How do you coach someone who’s already VERY good at what they do?

Even when you give someone time to reflect, people who are very good at what they do (and have often been in an organisation for a long time) can struggle to come up with areas to work on. This can be tough for you as a coach as it’s crucial they drive their own development. So, here are a few ideas that can help you shape your questions if you’re faced with this coaching challenge…

  • People often think too big about development – little things like developing the ability to do a 10-minute email in 8-minutes with the same quality is still improving performance
  • Help build a talent ‘pipeline’ – can they articulate what they actually did to become very good and then adapt their approach to work with others to ensure key skills are retained in the organisation?
  • Stepping up to a new role – one of the issues with someone stepping up is that they go from being very good in one role to being not so good in another (hands up if you’ve had a boss who got promoted because they were technically very good but didn’t have the skills to be a good boss!!). If promotion is a good option, find out how strongly they believe they can develop the skills they need and help them create a ‘safe’ environment to build their skills, ideally BEFORE the promotion happens so they hit the ground running
  • Go left-field for feedback – encouraging them to go wider for feedback on areas they could work on that they might not be aware of can be very useful. Customers, sporting opponents, more junior colleagues and contacts in similar organisations are all good options

Not an exhaustive list but as always something to get you thinking. I’m sure we would all agree no one is ever the finished article so don’t let them off the hook if they’re struggling for something to work on.  And this also applies to you so don’t let yourself off the hook either!!

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