Stressed senior manager: “I’ve got a member of staff who is really under-performing – can you recommend a good coach?”

Me: “NO!”


I know it might seem like a solution, but coaching shouldn’t be about addressing poor performance – in fact, the opposite. It’s about helping individuals reach their potential, and it’s meteoric growth in recent years is down to its effectiveness for both individuals and organisations.


There’s many different forms of coaching, from the informal, “water cooler” conversation, through manager coaching to more formal internal or external coaching.  Coaching as a style of management is now accepted as effective, but there is a growing trend towards formal coaching, because of the growing evidence of its worth.


It’s not the same as teaching, counselling or mentorship – the relationship between coach and coachee is an equal partnership.  Coaches don’t have answers, but help clients understand their own thinking and behaviours about a problem or issue.  It can help identify options, choices and changes that can move things forward.  


Most people would expect to have a face-to-face meeting with their coach, somewhere quiet and confidential, and sessions normally last about an hour and a half. That can be difficult to manage when things are busy – and it doesn’t come cheap. We’ve just started working with an organisation that provides telephone coaching. Half hour sessions, pre-booked online, with experienced professional coaches.


It’s not a replacement for face-to-face coaching, but will mean more busy, stretched managers will be able to access coaching – and that can only be good.



And that stressed senior manager? There are many different questions to ask – what is causing the under-performance? Is it the stressed manager’s own behaviour and expectations?  Is the person aware of the problem?  Has it been raised in performance management meetings? Coaching won’t be a solution if the person isn’t aware of the problem and/or doesn’t have a desire to change.