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8 Secrets for Influencing Coachability

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The relationship a leader has with their direct reports is the single biggest influence on their satisfaction (or lack thereof) at work. The importance of the manager-employee relationship cannot be overstated. Typically, leaders who have great working relationships also make for great coaches. They’re able to hold effective conversations that empower those around them to learn, grow, and develop their own skills to be successful in their career.

Yet, in a study by Gallup, they found that only 25% of employees strongly agree that their manager provides meaningful feedback to them - the type of feedback that helps them improve at work. Even worse, the same study found that only 21% of employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.

So why is this? In the day-to-day running of a team, things such as frequent communication, employee development, and one on one meetings can get lost. Jumping into “we’re doing coaching now” does not feel natural and can be seen as a “flavor of the month” initiative. Instead, setting the stage for employee coaching with small changes to move into a team culture of continuous development will encourage your team to be more coachable


How To Encourage Coachability

  1. Forge strong relationships
  2. Make time for your people
  3. Build trust
  4. Have their back
  5. Be authentic and humble
  6. Seek feedback
  7. Show confidence in them
  8. Give credit

How To Encourage Coachability


Do you struggle to provide constructive feedback as a leader? If so, this  guide should help!


Relationship Building is Key

Angela Ahrendts, Senior Vice President at Apple, a company that is known for its customer focus once said, “Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first.” When managers build personal relationships with each member of their team it can go a long way in creating a positive work environment that inspires employees to contribute their best work and creates open lines of communication where they’re comfortable to seek out input when things do not go as planned. Relationships are a linchpin to how coachable an employee will be. Get to know your people inside and outside of work by asking questions about their life, passions, and ambitions.


Make Time for Them

One of the easiest and most appreciated things a leader can do is make themself available to their people. It can be as easy as stopping your day to say hello and have small talk or communicating that your door is always open to them. It’s these small gestures that help build the foundation which then allows you to coach them as moments arise.



Build Trust with Employees

A shocking survey for Harvard Business Review revealed that 58% of employees said that they trust a stranger more than their boss. Would you take coaching and feedback from someone you do not trust or respect? It’s hard to be coachable if there isn’t a level of trust. You build trust with employees by showing that you’re accountable for what you say, being honest, and modeling the behaviors you want to see in others.


Show You Have Their Back

When things go wrong, as the leader you should shoulder the blame, rather than pass the blame off to a team member. Knowing your boss is there to support you when it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, that they’ll forgive you for your mistakes, and encourage you when times are tough is what many consider to be a great leader. When your team feels supported by you, they will be much more likely to be coached by you as they know you have their best interests at heart. 


Be Authentic and Humble

You must be real and relatable with your team. When you sense a team member is struggling, share your experience and the steps you took to overcome it. Employees often put their manager on a pedestal but showing them you were once exactly where they are, makes you seem more relatable. Not to mention, sharing some of your own missteps may just help them overcome their own challenges and improve their coachability in the future.


Seek Out Feedback

If you want your employees to be receptive to receiving feedback and coaching from you, you need to seek out feedback from them. Schedule time for one on one meetings with employees where you ask them to provide you with feedback. Ask specific questions that address your team leadership abilities and be prepared to graciously react if they provide you with criticism. If you’re going to dish it, you have to be willing to take it. In which case, take the information provided and work with your own leader to receive coaching and develop an action plan on how you will apply that feedback to improve.


Show Confidence In Them 

Surprisingly, most people do not know how good they really are. When a leader has confidence in us that we do not recognize in ourselves, it encourages us to take more risks, try new things, and be open to development from our leader as they see potential in us. Knowing someone believes in you can make all the difference when it comes to receiving coaching from them.


Give Credit

Employees want to feel appreciated and noticed for a job well done. Giving praise to an employee exposes their contributions to others beyond your team, which can help show them you want to see them succeed and that you’re invested in making sure others know. This will definitely help the next time you give feedback, as they will see you’re coming from a place of helpfulness. 


Conclusion: You Can Influence Coachability

As a leader, you can influence an employee’s willingness to learn, develop, accept and apply feedback. By taking small steps to show you’ve invested in them personally and seeing them succeed, you’ll open up the lines of communication where coaching and feedback isn’t something that happens on quarterly or annual reviews but is an integral part of the day-to-day interactions you have with your team. 

A Managers' Guide to Giving Constructive Feedback