How Do I Coach My Colleague?

By Helena ZhangJul 01, 2015

coaching-peersYou are at work, and for some reason or another, you want to help your colleagues through coaching. Is there someone who you would like to coach, but who resists your help? A friend who is a high-performer and who you think could reach further? What if someone doesn’t want your help? How can you convince a hesitant colleague that your advice is worthwhile?

Your colleague may be passive, putting off your meetings or acting as if he’s open to coaching but never actually changing his behavior. Or, she might be direct, making it clear she doesn’t want your help.

First, consider whether coaching is the right approach. If you feel coaching could be helpful but your colleague is not accepting your help, the next step is to understand why. It is easy to assume the person is simply irrational or difficult. Perhaps, he doesn’t trust you well enough or feels like you don’t appreciate him.

It could also be that your colleague hasn’t had a good experience with coaching in the past. You might also see resistance if the person hasn’t bought into the process. Therefore, right from the beginning, it is important to agree on what the blind spot or development opportunity is.

It is not enough to contemplate the reasons; you also need to ask your colleague why they are hesitant. On that note, try starting your inquiries with “How” or “What”. For example, you could ask: “How can we solve this problem together?” or “What do you feel is holding you back at this moment?”  You can mention the resistant behavior you are observing so long as you do so in a non-critical way.

If you have not explained why you’re offering coaching, be explicit. Tell them what you are trying to do and why. This is especially important if you are coaching someone for the first time. Never forget that to accept coaching, the coachee needs to open up about uncomfortable topics and past events, so you need to show your colleague that you are trustworthy.

First acknowledge the person’s contributions, then emphasize confidentiality and keep your word. And make sure you stay committed throughout the coaching process. Finally, if your colleague continues to resist, don’t strong arm him. Simply accept that they do not want to be coached, and move on.