An organisation asked me to to meet with a new employee they felt could benefit from coaching. They described him to me as committed, technically brilliant and ambitious. The ‘but’ being that he was struggling to build relationships across the business.
And so I met him for a chemistry meeting and after 35 minutes of getting to know each other I asked:
“How willing are you to change?”
As transformational as I know coaching to be, it is not for every person at every point in their life. The answer to this question is very telling, cos if you aren’t ready to accept that you need to change to get the results you want, then it might not be the right time for coaching.
It’s a bit like that joke, how many psychologists do you need to change a lightbulb? None, it has to want to change itself.
All jokes aside, there are times when even I’m uncoachable, usually because there is a lot going on and I’ve become inflexible
and I haven’t yet come to the realisation it is me that needs to change vs others. I can hear myself saying over and over, “something needs to change”. Yeah right it does, ME!
This is why chemistry meetings
are so important, it’s a chance for the coach to explore how coachable someone is, how willing they are to explore their resistance to getting out of their own way.
That said, sometimes it’s about finding the right coach.
Early on in my career I met a potential new coachee in a cafe. He sat as far from me as he could, I had to lean in to be able to hear him at all. He quickly told me that he had been ‘sent’ for coaching because he rubbed people up the wrong way. I leant in a little further and told him I wasn’t surprised, he was rubbing me up the wrong way and did he want to discuss it?
He leant in and said yeah.
No one had been that direct with him, or called him on his bullshit and no one had taken the time to talk about how he was rubbing them up the wrong way. He became one of my most favourite clients.
So back to the first guy and his answer.
He was very emphatic that he wasn’t scared of change and that he’d made a number of changes recently in organisation, job role and house. I reflected back that these were all external changes and what about internal ones? To his credit he admitted he wasn’t sure.
Trusting my gut I told the organisation I wasn’t the right coach for him and I got some validation in that he agreed and decided to go with another coach.
So there are two things I want you to take away from this:
If you aren’t yet ready to change yourself, it’s not the right time for coaching – the coach can’t help change someone who isn;t in the room
It’s always worth having a chemistry meeting with a coach even if you’re not feeling coachable, you never know, the fit might be spot on.