As a manager, you probably provide some level of coaching to all your direct reports.  You may be helping some to attain higher levels of performance, others to take on greater responsibilities and coach one or two to develop their careers. While every manager should have the capability to coach, managers also need to have the ability to discern when coaching isn’t working, or even if their team member is un coachable.

When a team member isn’t responding despite your best efforts to coach them, it is important to consider whether that person is actually coachable. For someone to be coachable they need to demonstrate two things, first a commitment to their development and second the capacity to achieve the level of skill or performance you need.

If you have a team member who you coach but doesn’t improve think about whether it might be a commitment or a capability issue.

To check their commitment ask yourself the following questions.

Are they coming to review meetings fully prepared?
Do they show initiative and take the lead?
Do they complete their actions on time?

Do they listen to and accept your feedback?

If the answer is no to the above explore with them what is going on.  Explain to them what you have observed, your concerns and try to uncover what is causing their apparent lack of motivation and commitment to their development.

However, if your team member’s enthusiasm is high but they don’t appear to be making progress in the area you need them to it might be because they don’t have the capability.  But before you throw in the towel discuss with them your observations. Explain that you can see that they are trying their best but very little progress is being made.  Explore with them whether the initial expectations set were too high or unrealistic and whether taking a different approach to their development might enable them to learn the skills needed. Consider other ways to help them improve.  For example, should they attend an external training course, go on a secondment or get support from an experienced colleague instead of from you.

Finally it’s important to recognise that some people are un coachable, particularly if they have no interest in changing or fail to take personal responsibility for their lack of performance.  As a manager you have to decide how much time and emotional effort you are willing to put in to help them.  After all you have other team members to support too.  If you want to improve the coaching skills of managers in your organisation, then our in house Coaching Your Team to Drive Performance Course with the option of follow up coaching surgeries to embed the learning is a great place to start.