Exploring coachability

When is an employee ready, willing and able for coaching?

Martin A, Carter A, Blackman A, Sinclair A |   | Institute for Employment Studies  | Jan 2020

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This paper is the fourth in the Coaching Effectiveness Series to explore aspects of business coaching. The series was conceived to generate and reflect on evidence of effectiveness from the perspective of employees and leaders as coachees. This focus on the coachee differentiates it from most other coaching effectiveness research, which has tended to focus on the coach (eg Watling & LaDonna, 2019), what the organisational sponsor/line manager does (eg Blanton & Wasylyshyn, 2018) and the relationship between the coach and coachee (eg Ianiro et al, 2015). Little attention has been given to individual coachees (Carter et al, 2017).

Our previous papers in the series were produced in conjunction with IES’ research partners at James Cook University in Australia and cover factors that coachees say make business coaching effective and should be included in the coaching process, barriers faced by coachees during the period of their coaching, which may have derailed or lessened the achievement of successful outcomes and how organisations might remove or minimise these and what employees want from their coach.

This paper considers key coachee characteristics, concepts and findings from the literature that sheds light on the factors which make someone ‘coachable’ and thereby make best use of the organisation’s investment in providing coaching for them. The paper also offers some practical advice to organisations on improving the readiness of their staff and leaders to take part in coaching as a coachee.

The paper is written primarily for coaches, HR professionals and coach trainers. In addition, it may be useful for academics and practitioner-researchers in pointing to potential areas of further research.

We explored three questions:

■       What do coaches believe makes individuals ready and able to make the most of coaching at work?

■       What do employees and leaders believe makes a difference in terms of the success of the coaching they receive?

■       Do the answers to these questions have implications for the way coaching is delivered within organisations?