Coaching: a threat or an opportunity?

Crossroad to sunset or darkness

As human beings, we are often in danger of believing that we all see the benefits of employee development, and as a result, we don’t always pay enough attention to aligning around clarity of purpose and expected benefits and outcomes.

Coaching is no different. In fact, if an employee has never experienced coaching before, then taking the time to explain why it is an investment in their development is vital in setting up the coaching programme for success. If not, there is potential for scepticism, confusion and a misalignment in the perception of the reasons for coaching, which can have an impact on whether an individual buys into the programme and ultimately the outcomes it will achieve.

It is therefore essential that any organisation looking to implement development programmes consider the mindsets of all involved.

The organisations mindset

Organisations often view coaching positively; by investing in a coach who will be wholly dedicated to helping an employee clarify and focus on achieving their goals, they are showing the employee they are committed to their development.

Organisations will often employ coaching to help individuals to:

  • Develop their strengths, enabling them to be even more successful in their role
  • Sharpen their focus on what will make the difference in achieving their goals
  • Understand how to be even stronger leaders
  • Explore how to get the best out of themselves and others
  • Overcome difficult relationships with colleagues
  • Prepare them for a promotion and career progression

Explaining the reasons for coaching and positioning the coaching journey correctly from the outset is often key to how coaching is perceived by an employee.

The employee’s mindset

Although the organisation’s intentions for coaching may be to engage, develop and strengthen the skills of an employee, the employee can at times misinterpret a coaching intervention, seeing it as a threat rather than a measure to help them develop. This can lead to a negative mindset and a reluctance to engage in the coaching journey, with thoughts such as:

  • I must be failing/doing something wrong
  • I don’t need help and how can this coach help me anyway?
  • I didn’t choose this for myself
  • I haven’t got time to spend with a coach, there are not enough hours in a day already
  • I don’t need ‘fixing’
  • I won’t be able to trust the coach as they are paid by the company so how will this help me
  • I can give this a go but I can’t see how it will help
  • I will go along with it but that is all I will do
  • Am I about to lose my job?

The importance of positioning coaching

Involving the coachee in conversations early on and helping them to see that coaching is not remedial and is in fact the opposite can be the difference between the success or failure of the programme.

To ensure the greatest outcome, organisations must focus on explaining the benefits and reasons for coaching to an employee. Coaching is all about growth and honing skills to see things in clearer ways, to provide more choices so that decision making can be even more effective, to help the employee see they are capable of even greater things than they had imagined, to build confidence, overcome obstacles and ultimately realise their full potential. Coaching should be viewed as an exciting undertaking, not as an inconvenience or threat.

The coach/coachee relationship

Throughout all walks of life, successful people, whether in the business world or sporting arena have trusted advisors, mentors and coaches who they can be confident will keep their discussion confidential and help them to be even more successful. Coaching is just like that.

Coaches will never break the trust placed in them by an employee and it’s important organisations ensure employees understand the coach/coachee relationship clearly, the reasons for coaching and the expected outcomes. By doing this, the organisation will see the greatest result from coaching and their investment.