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Effective Coaching, What Are The Coachee’s Responsibilities?

by David Brock on November 10th, 2010

Lots of us write about coaching, I’m in the middle of a series on coaching, but I haven’t read anything about the responsibilities of the “coachee,”  the person being coached, Since the coaching process is two way, a dialog, the person being coached has to hold up his or her end of the bargain, otherwise coaching is not effective.

The best coaching sessions I’ve been a part of, is where there has been a strong give and take on the part of both the coach and the coachee.  Many of us have been part of bad coaching sessions.  Perhaps it’s our manager commanding us–telling us what to do, not answering our questions, then leaving–probably to “coach’ one of our peers.  These hardly qualify as coaching.  Maybe it’s been the manager who just went to a class on non directive coaching, and they pummel us with questions, leaving us to ponder the path to enlightenment, but not really getting it.

Coaching requires engagement on both the part of the coach and the coachee.  So what’s this mean to the coachee?

Active listening is critical for the coachee.  Trying to understand what the coach is saying, probing and digging deeper to make sure what is being heard is what is being said.  Playing back what the coach is saying to clarify.  Asking for clarification, asking for examples are all critical for the coachee in listening.

Pushing back and challenging the coach is an important part of the coachee’s responsibilities–and an expectation coaches should have.  By pushing back, I don’t mean to be resisting, but pushing back to explore the issues more deeply, to look at alternatives, to enrich the conversation, to help clarify thinking on both the part of the coach and the coachee.  In great coaching, both the coach and the coachee learn and explore new things together.  Healthy push back and challenging creates greater results for each person involved in the process.

Commitment on the part of the coachee is critical.  The coachee must be committed to being coached and engaged in the process.  Additionally, the coachee must commit to and own whatever agreements or changes may result.  Coaching is about reinforcing good behaviors–looking at how you might do better, changing incorrect behaviors, trying new things, developing new skills.  If the coachee does nothing after being coached, then a tremendous opportunity has been lost.  Too often, I observe good coaching going on, but then people revert back to doing things the way they were before.  Coaching is not about idle conversations, but it is about accomplishing something, it’s about constantly improving performance.

What have I missed?  What other responsibilities does the coachee have to really get the greatest value and growth from coaching?

I wonder, do these responsibilities also apply to the coach?  Somehow it seems like a good idea.

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  1. You cannot change another person, they can only change themselves.
    If your “coachees” aren’t interested in improving, they won’t. If they don’t join in on the dialogue they won’t truly understand and comprehend what you are teaching.

    • Scott B-B permalink

      Very good point Daniel. Although as a coach I don’t tend to feel I can/should be teaching coachees anything – I love the Whitmore line: “It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them”

      • Thanks Scott, one might also say that a great teacher is someone who helps the student unlock their desire to learn 😉

  2. Great question, Dave.

    The most important responsibility is for the coachee to be coachable. That’s a primary competency we look for when we build hiring profiles for recruiting sales people. (By the way, coaches need to be coachable as well, or else they won’t improve as their coaching challenges and opportunities change.)

    Although salespeople can learn to be coached to a minor degree, they’re generally either coachable or they aren’t. It’s a trait.

    Coaches in a sales environment don’t have the time or often the skills to break down any barriers or defensiveness someone may have against being coached.

  3. Hi Dave

    As one who has been more coachee than coach lately, I can tell you that one of the biggest things I am responsible for is providing constant feedback. That’s because the one doing the coaching has made it clear that the only way for us to be successful is if he knows whether or not I am receiving, understanding and working with what has being offered.

    To Dan’s point, two other things I’m responsible for are buy-in and measurement. It’s important to note that buy-in is a joint concept, since it’s my coach’s job to provide the concepts in such a way that I can see clearly why they are important, but it’s up to me to incorporate them into my own work style and language with the same sense of value. If I can’t see the value, it’s hard for me to be confident and driven by the same ideas. If I don’t measure the results, it further erodes confidence. Motivation to change and commitment to a course of action is all wrapped up in how valuable I perceive the advice given to be initially, and how it proves itself out over time.

    Great topic!

    Don F Perkins

    • I really appreciate your comments Don, the perspective of the Coachee is really great. Thanks for the great insights.

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