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Xenonex advice for Overcoming Common Coaching Challenges

As an experienced team of coaches we have come across a wide range of issues and challenges over the years.   When helping managers to embed coaching within their organisation our own experience means we are very aware of the challenges they face and work with them to help overcome them.


This edited article by US author Amy Gallo gives some ideas of how coaches can get the best from their coachees and coaching sessions.  I'm sure you have other ideas and methods that work for you.  Please feel free to share them with us.

Great managers strive to do right by their employees — treat them well, motivate them to succeed, and provide the support and coaching each person needs. This is often easier said than done, especially when it comes to coaching. That’s because coaching takes time, skill, and careful planning. And there are certain types of people who may be particularly challenging for managers to coach.

As with most interpersonal difficulties at work, the first step is to take a look at yourself.

1. Assume change is possible. If you go into any coaching situation presuming that people are who they are, you’re setting yourself and your coachee up for failure. Ask yourself whether you’re going into the context with a preconception that is fundamentally undermining what you are trying to do. If so, try the next few steps.

2. Take an alternative view. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about the person you need to coach it’s difficult to show compassion or curiosity. A critical tool of an effective coach is to be able to take a different perspective. Instead of thinking, “This person is…” try “One view of the person is that he can be quite negative. What are other options?” Think about the other people he works with. Is there someone who doesn’t seem to share your view and genuinely enjoys working with him? Try to put yourself in that colleague’s shoes. Look for disconfirming evidence or instances when your direct report does the opposite of what you expect — taking a positive or neutral stance, for example.

3. Manage your emotions. When you sit down with your coachee, you bring all of your emotions and stresses with you. You might be feeling afraid, frustrated, or anxious. Perhaps you’re worrying that if you don’t help this person change, you won’t be seen as an effective leader. All of these uncomfortable emotions are normal—don’t try to ignore or repress them. It’s far better to spend time recognising how you feel before you go into the session. Not only will this make you feel better, it will also help the coaching process. The key is to think about what you’re trying to achieve. Then, when your objective is clear, match the mood to the task.


Coaching is meant to be about positive change.  Of course, you will run into tricky circumstances, but remember that worrying or focusing on those challenges won’t move you, or your direct report, forward. Make room for the change you want to see.

Xenonex has extensive experience in developing and embedding coaching within organisations.

We also offer a full suite of ILM programmes and as an approved ILM Centre have been recognised for the quality and standard of our training in the National ILM Hall of Fame.

We are currently recruiting for our ILM 5 and 7 coaching programmes starting in Leeds in January 2016.

To find out more contact Jo Watson, Business Development Manager on 01423 876371 or email jo.watson@xenonex.co.uk

Suzanna Prout