4 Challenges That Stop Us From Coaching Our Employees – And How to Overcome Them

August 13, 2018

The Biggest Reasons Managers Don’t Coach Their Employees – And How to Overcome Them

Coaching employees is similar to exercise.

There is copious research that coaching employees is the best way long-term to improve their skills; much like there is copious research that exercising is good for you. And yet, just like many of us don’t exercise three times a week, many managers don't coach their employees regularly.


In her LinkedIn Learning course Coaching Skills for Leaders and Managers, LinkedIn Learning Instructor Sara Canady said there are four common obstacles that prevent managers from coaching their employees. And then she gave strategies for overcoming them.

LinkedIn Learning Instructor Sara Canaday explains how to overcome the biggest coaching obstacles.

The 4 Most Common Obstacles That Prevent Managers From Coaching Their Employees – And Strategies for Overcoming Them

According to Canaday, the four biggest reasons there isn’t more coaching going on are:

    1. There’s not enough time.

The most common reason cited by managers on why they don’t coach their employees – they don’t have enough time.

How to overcome it: It’s easy to say make the time. But, let’s be real: if you have a crazy amount of direct reports or the workload is overwhelming, it is really hard to make the time to coach employees.

Here’s the argument for why you should make time for it. First off, coaching has massive long-term benefits. It might take more time upfront to coach an employee, but that employee will upskill much faster and ultimately become easier to manage.

A few ways to make coaching fit easier into your day is to start coaching those who are most eager to be coached and to coach employees in conversations you are already having with them. Once you see the results, it’ll motivate you to spend more time coaching all your employees.

    2. You don’t know how to coach.

Many managers don’t know how to coach effectively. It doesn’t make sense to coach if you don’t know how, right?

How to overcome it: Well, as you probably guessed, the solution here is to learn how to coach. There are a few ways to do this.

Hopefully, your company offers some training on the subject. Or, you can ask managers you admire for help.

Of course, I’d be chagrin to admit that you can also learn how to coach by watching online courses on LinkedIn Learning. And, you can watch the videos on your own time, around your own schedule (okay, end of pitch, I promise).

    3. It’s frankly hard to do, with so many other things occupying your mind.

Being a good coach isn’t easy. It’s particularly difficult to calm your mind during a coaching session and not jump in with solutions – especially when there are 1,000 other things on your mind.

How to overcome it: This comes down to discipline and focus. If you are going to invest the time to coach your employees, you need to make that time worth it.

And that means being present and engaged during coaching sessions.

Coaching can have extraordinary benefits – if done well. If you’ve made time for it and learned how, take the last step and make each coaching session a great one.

    4. The employee doesn’t want to be coached.

Arguably the most frustrating on the list. Here, you’ve made time for the coaching session, learned how and are fully present.

And yet the employee isn’t the least bit grateful. Instead, they actively resist the coaching, or just show no interest in getting better.

How to overcome it: First off, go into each coaching session with a positive attitude. If you go in believing the employee won't take to the coaching, you'll probably be right.

Also, do your best to suspend judgement. Yes, you might have heard bad things about the employee or even witnessed them yourself. Do your best to push that out of your mind during the coaching session and understand their point-of-view.

Nearly everyone can be coached – some just make it a lot harder than others. Do your best to go in without judgement and actively listen, and you’ll eventually be able to connect with the person and help them develop their skills.

Want to learn how to be a great coach? These LinkedIn Learning courses can help: