“I can’t see how coaching will benefit me.  Things are fine, just a small  hiccup, is all. I don’t have the time to be talking with you. I’m only here because they insist. What do you want from me?”

Ouch. These words from a recent client are not music to any coach (or manager or leaders) ears. How to proceed?  With calm caution.

Here is the first fundamental of coaching; that people are more likely to take action toward change when they choose to do so.  Consider the self-determination theory which introduces a continuum from “controlled behaviour” (taking action because you have to”) and autonomous behaviour (doing something because it is one’s choice).  Now the coach might take a confrontational approach to this individuals need for change, setting themselves up as the expert with the prescription. Even if the coachee agrees to participate and does change, she or he may do so under pressure and feelings of coercion.  On the other hand, the  coachee who operates within a framework of autonomy believes that he or she has personal control and that initiating, performing and maintaining behaviour change is an internal matter.  The individual has identified the value of coaching and chooses to become involved in the partnership.

Coachees who are referred for coaching are initially sceptical and uncommitted. Coaches, whether in external or internal roles, need to increase the coachees level of autonomy, and, therefore, motivation.

Here are some questions presented as discussion points that may sway the situation;

  • What are the gaps between where your business unit is now and where it wants to be?
  • What are the advantages of coaching and changing?
  • What are the disadvantages of coaching and change?
  • Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?

After considering these questions and engaging in dialogue with the coach, the coachee may decide that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.  Because the coachee has made his or her own decision about this, he or she can move further along the autonomy dimension and improve the probability of long-term success.