10 Coachable Situations


When I hear managers talking about coaching their staff, they are often speaking of coaching them to improve their performance, and usually at an annual performance review. What if you considered coaching as a tool that you can use at any time, and not only when your employees are not performing, but also when they are doing great work? Coaching allows you to extend your influence all year long, in many situations, at any time. It requires you to pay attention to situations that are appropriate for coaching.

How will you recognize those coachable situations? Here are a few:

1.     When someone is struggling: Help them out by coaching them. Asking them questions that will help them to figure out (on their own) how to ease the struggle is the right thing to do.

2.     When someone’s performance is not what you know it to be: Good performers sometimes fall on tough times. Coach them to get back to their usual stellar performance.

3.     When someone’s performance is amazing: Make sure they know what they did well. Ask them what they think made their performance noteworthy (so they can recognize what the cause of their success is and repeat it). Don’t forget to express your gratitude for a job well done.

4.     When you notice unsavory behavioral habits: Is someone on your staff too overbearing? Too timid? Coach them to change their behaviors to ones that will help them to become more effective.

5.     When old ineffective habits have become new productive habits: Tell them what you’ve noticed and how much you appreciate their hard work to break the old ways of doing things. Ask them how they can sustain the new habits, and coach them to do so.

6.     When someone needs to stand up and lead: Do you have someone on your staff that could be more of a leader? Coach them on the changes they need to make to get there and congratulate them on the positive steps they take.

7.     When someone needs to let others lead: Do you have someone on your team who is overly dominating? Are they preventing others from taking the lead? Coach them to pull back on their dominance.

8.     When someone wants to try something new: Is there a new project that needs to be completed and you have a staff member ready to dig in? Sit down together to create a plan for success. Then meet with them on a regular basis to let them talk about the project until the individual feels confident that they can complete it successfully.

9.     When someone new comes onto your team: The “sink or swim” philosophy isn’t always the best. Meet with your new charges on a regular basis to coach them to understand the organizational culture and top priorities of the position.

10.  When someone is ready to move up: Is someone on your team ready for a promotion, either within your organization or elsewhere? Coach them to learn the skills they’ll need at the next level, and assist them to become ready.

What other coachable situations have you experienced?

A recent post that can help you to understand the importance of coaching to give the monkey back can be found here.

A post about the mindset you need to adopt to coach well can be found here.


I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

4 comments on “10 Coachable Situations

  1. Mary
    I agree with some of these examples but others I’m less convinced about.
    Coaching is about moving forward, some of these are better suited to ‘feedback’ which is a different skill.
    I would agree that a good coach might combine these skills and use the example you give at 3 to provide positive feedback. But I don’t see that it lends itself specifically to coaching and I am qualified and experianced coaching.
    I’m happy to be convinced otherwise!

  2. Hi Chris,

    I guess we’ll agree to disagree. If you consider that coaching helps people to dig deeper, its important for a leader-coach to help their employees to understand what they did well and what they can do better – and that takes coaching. Therefore, I believe every one of the 10 situations can use that.

  3. Mary Jo,

    What I love about this list is that it sets up all the ways management “coaching” is important to career development. Unfortunately, so many managers lack this skill..arguably one of the most valued by employees: http://wp.me/p1irwj-hf

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