Why Your Coaching Initiatives Are Failing


Most managers agree: Coaching helps sales professionals maximize their performance and reach their goals. But are they really doing it?

For all their good intentions, many managers are dropping the ball when it comes to coaching. It’s often a responsibility that either gets pushed aside in the midst of competing priorities and pressures, or is handled in a superficial, inconsistent or ineffective way.

Why does it matter? There are very real costs to the organization when “the coaches don’t coach,” and significant benefits when they do. Several recent studies have begun to quantify the bottom-line impact of coaching. Here are just a few of the findings that demonstrate how coaching delivers results at both an individual and organizational level:

  • 19% increase in average productivity
  • Improved employee satisfaction, engagement and retention
  • Improved employee performance and promotability
  • 4 times retention of information after training
  • 5-10 times return on investment in coaching training

Sources: Gallup, Hay Group, Harvard University, Goleman & Boyatzis, Corporate Executive Board

But putting a coaching initiative in place doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get results on par with these. We’ve found there are three primary reasons coaching initiatives fail:

  • Senior leaders aren’t engaged.
  • There’s no accountability for application.
  • It’s an isolated program, not part of a broader goal of building a culture.

And just as importantly, these failed initiatives often focus primarily on skills and behaviors without addressing the cause of behavior.

This last point is key, because our experience working with numerous organizations over the past 40 years has shown that a sales professional’s success is only 15% dependent on knowledge and technical skills. The person’s attitudes, values, beliefs, motives and achievement drive account for the lion’s share at 85%.

Likewise, although coaching skills are important, your managers’ values and genuine belief in people are what ultimately contribute to their own effectiveness as coaches. When their attitudes, values and beliefs are aligned, they will be more committed to coaching as an integral part of their job.

To make sure coaching initiatives succeed, assess the commitment of your managers, and recognize this is a development opportunity for them as well as their employees. It’s also critical to create an environment that supports coaching and invests the time in it, because it’s an investment that pays off for the individual and the business.

To learn about the 5 drivers of coaching effectiveness, download our white paper, The Players Won’t Play if the Coaches Don’t Coach.


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