Why Great Coaching Starts With Questions, Not Advice

Oct 6, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Advice from a health coach can be invaluable in helping someone pursue their health goals, whether that be losing weight, reducing chronic disease risk or just feeling stronger and healthier. But evidence shows advice should not be the first step. In fact, when a coach suggests a predetermined diet or exercise plan without first listening to the client’s concerns, goals, abilities and preferences, it can end up doing more harm than good.

Yes Health has a different approach. When your members join our all-mobile, health coaching platform, the first thing they do is fill out a brief onboarding survey. Those answers give our coaches the information they need to ensure a personalized, effective experience for each person that meets his or her objectives. Here are three of those questions and why they matter:


Learn more strategies to engage members in transforming their health in our eBook, “Digital Health: 3 Ways Yes Health Engages Health Plan Members

Question #1: How ready do you feel to make changes to your lifestyle to achieve your goals?

Research shows the first step in helping an individual pursue an important lifestyle change is to receive the person’s buy-in. Another term for that is “readiness to change.” In other words, does the member acknowledge that he or she has a problem that needs to be solved, and is the member ready to participate in solving it? 

When members identify they are ready and willing to make the necessary changes, they are in a good place to receive help. As the American Academy of Family Physicians puts it, this question puts the physician (in our case, the coach) and patient on the same page with regard to goals. It’s akin to the member stepping up to the starting line to begin a race. Now the member is ready for the work to begin.

Question #2: What types of activities would you like to track?

The Yes Health app allows users to track progress on their goals right from their home page, so we identify and record those goals through this important onboarding question. Users can choose to track activities like “daily step goal,” “focus on veggies,” “limit fried foods” or “embrace positivity.” When they complete an activity, they can check it off on the daily tasks, include a short description or message to their coaches and even post a photo illustrating the action. Their coaches can respond right away with encouragement and feedback.

Additionally, coaches can check member tasks lists and send gentle reminders or targeted resources related to that goal. An additional “Progress” tab tracks how each member is doing in three areas – nutrition, fitness and wellness – as determined by the completion of their weekly goals.

Finally, members can post questions and receive in-the-moment responses. For instance, maybe the member has questions about ingredients in a recipe, portion size or the correct way to do an exercise. A coach is always available to answer quickly and provide the information the member needs.

Through this personalized and immediate identification and tracking of goals, members stay on task and engaged, improving their chance of success.


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Question #3: What are your biggest challenges with eating/exercise?

Great coaches understand not only members’ goals, but what stands in the way of meeting those goals. For instance, if what has held a member back in the past has been health conditions, the coach can reach out to identify those conditions and create a plan with that in mind. If the past challenges were related to stress, the coach can provide some additional resources on stress management, as well as suggest diet and exercise practices that can help reduce stress.

When members are equipped with information, resources and support to address their challenges, they  are much more likely to experience success.

Personalization Drives Engagement

The Yes Health onboarding questionnaire contains many additional questions designed to help Yes Health coaches better understand each member and design a program specific to his or her goals and preferences. This personalized approach makes sure each member feels known, which increases engagement and motivation.

Of course, the onboarding questions are only the first step toward that end. Once members complete the form, they can click on the Coaches tab to meet their coaches and begin communicating one-on-one. They also can click on the Library tab to view and read the articles, recipes, videos and other resources updated there weekly.

How can you get your members started? That’s another great question. Why not start by seeing the app for yourself through a free demo and consultation? Schedule one today and get your members moving toward a healthier future.

You can also learn more coaching strategies Yes Health uses in our free eBook: “Digital Health: 3 Ways Yes Health Engages Health Plan Members.” Download it here.