How to Coach the Un-coachable?

Recently a client of mine asked me how to help someone who doesn’t think that he/she needs coaching? Someone who’s disengaged or unwilling to accept help or learn something new?

While you might think it’s a lost cause, and the fault lies with them but it’s likely there have been several missed opportunities to getting to the bottom of why someone resists change?

You see coaching requires a special relationship and an unusual conversation in which people discover ways they can create change in their work, careers or lives. So it’s not the coaching we resist. We are simply very selective about those we will welcome into our personal life as coaching.

Getting to the bottom of why anyone who resists change, training or engagement isn’t easy – but it’s worth putting the time and effort to help them change. From my experience, I found that there are specifically three reasons that employees stonewall:

A lack of motivation – Employees are not motivated by the same things, some of them don’t know how their job fits the bigger picture or even company’s goals plus not receiving any feedback is another reason for them not to be motivated.

A lack of knowledge – Employees may lack the skills to do the job and may not understand what they are supposed to do! Also in some cases it could be a matter of pride so they don’t even ask.

A lack of trust – Employees could have a bad experience with lack of support from their supervisor or teammate or lack of faith in any decisions previously made.

To overcome these barriers, employees need to know you care about them.

Can you honestly tell your employees that you are committed to their success?

As a coach, one of the greatest achievements in the organization is to develop your people – so everyone can be successful. But, how do you reach the unapproachable? It may sound simple, but it starts with trust.

Lay a foundation of trust

Transparency with your employees is the quickest way to develop trust. Remember that coaches aren’t unbeatable. Talk to them about strengths and weaknesses, and how you can help each other to work on those.

If it seems to employees that there’s a hidden agenda and you’re not being honest, it’s going to be difficult to coach them.

For example, if your company is going through restructuring, be honest about it. Let’s say you’ve had a bad year. You don’t have to say that there will be layoffs if your team doesn’t meet its goals. But, you can tell the truth about being behind, that you have a plan for fixing it and how they play a part in turning things around.

That leads us to our next tip…

Share company goals

All of employees should know what they’re working toward – what are the company’s mission and goals? Each employee also should have his/her own goals. Let your employees know that you care about their success.

For example, you have a billing department that isn’t submitting invoices in a timely manner. This will result in a delay in receiving payments. Telling your employees how their delays result in a financial problem for the company demonstrates how their work plays into the company’s goals.

Remember: You are only as successful as your team.

Determine motivation

Sit down and have conversations with your employees to find out where their passion and inspirations lay? Some people get motivated by being intensified or getting a higher pay grade or another wants to hear words of praise for a job well done …etc.

Some tips that you might ask an unmotivated employee to find out why they’re stuck:

  • Do you need more clarification about your role?
  • Do you need more learning and development in your field?
  • Why do you think you’re stuck?

Coach and cultivate the relationship

So, we’ve built trust, we’ve shared the company’s goals and we’ve told them how their jobs play a role in the bigger picture.

Now, it’s time to keep the ball rolling through coaching and continuing to build relationships.

It’s important to stay handy and regularly refer back to their goals. Goals aren’t something you write down and forget until performance review once a year. It’s important to discuss them frequently – perhaps monthly – and determine what’s working and what’s not. And, remember to find a way to celebrate any new accomplishments.


You can’t start off by saying, “You need to be coached; I’m here to do so.” It all goes down to first developing a relationship with your employees.

It’s something that takes time and starts with trust and transparency. Ask questions, see what motivates them? Then set clear objectives to get into the progress.

What they really want to know is: Why is this important for me?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: