Organizations that are unfamiliar with coaching tend to call in a coach for their most problematic employees. Often, it’s because the employee’s manager doesn’t have the time to manage the situation or isn’t sure what to do about it.
In some of these cases, it is possible that coaching can create some shift, but generally, the organization won’t find much benefit from coaching these employees.
Here’s what makes someone an excellent candidate for executive coaching:
They have true potential
The absolute best candidates for executive coaching are the high-potential employees. They work hard, learn quickly and have the desired qualities be able to take on a pivotal role in the organization. Or, if they’re already in a pivotal role, create more impact on the organization.
Coaching is an investment and, given that most companies have limited resources, channeling those resources into employees that hold the most promise to ultimately bring value to the company holds the greatest return on investment.
They’re motivated to grow
No matter how great the executive coach is, if the employee isn’t motivated to grow, coaching simply won’t work.
I recently worked with a new mid-level manager who had been told by her manager that she was a prime candidate for a senior level position, but wouldn’t be able to get there until certain behaviors changed. In my first meeting with this manager, she said “I’m really excited to work with you—I want this so badly.” And sure enough, she was self-reflective in sessions, diligent about her homework between sessions and within weeks, her manager messaged me to tell me that this person was “a whole new leader.” It wasn’t long before she got her promotion.
When you assure an employee that you believe in their potential, want to see them succeed and are giving them the resources to do so, you create an ideal scenario for coaching success.
They’re open to feedback
I was once brought in to work with a senior level leader who was, in the words of his manager, “impossible.” His staff had been complaining about him for countless reasons and whenever his manager tried to offer feedback, the employee vehemently defended himself—often shouting loud enough that almost everyone sitting within twenty feet knew what was going on, despite the closed door.
After countless attempted conversations with this leader, his manager told him in frustration that unless he changed, there wouldn’t be a place for him at the company. He was put on a performance improvement plan and told he would be working with a coach.
Ostensibly, that should have motivated him to want to work with me—jobs are hard to find these days, and no one likes to be on a performance improvement plan. Instead, he spent our initial (and only) discussion trying to prove to me that he’d been wronged and wound up leaving the company on his own within a few weeks.
This is an extreme example, but employees that aren’t open to feedback and are either defensive or silent during coaching session, will most likely walk out of the session and return to their old habits. One of the most essential elements of coaching is the employee’s willingness to hear feedback and then work with the coach on constructive ways to use that feedback for improvement. Employees that are resistant to feedback and refuse to step out of the role of victim will never change.
So if you want the dollars you allocate to coaching to work for you, consider your candidate closely and make sure to choose employees that are open, motivated and ready to fully engage in the process. If you do, you’ll likely see impressive results.
If you are interested in hiring an executive or leadership coach for your high-potential employee, Mainsail can help connect you with the best coaches to fit your specific needs. Fill out a request here and we will be in touch to get you started!