5 Ways to Defuse Resistance When Coaching Top Performers

Do not be a manager that allows top performers to not be coached.

Are your top performers giving you the cold shoulder when it comes to coaching? If your sales leaders are requesting not to be coached, don’t make the mistake of obliging them. Use these 5 methods to overcome their resistance.

8-Steps to Creating a Coaching Culture by Keith Rosen
When I ask managers how coaching has been received amongst their team and whether or not everyone on their team is being coached by them consistently, here’s one response that I have heard countless times from managers in practically every industry and profession.
[blockquote sign=”Sales Managers Everywhere”]”My top performers tell me they don’t want to be coached.”[/blockquote]
These managers tell me how they continually run into a certain degree of resistance from some of their top producers around being coached. As a result, many managers make the costly decision to simply not coach their top people.

Conversely, other managers attempt to force or sanction coaching upon them. I can guarantee you, both of these solutions will wind up doing more damage than good. Instead, start by getting to the source of where their resistance is coming from.

When enrolling a resistant top performer in coaching, it may sound a little different than when you’re enrolling a mid performer or underperformer, especially if the manager has positioned coaching as “Remedial Only.” That is, those who are not performing get coached and as such, they make coaching conditional (when there’s a problem) rather than positioning coaching as a positive benefit, such as “Everyone always gets coached, consistently because it’s a way to deliver more value to you – and you are the priority here.”

Instead, take the following approach to identify where their reluctance to being coached is coming from. Once you uncover the source, you can then address the cause of their resistance to coaching. Here are five ways to do so:

1. Find out What Coaching Means to Them:

Three of the leading causes of coaching reluctance on the side of your direct reports are:

[list_wrap list_type=”cube”]
[list_item]Their misconceptions of what coaching is.[/list_item]
[list_item]How coaching has been positioned within your organization.[/list_item]
[list_item]A possible negative past experience they had when they were being coached.[/list_item]

As a manager, it’s your responsibility to get to the source of their resistance to coaching so that you can then defuse it. Have an exploratory conversation with them one to one. Here’s an example of what that could sound like.
[blockquote sign=””]“John, I want to ensure that I’m being the best manager for you and that I’m providing you with the right support and resources you need to achieve your goals. To do this, that means becoming the best coach I can be for you. So, I’d like to talk to you about engaging in one to one coaching.”[/blockquote]

Then, follow up with questions like these:
[list_wrap list_type=”cube”]
[list_item]What does coaching mean to you?[/list_item]
[list_item]What’s your perception of coaching?” (These questions align your definitions of coaching and eliminate any negative perceptions of coaching.)[/list_item]
[list_item]What concerns if any, do you have around having me coach you? Let’s address them now so we can get through them together.[/list_item]

Here’s a tip from your coach: Don’t put them on the defensive by saying something like,
[blockquote sign=””]“Why don’t you want to schedule our coaching sessions? Everyone else on the team has scheduled their coaching calls and are engaged in the coaching.”[/blockquote]

When asking these questions, give the person time and the space to respond fully. Be silent after asking the questions. Make sure you get their full perspective on it, as well as their experience of coaching, whether from an external coach or their experience with a prior manager. Once you get their concerns out, then you have an opportunity to create a new possibility by setting up the rules of coaching, expectations of the coaching relationship and what that safe zone in coaching looks like.

2. Appeal to their Ego:

Begin a conversation by saying, “I can really use your help.” Ask them for their help and support around this coaching initiative, since the other team members look up to them as a role model and their buy in is essential for the coaching to stick within the team.

3. Uncover The Blind Spots:

Enroll them in the importance of observation, and how all great athletes have a coach on the sidelines, since it’s very difficult to self diagnose when you’re in the middle of the game. Here’s an example of some dialogue you can use.
[blockquote sign=””]“By finding one or two things that I can see which you can’t when you’re in the middle of a presentation or when you’re focused on selling, we can then tweak or refine those areas that you may not even be aware of, which will make you an overall better player and performer and keep you on top of your game.”[/blockquote]

4.Celebrate Them!

Position coaching as an opportunity for the manager and top performer to get together and celebrate them and their successes and wins. Top performers love to celebrate their success! This is a chance to recognize the value they deliver, provide desired and needed acknowledgement, reinforce their best practices that you want them to continually engage in, while also preventing the chance of alienating your top players by not giving them the attention and recognition they need and deserve, which can leave your top performers feeling as if they are not being appreciated and as a result, erode the commitment they have towards the company as they start seeking out employment opportunities elsewhere.

5.Advance their Career:

Coaching your superstars can help further their career trajectory by having them learn how to coach, (coach the coach) as well as by being coached themselves, if they want to move into management or even take on more of a senior sales position and a bigger role in supporting and coaching the other salespeople on the team.

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