I am sad to say that I had no trouble in finding barriers to coaching when I researched this topic. Here’s my top 10:
- The organisation’s culture is in conflict with coaching principles
- There are always other priorities
- Managers are uncomfortable in the coaching role
- Management resist being coached themselves
- There are too few role models
- Increased workloads make finding time for coaching difficult
- Short term focus
- Performance related rewards promote performance but not learning or enjoyment
- People selected as coaches are unsuitable
- perception that coaching was being used to rectify poor performance (in a punitive way)
Rather than tackle these one by one let’s look at some general principles that you might use to overcome these barriers
Coaches need time. There is no doubt that coaching requires an investment of time, but hopefully we can now make a convincing case that the return on investment is there. If we need to build in a little slack to accommodate coaching, it’s well worth the effort and expense.
Coaches need good role models. Many mangers are expected to be good coaches simply because they are managers, but this is unfair. Few managers have had any meaningful training in coaching skills and fewer still have ever been properly coached so they may simply not understand what is expected of them.
Coaches need positive rewards. Put simply what gets rewarded usually gets done. If we want managers to coach we must reward them for doing so with praise and recognition and even bonuses if appropriate. Similarly, behaviour which is ‘anti-coaching’ needs to be publicly frowned upon.
Coaches need coaching. Which includes feedback and guidance from their own bosses and wherever possible feedback from the people whom they coach too. It is also useful for those that have been trained as coaches to ‘buddy up’ and support each other.
Coaches need to be promoted. Those who are good at coaching should be promoted where it’s warranted and other candidates turned away if they have not properly developed and coached their staff.
Coaches need to be carefully selected. High flyers do not always have an interest in developing other people and often view weakness in others as a fault rather than a development opportunity. They do not always make good coaches even when given the right training and encouragement. We need to carefully define the attributes of high performing coaches and select coaches on that basis.
Coaches need not be managers. I have often found that sometimes it is staff found relatively low down on the structure chart that make the best coaches. There is no logical reason for coaching to be undertaken only by line managers.
Coaching needs to be integrated. For coaching really to become the norm rather than the exception, the entire organisational culture must reflect its importance and value. This means that job descriptions should be revised to include coaching, competency frameworks updated to include coaching and appraisal forms amended to review and evaluate coaching activity.