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  • Writer's pictureRalph Kellogg

Talk to the Hand


Working with an employee who refuses feedback or coaching can be challenging at best and highly frustrating at worst, but there are steps you can take to address the situation effectively:


Understand the “Why’s”: Before taking any action, try to understand why the employee is refusing coaching. There could be various reasons such as lack of time, feeling threatened, not seeing the value, or personal issues. Understanding the root cause can help tailor your approach.

 

Clear is Kind: Have an open and honest conversation with the employee about the importance of coaching and the specific benefits it can bring to their professional development and career growth. Clearly outline your expectations and the consequences of refusing coaching.

 

Listen to Their Concerns: Give the employee an opportunity to express their concerns or reservations about coaching. Listen actively and empathetically to understand their perspective. Address any misconceptions or fears they may have about coaching.

 

Provide Reassurance and Support: Offer reassurance that coaching is intended to support their growth and success, not to criticize or punish them. Let them know that you are there to support them throughout the coaching process and that you have confidence in their ability to improve.

 

Offer Flexibility – Up to a Point: If the employee is resistant due to scheduling conflicts or workload concerns, explore options for making coaching sessions more flexible or accommodating to their needs. This could involve adjusting the timing or format of coaching sessions to better fit their schedule. But do not allow flexibility to be your undoing, offering time and space to get things done is great, but at some point, work must be completed, and deadlines must be met.

 

Set Clear Expectations: Clearly outline the consequences of continued refusal to participate in coaching. Let the employee know that coaching is a job requirement and that failure to comply may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

 

Follow Up Regularly: Check in with the employee regularly to monitor their progress and address any concerns or obstacles they may be facing. Offer ongoing support and encouragement to keep them motivated and engaged in the coaching process.

 

Seek HR Guidance if Necessary: If the employee continues to refuse coaching despite your efforts to address the issue, seek guidance from HR or other relevant stakeholders. They can provide additional support and guidance on how to handle the situation within the framework of company policies and procedures.

 

Consider Alternative Approaches: If traditional coaching methods are not effective, consider alternative approaches such as peer coaching, mentorship programs, or self-directed learning resources. Find a solution that works best for the employee while still meeting the objectives of coaching and development.


Ultimately, you cannot work harder than the employee – you can want success for the employee more than the employee. If you exhaust all of the coaching methods listed above, the employee may not be a good fit for the organization at which point the process must move to an exit strategy.

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