Coaching for your employees: Who will benefit and when to say no

Are you about to spend your organization’s resources on coaching? Before you take the plunge, ask yourself if the commitment of time and money is worth it to you and your employee.

Delve executive coaching experts Tim Lavery and Cammela Teel identify the types of employees who will get the most out of coaching. They say to look for employees who:

✔️ Take initiative in getting a coach
✔️ Are at the right time in their career
✔️ Demonstrate self-awareness and openness

Seems simple enough… but what does this look like in practice?

The employee engages actively in the process 

Cammela says that an important sign is who is requesting the coaching.

She says, “If your employee takes the initiative and requests help, that is a big green light. Your employee might come to you asking, ‘What is available to me to grow in my role?’ They might ask for other resources or identify that they would be interested in coaching. This level of motivation is a strong indicator that the employee would benefit from coaching.”

Tim adds, “The key to knowing if an employee would benefit from coaching is their desire to engage in the process.”   

This includes being eager to interview and select the coach and get started.  Very often, procrastination that is attributed to being “too busy” is actually a signal that there’s something about the opportunity that is making them uncomfortable. 

Cammela says, “If you have to chase an employee to do coaching, take this as a very visible sign – they are likely not a good candidate.” 

She adds, “Don’t push someone into coaching. It should be presented as an opportunity. Folks under duress show up to coaching differently. They may not be fully open and will not benefit from the investment.”

It’s the right time for the employee

Cammela and Tim both say that employees at transition points can substantially benefit from coaching

Cammela says, “When an employee is moving into a new role that requires new skills – for example moving from tactical to strategic or a shift in responsibility – this is a good indicator.” 

Tim adds, “The best time for coaching is when you are looking forward. An employee may be on the cusp of something new, and the organization wants them to be as ready as possible.”  

He continues, “Leadership is a learned skill. Some people may have certain intuitive leadership traits, but this is a learning process for most of us.  Instead of throwing somebody into a leadership role with the assumption they are fully equipped, give them support in advance.  Don’t wait until there are problems.” 

The employee is open to learning…

Cammela calls employees who take advantage of workshops, lunchtime seminars, and other learning opportunities “frequent learners.” 

She says, “I am so excited when a ‘frequent learner’ comes to me asking about coaching. I know that they have a history of learning and will bring that attitude to the coaching process.”

Tim asks, “Is this individual looking for opportunities to grow and expand or are they closed? Is there a history of productive conversation about what needs to be done? If the desire is there, but if things are just stuck, then a coach can be a valuable partner in unsticking that progress. In this case, a coach can help an individual focus on their desired path, remove blockers, and say, ‘What can I own?’”

…And not coming from a place of fear

Tim says, “Sometimes, when employees hear their boss say, “we are getting you a coach,” the first place people go is ‘fear mode’. They may think, ‘Things are so bad that I need a coach.’”

He explains that if a coaching client is coming from a place of fear, they may try to imagine someone else’s desired outcomes, which may not be in alignment with their own. They may shut down and treat coaching as a “check-the-box” exercise, which wastes their time, the coach’s time, and the organization’s resources.

The purpose of coaching is to move people forward in their careers, not to turn around poor performance. When you discuss coaching with your employee, it is vital that you clearly frame it as a positive. 

Ready to move forward with coaching?

Before your intitiate a coaching engagement, ask yourself:

  • Do you and your employee agree there is an opportunity for growth — and that now is the right time?
  • Do you have experience with this person that suggests they will embrace coaching?
  • Are you doing this for the employee’s development or are you using this as a replacement for performance management?  If the former, proceed.  If the latter, rethink.
  • Are you ready to invest time and support in helping this person build new skills, awareness, and capabilities?

At Delve, we help organizations identify candidates for coaching, suggest groundwork to prepare your employee for the coaching experience, and provide impactful coaching that delivers results.

If you are looking for coaching for your organization, reach out.

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