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In 2017, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) conducted Global Consumer Awareness Study with a sample size of 27,134 respondents from corporations across 30 countries globally.

The study reveals that 66% of the respondents are highly or somewhat aware of coaching, in which 73% of the millennial respondents indicated that they are highly or somewhat aware of coaching; followed by 69% of Generation X respondents, and 63% of Generation Z respondents.

Though the survey results indicate that the corporations are aware of coaching, especially the younger generations, I still find that many Managers I talked with are still hesitate to coach. Some know what is coaching, some think coaching is mentoring, and many prefer the directive approach in getting things done.

Here are six common reasons why many Managers hesitate to coach their people:

1. Lack of Awareness 

Coaching is an experiential learning. When Managers don't experience coaching themselves, they lack drive and are probably not convinced how it works for others; let alone coach and develop their staff.

2. Lack of Proper Skills Training and Retention

Most Managers have somewhat attended leadership skills training courses and probably some coaching skills training too. Nevertheless, when these skills training are not followed-up and retained, the learning impact diminishes over time. Many of them would go back to the leadership approach that they personally benefited from their bosses, former bosses, and believe that is the best leadership approach for them staff. peers, and probably online learning materials. Consequently, the leadership skills are inherited and not developed properly reflecting the actual needs of employees development.

3. Lack of Time

This is the most common reason a manager tells why they hesitate to coach. Coaching is a developmental intervention. Managers today are competing against time to accomplish different types of goal and missions assigned by the company. More things to do with fewer resources. Therefore, the fastest way a staff to complete the assigned tasks is the directive way of communication; so as the staff preferred way of communication. The repercussion is, the managers have trained the staff to be a follower and not confident in making decisions independently. In short, the staff work with follow instructions mentality, can't think critically, and show poor creativity in solve problem skills.

4. Lack of Developmental Mindset

Managers are hired to solve problems. In a fast pace work environment, it is easy for the managers to think and influence their staff think functionally and operationally in their daily jobs. Over a period, the staff would deprived of higher levels of personal and professional development. Consequently, it is essential that Managers not to lose sight on helping their staff develop a higher level of skillset and mindset. The managerial role is not just manage, but to coach, develop, and grow their people.

"Coaching is unlocking a person's potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them"  ~ Timothy Gallwey

5. Lack of Support Systems

This is a common challenge why a coaching practice and culture fail to sustain in the workplace. Often, the Managers first learned about coaching skills are excited and thrilled by the impacts of coaching created to others. After the coaching course and back to office later, they soon realise it is not so easy to coach their staff because of the lack of infrastructure and support systems. Predominantly, it could their bosses have different priority, different management commitment, lack of effective guidance and support after the course, hostile work environment for coaching practise, and many more reasons that indicating the company is not ready to make coaching impactful in the workplace.

6. Lack of Senior Leadership Commitment

This is the top reason why coaching doesn’t work or sustainable in the company. Coaching starts from Senior Leadership. In the ICF Global Coaching Study 2020, the survey results reveal that limited support from Senior Leaders accounted for 50% of obstacles to building a strong coaching culture inside an organisation. When coaching is not part of the senior leadership priority and agenda, you can expect their managers put less priority to coach their staff too. Therefore, the senior leadership commitment and their presence to walk the talk is extremely important. They need to actively promote coaching by demonstrating they are coaching others in the workplace. Also, make a conscious effort to praise those who demonstrate effective coaching. In some instances, some Senior Leaders are not trained in coaching skills but expect their Managers to coach by sending them to join the coaching courses. As a result, the Managers come back and find it difficult to coach because their Senior Leaders using different coaching understanding, point of reference and coaching language in their leadership support. Therefore, there is a need for the company to ensure coaching practice starts from the top to the floor levels. Use same coaching framework and language would make coaching practice alive and sustainable in the workplace.


Coaching is a continuum human development intervention. It takes time, patient, and a focused plan to coach and unlocks someone’s potential to maximise their performance. It is a conscientious and committed effort to make coaching practice add values to the organisational development.

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About the Author

Simon is the ICF-Professional Certified Coach (PCC), Certified Trainer, Facilitator, Coach Trainer, and Food Service Specialist. He specialises in business selling, leadership development, and coaching culture building.

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