Coachable or Not Coachable, that is the Question

How can you tell if someone is coachable?

The essence of a coach is the ability to change another person’s behavior. Whether or not that someone else is open to change is another story entirely. Before investing copious amounts of time and money, it is important to determine if someone is coachable in the first place.

Capable of Change

Whether or not someone is coachable is twofold; are they interested in change and will they act upon what they are being coached to do? Seems simple, but when applied to a real coaching scenario, it’s not always easy to determine if someone is truly capable of change. Take time to listen to what is being said and done before investing effort to coach someone who may not be coachable.


If you are trying to coach someone who is not receptive to being coached, forget it. Therefore, it is important to first determine if the person is truly interested in growing. Ask the following questions:

  • Are they willing to learn?
  • Do they seek feedback?
  • Do they listen to and accept constructive criticism?

Don’t rely on words alone. Beware of mixed signals. Some people are master manipulators, saying one thing, while doing another. People not really interested in being coached will display some of these behavioral red flags:

  • Blame others for their mistakes
  • Never asks for help
  • Does not try to see a situation from another viewpoint
  • Keeps doing the same thing after saying they would try something new

Observe and note these red flags to determine if they are capable of change by their actions. Make sure you aren’t being given lip service with false interest. After all, talk is cheap, actions are everything.


Next, determine if they are ready and willing to change by observing actions that show self awareness like:

  • Trying new techniques to improve performance
  • Willing to be vulnerable and transparent in front of superiors and peers
  • Acknowledging they do not have all the answers

On a final note, don’t confused a coachable person with a weak person. Being coachable shows the ability to learn and grow. Coachable people do not always seek others approval or second guess their abilities. Being coachable means being self-aware enough to know success in life comes those who seek knowledge and feedback from outside parties. In other words, they strive for improvement by “taking” advice, pure and simple.

Coach Your Team to Success

Larry Lipman of Fun Team Building will develop a customized team building day for your organization. Lean more about the individuals that work for you through team bonding games that will foster lasting motivation for success within your organization. Call Larry today at 770-333-3303.

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