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How do I know if an employee is ready for coaching?

Sometimes I’m asked if a specific employee is ready for coaching - if they’ll be in the right place to utilize the coaching work fully and take advantage of the time and resources focused on their professional development. Great question!

The ideal candidate for leadership coaching...


  • is high-potential, invested in their own professional development, and willing to make professional and personal changes in order to grow

  • has the support of their manager and close colleagues such that they can take risks in their job and get supportive feedback about how it went; risks might include:

    • trying a new way of doing something

    • initiating a difficult conversation with a manager

    • working on a stretch goal that isn’t a guaranteed win

  • has developmental and work-related goals to work toward during the coaching experience; this could be as simple as an annual performance plan or a list of project goals for the year

  • might be entering a new role, preparing for a leadership position, or embarking on a large, organization-wide project


Stage of career, age, or role is not as important as the employee’s willingness to be coached, the manager’s investment in the process, and the fit between the coach and the employee. Most coaches offer a complimentary exploration session (or more than one, in my case) to determine if the fit is a good one that brings energy to both the coach and the client. Without aligned expectations, you’re likely to spend a lot of money on not much of an impact.


Finally, it’s important for the manager to know that coaching is about ‘the whole person’. It’s not only about the employee who walks into the office each morning but the caretaker who’s just dropped off their kids at school, finished a big project at home, is going through a rough time with a family member, or has faced a major loss. The confidential space of a coaching relationship means that everything’s on the table for exploration, discovery, and learning. And you can bet that when something big outside of work shifts in an employee’s life, you’ll feel it - good or bad - at the office, too.

What else comes to mind when you wonder if your teammate is ready for a coach? Reach out and let me know!  

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