Can Managers Coach Unwilling Employees?
More and more coaching is seen as essential to manage change and develop teams and organisations. It is deemed necessary for managers to be skilled and proficient as coaches if they want to be effective. The manager as coach is however often confronted with what is called an unwilling employee for coaching. It is widely accepted that unwillingness on the part of the employee is a deal breaker. I would like to contend that too often the blame for unsuccessful coaching is placed on the employee.
What is seen as resistance on the part of the employee is actually the employee telling us that the coaching does not fit the need of the employee. Managers would do well to consider this.
Managers who want to be coaches of their teams need to have some basic coaching skills. They need to consistently make use of a coaching approach of their choice. Approaches that collaborate with teams and co-construct what is wanted and needed are much more successful than approaches that tell and boss people what to do.
In coaching employees it should be remembered that the alliance between the manager and the employees is of the greatest importance. Research has shown that it is the alliance that accounts for almost 80% of the effectiveness of the coaching. There is nothing as important as the good relationship between the manager and the employees.
Employees need to know that their expertise is valued by the manager. This means that the manager should focus on the competencies and strengths of the employees. It also means that the manager should listen carefully to the views of employees and should regularly give positive feedback. In a collaborative and positive workplace where employees know they are valued and respected one would very rarely find unwillingness to be coached.
The focus should also be on solutions and not problems. To focus on problems lead most of the time to blaming people especially when problems are analyzed. In a workplace culture where people are consciously blamed or unconsciously experience they might be blamed coaching is not received well. Besides, there is no link of necessity between the causes of a problem and the solution needed. Knowing more about the causes only tells us more about the problem. Focusing on solutions instead of problems, on what is wanted and needed creates a collaborative working environment.
To be a successful coach, managers would do well if they do not call it coaching but make coaching part of their overall style as managers. When coaching is only considered when there is a problem or performance gap employees will experience it as a threat. When coaching includes good performance and focus on repeating what works well it becomes that much easier to address problems.