Raise Your Coaching Currency: How To Build A Culture Of Coachability In Any Industry

October 20, 2023 | Reskilling Your Workforce | 5 min read

Coaching in the workplace is a concept that is derived from the world of sports.

As Superbowl-winning NFL quarterback Patrick Mahomes said of his Kansas City Chiefs coach, Andy Reid, “Coach Reid is a great teacher. He understands how people learn, understands how to get people to get the concept of what the play is and why we’re running it.”

Mahomes knows he needs Reid to move the ball forward, and that same perspective can be applied to the business world.

The openness to being coached is a life skill that translates to every industry imaginable.

To remain competitive and improve, it’s essential for a company to cultivate a culture that embraces coaching and ongoing learning. This can propel the organization forward and facilitate individual and team growth. As the idea of coaching continues to transform workplaces, creating a culture of Coachability is critical for sustaining coaching impact within companies.

What Is Coachability?

At its core, coachability refers to an individual's ability and willingness to absorb feedback, learn, and adapt their behavior or skills in response.

It indicates an open mindset, receptiveness to constructive criticism, and a strong desire for personal growth and improvement.

Promoting a culture of coachability within a workforce leads to many benefits, including:

  • Increased productivity
  • Better problem-solving abilities
  • More transparent communication
  • Greater innovation and adaptability

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The Coachability Spectrum

Like so many things in life, coachability is not a binary trait. Rather, it exists along a spectrum with people who range anywhere from low coachability to high coachability.

High coachability individuals tend to be flexible, resilient, and eager to embrace new concepts or techniques, making them valuable assets in any team or organization. Whereas those with low coachability tend to be more resistant to change, avoid taking responsibility and often avoid any type of change. They are the ideal employees to have on your team.

How can you build a culture of coachability?

The first step to building a culture of coachability is to identify where your employees are on this spectrum. I’ve outlined some characteristics along the spectrum below.

Low coachability traits

  • Resistant to feedback
  • Lack of openness to learning
  • Avoid taking responsibility
  • Blame others for circumstances
  • Avoid change

Average coachability traits

  • Agreeable (which does not necessarily translate to coachability)
  • Lack of follow-through
  • Can be passive aggressive

High coachability traits

  • Prepared
  • Incorporate feedback
  • Self-reflect
  • Admit failure
  • Look for opportunities to learn from peers, colleagues, managers, etc.


The good news? Coachability is not set in stone; it can be cultivated and developed. This leads us to explore the concept of a growth-mindset versus fixed mindset.

Coachability goes hand-in-hand with embracing a growth mindset. Having a growth mindset means one believes their own talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies, and input from others. In other words: everything can be taught.

A fixed mindset is a belief that “I’m either good at something or I’m not.”

Growth mindset thinking not only plays a pivotal role in personal and professional development, but it can also determine one’s acceptance of coaching.

Employees can reshape their mindset and approach to learning and skill development, but it takes the help of their organization. By providing a program that delivers quality coaching at scale, employers can play a crucial role in creating an environment that nurtures and supports growth.

Coaching programs, for instance:

  • Assess individuals’ opportunities for personal growth
  • Build a customized professional development plan
  • Help employees work one-on-one with a leadership coach
  • Reinforce concepts through content
  • Measure performance

How Can Employees Move up the Coachability Spectrum With the Help of a Coach?

To move employees up the coachability spectrum, it’s important to understand the reasons behind their current position. A coach can conduct a root cause analysis to identify any barriers to coachability and develop targeted strategies to address them.

Some employees may have misconceptions or negative associations with coaching. According to Forbes, common misconceptions about coaching include: “coaching is something you do to others” or “coaching is getting people to do what a leader wants them to do, without them knowing it.” Through education and clear communication, employees can understand the true purpose of coaching, dispelling any misconceptions and creating a positive attitude towards the process.

Establishing clear, compelling goals also helps raise the coaching currency at work. Coaches can make and prioritize goals, and make them passionate, personal, and inspiring so they resonate and aren’t just compliance-driven. Engaging employees with meaningful objectives fuels their motivation to embrace coaching and a growth mindset.

One thing not to ignore when it comes to moving the coachability needle? Employee workload stress and burnout. According to PAYCHEX, “the consequences of burnout may include increased employee absence, lower productivity, and higher turnover, all of which can affect a company's bottom line.” Coaches can help employees manage their workload, set boundaries, and promote self-care to enhance their coachability.

A crucial way to move the needle of coachability is to foster trust and engagement. According to Great Place to Work, trust is built on credibility, respect, and fairness. Coaches should focus on creating a safe and supportive environment where employees feel comfortable exploring their growth opportunities.

Finally, don’t forget to address psychological wounds with employees. Trauma and unhealed psychological wounds can be significant obstacles to coachability. Coaches may recommend therapy or counseling as a necessary step before embarking on the journey of growth through coaching.

The Coaching Evolution

Building a culture of coachability is a transformative journey that requires commitment and collaboration. By understanding the coachability spectrum and employing the right strategies, organizations can empower employees to embrace a growth mindset, thereby driving personal and organizational success.

Calibrating individuals on the coachability scale, assessing trust levels, and asking insightful questions help identify barriers to coachability. Remember, the approach to cultivating coachability should be more relational than transactional, emphasizing openness and kindness.

By embracing a culture of coachability, organizations can unleash the full potential of their workforce, foster innovation, and thrive in today's competitive landscape.