Based on the great book The Five Minute Coach – Improve performance rapidly with this post I share my current experience using that approach in my daily work.

A short summary of the 5 minute coaching approach

It’s a coaching approach that is available for beginners in coaching and can be applied during your daily routine (e.g. for action planning in retrospectives or a water cooler talk,…) and in coaching sessions. It’s build upon 5 stages where your coachee:

  • identifies an outcome
  • chooses the best outcome
  • discovers more about the chosen outcome
  • plans actions and
  • gets motivated to act

Every stage consists of an important set of questions that are derived from the clean language (see clean language questions) framework by David Grove and that are especially chosen for coaching purposes (see the detailed list of questions below).

The coaching approach recommends to follow these 10 guidelines.


  1. Pay close attention
  2. Use only the Five-Minute Coach questions
  3. Avoid the normal rules of conversation
  4. Repeat the coachee’s words
  5. Disregard grammatical rules
  6. Take notes
  7. Limit eye contact
  8. Encourage the coachee
  9. Use voice to influence
  10. Stay cool, calm and collected


For far deeper details I highly recommend to read the book – it works with many examples and coaching transcripts and explains all questions and their meaning in detail.


Just some impressions from using the 5-minute coaching approach for some weeks now:

  • It’s tough to keep all stages and questions in mind. I highly recommend printing it and to work with it often during the day to get used to the question patterns.
  • I already took notes heavily – so that the step to extensively writing notes and working with short codes was doable for me. But it’s a challenge and needs repeated practical exercise.
  • Breaking long term learned communication patterns – like eye contact, pacing and leading with body language, language adjustments – is a challenge too. But it works combined with writing – as this takes a lot of focus and concentration in addition to listening. It’s important to inform the coachee that you’ll use a new approach (as at least from my learning a “standard” coaching approach does exactly the opposite).
  • Repeating questions and answers – sometimes feels strange and I need to improve my timing when to switch to the next stage.
  • Stage 1 – is a real opener – as asking: “What would you like to have happen?” is a real new element for many.
  • So far I did not yet finish all 5 stages properly – so stay tuned on my next steps in that journey 😉
  • I used it during our coaching dojo sessions – and noticed that it’s tough to stay on top with the challenge – to listen, take notes and ask the questions – I guess it needs some time to get used to it. Btw the coaching dojo is a great format to get proper feedback e.g. on that method. For me an important way to further improve.
  • Language matters heavily – Germans – you can use a draft for a German translation for all questions (and maybe help me to further improve the translation) – as it’s not that easy to translate in time when being challenged with listening and writing in addition.

All 5 stages coaching questions

As I did not yet find a summary of all the questions used through the 5 stages I’ll shortly list them for you (please refer to the book for much more details). A first draft for a German translation of all questions can be found here.

Stage1  – Purpose: Identifying an outcome

And what would you like to have happen?

Stage 2 – Choosing the best outcome

And when [outcome in coachee’s words], then what happens?

And when [last answer], then what happens? (Repeat question, with each answer, until no new answers emerge)

And [outcome] and [recap all answers], what are you drawn to most?

Stage 3 – Discovering more about the outcome

And when [new outcome], what kind of [word or phrase from outcome]?

And when [last answer], is there anything else about [same word or phrase]?

And when [last answer], where is/are [same word or phrase]?

And when [last answer], whereabouts [last answer]?

And [last answer]. Given what you now know, what would you like to have happen?

Stage 4 – Action planning

And what needs to happen for [final outcome]?

And is there anything else that needs to happen for [final outcome]? (Repeat question until you hear first ‘no’)

And [final outcome and recap every action point], and is there anything else that needs to happen for [final outcome]? (Repeat question until you hear second ‘no’)

And [final outcome and recap every action point], and what needs to happen first? And can [previous answer]?

Stage 5 –  Motivate to act

And when [first thing], then what happens? (Repeat until coachee is in a positive state and seems keen to act)

And is that a good place to stop? (Hand over notes)


  • Exercise, exercise, exercise
  • Stage 1 – Stage 5 break trough
  • Clean language – learn much more about it
  • Next impression sharing with you


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What about you? Did you use the 5 minute coaching approach already? I would really like to listen to your experience!  You did never use it but plan to take a look into that topic – you’re highly welcome to share your first steps and impressions! Not interesting at all? Why? Thanks for all your comments in advance!