Don’t Be Afraid to Ask: The Hardest Coaching Questions Employees Face

By Jolande Koolen · January 9, 2019 · Posted in: Assessment & Coaching

For most employees, the trickiest coaching questions often come well before the starting line. In my experience, these are usually ‘what’ questions. “What can a ‘potential coach’ do for me?” and “What does ‘potential coaching’ involve?”

Understandable. Not questions most are afraid to ask, by the way, and you’ll find some answers here. The more challenging and uncomfortable questions often tend to be ‘how’ questions, on the other hand, and crop up once the benefits are already clear. Over time, I’ve realized that the questions most people struggle with are: “How can I ask for coaching?” and “How much does it cost?”

Yep, these are often inextricably linked. If you already know you’re set on potential coaching, let’s move on to the harder questions. Let’s look at two of the top reasons that most of us hesitate to ask for coaching, how we can overcome these barriers, and strategies for successfully broaching the topic.

Barrier 1: Asking for coaching means acknowledging your weaknesses.

Here’s one of the most popular misconceptions we come across at Time to Grow Global. Individuals and executives alike often feel like ‘coaching’ is a remedy for specific problems and weaknesses in the way we’re working. It can occasionally involve this to some extent, but that’s essentially only a very small slice of what coaching aims to do.

Any company worth its salt knows that coaching is not synonymous with fixing a problem. Career coaching is a proactive approach to understanding your strengths—then growing them strategically. It’s a proactive, not a reactive, means of enhancing your own valuable contribution. It benefits a business on a far broader level, over a far longer period, and asking your manager for coaching is a brilliant demonstration of your strategic mindset.

In fact…

We can easily make these conversations a lot more strategic in themselves. Link your request for coaching clearly with your firm’s strategy. If your company has a skills gap that you know you’d like to help them fill, make that clear. A great career coach will help you understand how best to tackle the issue most effectively—make that clear too. Got some performance management feedback you’d love to work on? Point it out, and underscore just how passionate you really are.

Barrier 2: You’re afraid to ask your company to spend money on you.

Asking for coaching shouldn’t be scary, but let’s acknowledge that it can often seem that way and move on. First, your organization already benefits from your contribution—whether it’s as a leader or as a valued team member. Your request for coaching is simply a request to increase the size and strategic value of that contribution over time, for growth.

Second, every good leader knows employee development is integral to growth. And in today’s society, great employees will typically outlast great tech by years, if not decades. Asking for the help of a coach not only shows how engaged you already are. It also shows that you’re ready to take a systematic approach to develop that potential.

So how…?

If you’re worried about asking your company to invest in you, try taking an organizational perspective. Think about how your potential coaching will benefit your team both tomorrow and over the long term. Think—but not too much—about some possible questions they may ask. Be ready to answer these with a solid understanding of how coaching will benefit you, your team, and your company as a whole.

And don’t forget…

It’s worth bearing in mind that your firm probably already has a performance management system in place. If a tight budget really is the issue, it may be appropriate in some situations to present your case as a logical next step to any ratings you’ve received. Ratings of any sort won’t have much impact if they aren’t used to drive action, and most leaders are already very familiar with that.

How to ask for coaching…and get results

As coaches, we at Time to Grow Global are very used to asking questions. Because we work with so many managers, executive leaders, and team members, we’re lucky to get perspectives from all sides. One thing I have learned for sure is that we’re all people, and another is that lots of the stress about asking for coaching is just that: stress.

If you’re considering how best to make your request, it means you’ve already answered the ‘what’ questions. You know you’re ready to take a step forward, and in recognizing that you’ve got innate abilities to develop, you’re now lots further ahead of many others. Be confident and take a little time to think through your approach. And if you have more questions, feel more than free to drop me a line directly.

Learn more about Time To Grow Global’s Potential Coaching program.

Jolande is one of Time To Grow Global’s Senior Consultants. She specializes in coaching and helps people reach their fullest potential. Join her and the rest of the team on our Time To Grow Global LinkedIn.

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