4 Ways to Coach the Uncoachable Employee
As you have progressed through your career, you may have invariably met coworkers, or managed some, who display some of the following traits, “lack desire for accountability, are inherently lazy, are extremely sensitive, do not take direction well, have no interest in upward mobility and repeatedly fail coaching efforts.” If you haven’t, should you ask yourself if you have ever displayed these traits? Although most of the time the root cause is being in the wrong job, sometimes people just need the right coaching to bring out their best results for the company. Entrepreneur contributor Richard Trevino II gives 4 tips on how to coach the uncoachable employee.
You have to truly care – Managers must ensure employees that their leaders genuinely care for them. Employees are not coachable if they don’t trust their coaches/leaders. According to Harvard Business Review, the importance of trust and genuine care go a long way. They said: “Employees who are less trusted by their manager exert less effort, are less productive and are more likely to leave the organization. Employees who do feel trusted are higher performers and exert extra effort, going above and beyond role expectations.”
Manage behaviors, not people – To effectively influence change, leaders must ensure that they focus on poor work behaviors instead of people, and target corrective behaviors. For instance, if an employee’s dislike for another employee affects their performance, leaders can use it as a motivation driver; divert the employees’ focus on others by challenging that individual to focus on their own work to get better results and show that they’re the best employee by comparison. With the behaviors that cause them to perform and/or act negatively clearly identified, leaders can coach employees toward specific improvement.
Help them plan to succeed – Performance improvements require ample time because behavior doesn’t change overnight. People fear and resist change, especially when sudden and abrupt. Establish a plan of action that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reasonable and Time-bound (SMART) with the employee’s cooperation. For instance, with employees who don’t believe they need help, leaders must ask how the employee wants to improve. This gives employees control over their careers; it also shows that their leaders trust their opinions, which lessens the fear of and resistance to change. The SMART plan ensures the changes are gradual, and leaders and employees can easily track the progress of these changes and adjust the plan as needed.
Find their most valuable skill set – When plans don’t work, leaders managers must accept the idea that more aggressive actions are necessary and a change is needed. Options include redistributing the employee or promoting moving the individual to the right career path. However, leaders must emphasize that these actions are not because something is wrong with the employee. Instead, highlight the employee’s interests and goals. For example, to coach employees who are a bad fit for the job, managers must assess why they’re in the wrong job. Often, the employee’s interests and goals don’t match their current job duties; they can be redistributed or assigned to jobs that match their interests, goals, and skills. Unfortunately, if employees’ goals aren’t aligned with the company’s goals, the employees will never be happy; it’s best to coach them toward more compatible companies.
Even great coaching is no guarantee that an employee will stay or turn it around, and that’s not your failure if you are their coach. Even the most well-intended and genuine efforts fail in the face of insurmountable dissatisfaction, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to move on. As Trevino says “The best coaches are those that have employees’ best interests at heart while keeping the company’s needs in mind.”