Barriers to coaching


Is the individual ready for coaching or mentoring?

Even if we have good forward planning and offer clear information to your staff about what is involved in the process, there can still be some individual barriers to coaching and mentoring.

These may include:

A lack of self-awareness.

Unwillingness to change.

Feeling there is no choice.

Problems with confidence.

Limited knowledge of the process.

The view that coaching/mentoring is just another 'fad'.

Unwillingness to change.

Often as a result of lack of feedback, clarity of expectation or can be related to the perception of their own ability to change to different demands (the dynamics of personal change are extensive)

What can be done?

It is important that the individual understands the expectations of the organisation and the barriers to acceptance of change are explored. This may require some specific line management intervention as well as coaching/mentoring.

360 feedback can help people recognise how they are viewed by others.

Feeling there is no choice.

Neither coaching nor mentoring will be well received if you do not give your staff an element of choice. People should be committed to the sessions for it to be successful.

What can be done?

Ideally, they should have a choice of who is their coach or mentor: it has been shown that coaching, in particular, is more successful when the staff can choose their coach.

Explore the reasons for their thinking and ensure there is clarity of the process.

Problems with confidence.

People may come to coaching and mentoring believing that are not able to develop in areas. These may have been created by previous experiences or are just beliefs that have formed with little evidence or a lack of comparison against others.

What can done?

Coaches and mentors may ‘challenge’ these beliefs as part of the process through questioning.

Establishing ‘first thoughts’ with coaches/mentees (what they think they would/could do in situations, can show their thinking to be accurate and help boost confidence.

Start with they can do, before exploring any developments.

Limited knowledge of the process.

Most people are familiar with mentoring. Anyone new to a role can be assigned a mentor to guide them and to give them advice when needed. If there is a specific skill one member of staff can offer others, they can be called upon to help and assist those who need to improve. IT skills, presentation skills, time management, knowledge of policies and procedures are all suited to mentoring.

Coaching may not be quite so familiar.

What can be done?

Ensure there is a consistent message about what coaching is and how the process will work.

Consider how the process is to be disseminated. Will it be on an individual, small group or whole organisation basis (i.e staff conference)?

The view that coaching is just another 'fad'.

Because mentoring has been used extensively, it is not considered unusual or a passing fad: most people are willing to be shown new methods or skills by a more experienced individual.

Coaching, on the other hand, is often regarded as ‘just another tool’, and there may be some scepticism on behalf of management as to its value.

Coaching as a way of communicating is not new. Socrates wrote:

‘I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.’

What can be done?

Exposure to coaching and the experience of the benefits can change this mindset.

Continuous use of the approach can help others recognise it is an established approach.

Sharing the research might help others recognise its benefits.

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