Coaching Uncoachable People

Okay, so let’s get this out of the way up front. I know “Uncoachable” is not actually a word. I know this because the people at Apple say so. The spell check on my iPad says so and “uncoachable” is underlined in red throughout pages as I write this post. But I’ve told the iPad to “learn” that word and the red lines are gone. So we are now good to go. Just so you know. 

I have had the pleasure of coaching a whole lot of people through the years. At all levels of organizations. It’s very gratifying when someone tells me I’ve made a difference for them, in many ways that’s more valuable to me than a paycheck. 

But every now and then I come across someone who seems uncoachable. It’s not that they necessarily resist coaching. It’s more like they are immune to it. They don’t appear to hear it, they never respond to it. They most certainly don’t make any changes as a result of it. They are pleasant in their interactions and offer no resistance to the coaching. They offer no reaction at all. Almost as if the coaching never happened. It is very weird. 

While coaching individuals who are deemed “uncoachable” is indeed challenging, it’s not an impossible task. Here are some strategies that I’ve used through the years that might help you effectively coach people who seem uncoachable.

  • Building a strong relationship with the person you are coaching is essential. Take the time to understand their perspective, empathize with their challenges, and establish trust. Show genuine interest in their growth and well-being.
  • Uncoachable people often resist coaching because they fail to see the value or relevance of the process. Help them uncover their underlying motivations and goals. Understand what drives them and how coaching can align with their aspirations.
  • Instead of solely highlighting weaknesses or areas for improvement, emphasize their strengths. By acknowledging their existing capabilities and successes, you can help boost their confidence and create a more positive coaching environment.
  • Tailor your communication style to the individual’s preferences. Some people respond better to direct and assertive communication. Others may prefer a more empathetic and supportive approach. Adapt your coaching techniques accordingly to resonate with their needs.
  • Establish clear objectives and expectations for the coaching process. Make sure the individual understands what they are expected to achieve and the timeline involved. Break down larger goals into smaller, manageable steps to make progress more tangible.
  • When giving feedback, focus on specific behaviors or actions rather than generalizations. Frame feedback in a constructive manner and offer suggestions for improvement. Encourage self-reflection and accountability.
  • Help broaden their perspective by presenting alternative viewpoints or examples from your own experiences. Encourage critical thinking and open-mindedness. Sometimes, people may resist coaching because they have fixed ideas or limited perspectives.
  • If traditional coaching methods are not effective, explore alternative approaches. Adjust your coaching techniques to cater to their unique learning style and preferences. Some individuals may respond better to experiential activities, while others may benefit from visual aids or case studies.
  • Coaching “uncoachable” people will require patience and persistence. Change takes time, and setbacks are common. Maintain a positive attitude, stay committed, and celebrate even small victories along the way. Keep encouraging them to embrace the coaching process.
  • In some cases, it may be beneficial to involve a third party, such as a mediator to facilitate the coaching process. They can provide additional insights, offer guidance, or address any underlying issues that may be hindering progress.

Remember that coaching uncoachable individuals may not always yield immediate results. It requires perseverance, adaptability, and a genuine desire to support their growth. But remember this as well, helping another person improve their life is ALWAYS worth the effort. 

Want more of LeadToday? I’ve changed things up on my Twitter feed for subscribers. I recently began publishing two or three videos each week focusing on an element of Authentic Leadership. I’ll post these videos each Tuesday and Thursday morning. Sometimes a bonus video pops up at other times during the week. They will be about 10 minutes long so we can get into the topic in a more meaningful way. The investment for subscribers in still only $4.99 a month. That’s for at least 80 MINUTES of quality video content on leadership a month. 

If you’re interested in taking a look, head on over to my Twitter profile page. If you’re not a follower yet just hit the follow button. It will change to a subscribe button and once you hit that you’re on your way. You can cancel at any time you’ve decided you have nothing left to learn about leading the people who you count on for your success. 

Here’s the link to my Twitter… 

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