what's missing, what's bad, and what's good – so they can in turn coach their team members to own and improve their workplace culture.

How do you stay updated with the latest trends and developments in leadership and coaching?

I use ICF as main resource for developing my knowledge in leadership development. I also meet regularly with other leadership coaches based in Brisbane and pick their brains from time to time. I prepare new material for group coaching locally. I also research what's the latest on the internet to generate these learning resources.

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