Happy National Mentoring Month! Here are simple coaching techniques you can apply at work (or just about anywhere).

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Happy National Mentoring Month! January is a great time to reflect on ways you can help others through being a mentor. Even if you don’t have time to mentor someone, there are ways you can help, such as simple coaching techniques you can apply at work.

Some people will tell you that you need to obtain formal training to be able to coach others. Yet when I think back to when I was growing up and early in my career, some of the best coaches I’ve ever had didn’t have any type of formal “coaching” training. After all, training and certification programs for career coaching only recently came into existence.

While training can be helpful, you don’t necessarily need it to be able to help others. And that’s what coaching and mentoring is all about: Helping others (individuals/teams) achieve results or overcome obstacles to get from where they are now to where they want to be in the future. This could be in their career, obtaining new skills, completing projects, overcoming issues in their personal life, playing sports, etc.

An approach I like to teach is what I call coaching “in-the-moment” — and it doesn’t require any lengthy training sessions. All it requires is the ability to observe others, ask questions and listen to their responses.

Most people learn through experience … and most learning can be enhanced with self-analysis. So the key to effective coaching is not to tell others how to do things; it’s to ask the kind of questions that will lead the person to discover answers for themselves.

Here are the three coaching “in-the-moment” questions:

  1. What went well? This highlights the specific things done well, so the positive actions can be remembered in the future.
  2. What didn’t go as well as expected? This question draws out areas for improvement. These are things within the person’s control, but could also reveal areas that are outside their span of control.
  3. If you had a do-over, what would you do differently? This encourages self-learning because it asks the person to apply the answers to the first two questions in a way that will help them improve future performance.

These questions can be asked in almost any situation to others (or even yourself) such as after a presentation, after completing a project or major task, after a job interview, after a meeting — the list is almost endless.

Coaching “in-the-moment” isn’t difficult — anyone can learn the technique. All it takes is some practice and a sincere heart to help others (and yourself) learn through their experiences. Try it today and see how it works.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at lquast@careerwomaninc.com.