"I Don't Have Time" and Other Excuses Managers Give for Not Coaching

Last Updated May 13, 2011 4:24 PM EDT

These days you would be hard pressed to find a leader who does not know that a large part of his job is to coach his employees. Nor is it hard to find evidence that the companies with the strongest leadership cultures are those that develop people at every level.

And yet you don't have to look too far to find managers who ignore this vital part of their job description. Why? The culture in which they work may not insist on it, and many managers also find the idea uncomfortable. The idea of talking one on one to an employee about how she is doing and what she could be doing better makes them uneasy. So they develop rationales for not coaching.

Here are the most common excuses I've heard, and my rebuttal to them.

1. "I don't like getting personal with my employees."

Reality: Coaching is a conversation. It focuses on how an employee is performing in the workplace. It need not get into an employee's personal life. The focus should be on what is happening on the workplace.

2. "I am a manager, not a therapist."

Reality: Coaching is not therapy. Behavioral issues that affect performance are a manager's concern but it is not your role to solve them. You should coordinate with human resources to find a licensed therapist or executive coach to provide assistance. But if the behavior is affecting other employees, you have an obligation to intervene and ensure the safety and welfare of direct reports.

3. "I don't have time for it."

Reality: Your job is to make sure the right things get done on time and on budget. How will that occur if don't make the time to find and develop the right people for the jobs?

4. "I don't like to dwell on the negatives."

Reality: Whenever I hear this excuse, I ask, "How long can you afford to carry a person who is not doing the job? " Subpar performers are a drain on time as well as resources--and the entire team.

5. "I don't want my people feeling too secure about their jobs."

Reality: Exit interview surveys reveal that employees often leave their jobs because they have the impression--often mistaken--that they are undervalued. As long as compensation needs are met, your staff is working for recognition. Coaching is one way to show it.

It's important for organizations to address the reasons people give for not coaching. Only when the company treats coaching as a priority will it create a culture in which coaching is not something managers ought to do--but something they do.

What reasons have you given--or heard others give--for not coaching at your company?