Obstacles to Great Coaching


In my experience all managers want to do right by their people - grow them, develop them and make them perform at a higher level.

The vast majority of those managers believe that coaching will really help to achieve that.

Why is it then that many procrastinate about coaching on a consistent basis? I believe there are a number of reasons, and I will talk about these shortly.

However, I would say that inconsistent coaching is a serious impediment to developing high performers. Inconsistent coaching gives the message of “You don’t think I’m worth coaching” - now there is the start of a declining relationship!

Some of the most significant impediments and obstacles to great coaching are as follows: 

Fixed mindset going in. Frequently we do not do this consciously but we do fall into the trap of having a fixed mindset about the outcome, particularly with an under performer. At the back of our mind going in is - “I have to do this, but I don’t really think that anything will change” This is the guarantee of kiss of death! We have to go in with a mindset that anything and everything is possible, and that the outcome will be positive. 

We need to manage our emotions before you kick the session off. Of course, there will be times when those thoughts enter your head - acknowledge them, and then commit to achieving the positive outcome.

Coachee is closed and negative. This may not be a permanent disposition from your coachee but it can occur from time to time. When this happens, don’t try and change it by being bright and breezy, and “we need to be positive” type of attitude. That will only make it worse.

Use your emotional intelligence and be empathetic. Note I refer to empathy, not agreement!

Try to understand why they are feeling like that - don’t dismiss it as being the “wrong attitude”!

Dig deep to find out why he/she is feeling like that. What is going on in their world that is the root cause? Just walk in their footsteps for a while and help them find a way to get back on track. But you must start from where they are - and then progress.

Inconsistent performance. You have done loads of coaching with the individual but they are not taking bold steps in terms of their progression. Their performance is inconsistent and you find it frustrating. You are not confident that you can rely on this person to perform consistently at the level you require. You are beginning to lose faith! Do we just abandon the coaching?

No, you just have to trust the process. You cannot “make” someone perform. You have to recognise that the solution to this problem resides in effective and continuous coaching. Regular coaching is the order of the day – find opportunities to engage in coaching situations as often as you possibly can. That is all you can do to turn that person into a consistent performer at the level required.

In my experience, these are the major reasons why coaching is not carried out in a consistent manner.

However, coaching is not some magic dust that you sprinkle lavishly over people and - hey presto! - you have top performers. Delivering the coaching is fulfilling your part of the deal. If they do not respond, then perhaps you have to look at other options, including moving them on.

In my view, coaching helps you lead your people to the open door - only they can step through it! 

John A Murphy

JohnMurphyInternational.com.... Winning at Business and Life


John Murphy has been running his own consultancy business, John Murphy International, for over 10 years.

You may also like:

Or read some more free business tips:

Filed under Leadership Development. Posted by The Corporate Toolbox on