Coaching challenges – whether you are a new coach or seasoned, we all run into sticky situations now and then. This month I am focusing on a couple of the common challenges that coaches face and provide some practical tips for overcoming them.
Challenge #1: Overcoming misconceptions about what coaching is.
Although coaching is not new, and much progress has been made in educating people about coaching, there are still those who are unaware or have misconceptions. One misconception about coaching that persists is that it is for people who have a performance problem. If a potential coachee holds that view and coaching is suggested, you are likely to face someone who is ready to put up their defenses. You may also run into people who are unaware of what coaching is or those who confuse it with mentoring or consulting. If you face any of these challenges, you must do some educating before any real coaching work can begin.
Before starting with a new client or attempting to sell coaching services to an organization, make sure you know what their understanding and view of coaching is. A good way to think of coaching and to put it into language that others can easily grasp is to position coaching as a tool to unleash human potential, increase motivation and sustain high performance. Who doesn’t want that?
Use your questioning and listening skills to learn what the client thinks coaching is. Do they understand the difference between coaching, mentoring, consulting? Do they have a positive, neutral or negative impression of coaching? If you need ideas for new questions or new ways to ask a question as you work through this challenge, you may find our 365 Coaching Questions Booklet helpful.
Make sure you understand what your potential client / coachee goals and objectives are, and that coaching is the right tool. Coaching is a powerful tool, but it is not the answer to every problem in every situation. You must be able to recognize when coaching is not the best fit and be willing to pass on the opportunity when it is not the best tool to use in a given situation. It is much worse to try to force coaching into a situation where it doesn’t belong. For example, if someone isn’t ready to be coached or is looking for someone else to provide solutions to their problems. In these situations, consulting or mentoring may be more appropriate. As we all know, coaches help people develop their own solutions, not tell them what to do.
Challenge #2: Your coachee is not willing to commit / follow-through to action.
This is a challenge both new and seasoned coaches face. You think things are going along well. You are having good coaching sessions, the coachee seems engaged and motivated. You’ve worked out an action plan and feel good about the progress being made. Then, you are caught off guard to discover your coachee has not followed through on the agreed to action plan. Maybe the first time it happens you are not too concerned. You use your questioning skills to understand the reason for lack of follow-through. You and your coachee do a reset of the goals and continue. But then, when the coachee fails to follow through multiple times, you’ve got a real challenge on your hands. Successful coaching is about unleashing potential, helping someone to change and be accountable for his/her future. After you have guided your coachee to an appropriate solution, if he/she is unwilling to be accountable for making it happen you can try a few strategies.
If your coachee is not following through on commitments, it could be that the goals created are not the right ones. A good first step is to do some exploration with your coachee to understand if the goal is the right one, and if not adjust.
You can be assured that there is a roadblock to be uncovered if your coachee’s lack of follow-through behavior is on-going. It may be worth doing a rewind and diving deeper. Our Personal Groundwork for Coaching Assessment™ and accompanying Personal Groundwork for Coaching™ Workbook is a great tool for doing this. It allows coaches to highlight and explore areas that are often at the source of where a coachee becomes stuck, self-defeating or demotivated. Coaches use this tool to uncover the deeper source of what gets in their coachee’s way when moving toward bigger and broader goals. This tool can help you and your coachee uncover what is at the root of their lack of follow-through.
Establishing or, if necessary, revising the coaching contract can be helpful in addressing this challenge. The contract clearly states the roles, responsibilities and expectations. Perhaps the coachee was eager to please and agreed to the contract before really understanding and embracing the process.
Another option is to nudge him/her into making a commitment and exploring his/her level of commitment using a Likert scale question, i.e. “On a scale of 1-10, how committed are you to making this happen?”
If the above strategies and tactics fail to produce the desired result, a last option is to discontinue coaching him/her. None of us want to get to this point but, in some cases, this may be the best option for coach and coachee. If you do get to this point, be sure to use it as a learning experience.
We are here to support you when it comes to coaching challenges. We offer webinars, coaching guides and courses. View our resources here. If you have questions, connect with our Program Advisor.