Are there any situations or scenarios that coaching isn’t useful for?

One of our thinkers submitted this great question:
“Are there any situations or scenarios that coaching isn’t useful for? I can imagine it’s good for all aspects of life, but anything it is not suitable for?”
I saw the answer to this in 2 ways
First, what isn’t suitable to bring to coaching which I covered last week. What can you work on with a coach?
Secondly when is it not suitable to coach someone:

1. In an emergency

You don’t coach people out of a burning building, you be as clear and directive as possible.
That said in a training scenario, coaching someone how to deal with common emergencies is a great idea to reinforce state dependant learning. Think pilot simulations.

2. When you’re in a rush or your mind is elsewhere

You’re more likely to ask closed questions, interrupt and have your attention divided.

3. When you’re trying to get someone to think the same as you

If you want to explore why someone thinks the way they do then the Simple Coaching Circle can help.

4. When someone doesn’t have the knowledge

If the Thinker is low on knowledge you might make them feel stupid if you ask them what they think they should do. Especially if you’re their boss.
Instead give them the knowledge they need and then you can ask coaching questions like:
  • What more do you need to know?
  • What support do you need and from whom?
  • Talk me through how you’ll approach this now?

5. When someone is displaying strong emotions

People can’t think straight when they’re in a highly emotional state, like stress, anxiety, frustration, anger or sadness. First they need to express those feelings, cry, rage (in a non-violent way), catastrophise before they are in a coachable state.

6. When they’re family or friends

Unless they have specifically asked or agreed to it, do not coach family and friends, it never goes well.

These are 6 scenarios i wouldn’t advise coaching and I’m sure there are more. What others do you want to ask about?

Cool stuff I found on the internet this week:

  1. Why leaders need to resist the urge to fix everything

A great article from Dr Chantal Thorn of Box of Crayons about when leaders should use feedback, advice or coaching.

2. This TikTok video brought to my attention by Lisa Hurley on Linkedin that explains how people who are not racist are reinforcing racism today.  Biggest takewaway: if a racist confides in you, you’re their safe space.

3. These great scripts from Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School for bosses and team members to help create psychological safety in your team

Pic of the week:

My thinking for this piece was sparked by one of you who asked the question and Kathryn Jackson of Career Balance and her book Essential Questions to GROW Your Team: A Toolkit of Coaching Conversations for Managers & Leaders. On page 12 she talks about Deciding Who to Coach which I read thanks to Amazon’s look inside feature.
Want tips to help you use a coaching approach in your inbox every Sunday?

[For image accessibility] Psychological Safety: How to say it when you’re the boss

  • This is totally new territory for us, so I’m going to need everyone’s input.
  • There are many unknowns/things are changing fast/this is complex stuff. So we will make mistakes.
  • Okay, that’s one side. Let’s hear some dissent/who’s got something to add/let’s have some give-and-take.
  • Lucy, you look concerned. Giles, you haven’t said much. Adrian, what are you hearing in the warehouse/on the phones/on the road?
  • What assumptions are we making? What else could this be/could we investigate/have we left out?
  • What are you up against? What help do you need? What’s in your way?
  • Did everything go as smoothly as you would have liked? What were the friction points? Are there systems we should retool?
  • If you’ve got something to add. just…(mention a few channels of communication, including ones suitable for difficult conversations).
  • Thank you for that clear line of sight.
  • I really appreciate your brining this to me. I’m sure it wasn’t easy.

[For image accessibility] Psychological safety: how to say it when you’re not the boss

  • Something’s been troubling me. Do you have a few minutes to talk about it?
  • Some of this is not good news. Is this an okay time to dig in?
  • We’ve got some updates we’d like to run by you.
  • I’ve hit a roadblock/I’ve got to go back to square one.
  • I mentioned the problem to the team and we’ve got some ideas.
  • I’ve made a mistake and wanted to let you know right away.
  • Our experiment didn’t go as hoped.
  • I need help figuring this out.
  • There’s been an uptick in X, and we can’t explain it yet.
  • What’s the best procedure for getting input? Who should I approach?
  • How much detail do you like to hear?
  • I need another pair of eyes on this. Do you have a minute/hour/day to look at it?
  • I don’t feel right about this. Can we pause and take a closer look?
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