Three barriers to successful coaching.

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It's always good to explore strategies and techniques with a positive psychology but it can also be highly instructive to consider what goes wrong as a guide to getting things right.

The barriers to successful coaching can be grouped into three key areas:

1. The framework in which the coaching takes place.

2. The environment in which the coaching occurs.

3. The behaviours of the coach.

The framework in which the coaching takes place could be called the set up. In an eager rush to just get started with the coaching cycle it is tempting for the coach and the coachee to want to skip over this stage. It is also the point when a coach feels most vulnerable because the set up might conclude with a decision that they are not the right person for this coachee. However, if the framework isn't established there is a much greater likelihood that the coaching will fail to achieve its aims or will run into serious problems along the way.

In the set up the coach needs to listen to the aspirations of the coachee, and have the courage to make is clear when those aspirations may not be achievable through coaching alone. The coach and coachee need to discuss the frequency of the coaching and the duration of each session. With the right framework both coach and coachee will come to each session with a clear understanding of how it will be conducted.

The environment in which the coaching takes place is usually the same throughout an entire coaching cycle. The environment has to be convenient and accessible to both parties. The coach needs to consider the issues of privacy, comfort and potential distractions. A coachee may believe that the local coffee house is an ideal venue but a caring coaching will want to warn of the risks that come from being in a vibrant and public space.

Assuming that the framework and environment are established in consultation, the third barrier to successful coaching rests entirely with the coach. The top four negative behaviours that create a barrier to successful coaching are:

Switching from enquiring to solutions mode.

Mental drift.

Clock watching.

Talking more than listening.

It's a very quick guide to the three factors that impair successful coaching but sometimes we all need a quick reminder of what we shouldn't do so that we show up and do our best.

If you are in education and are interested in establishing a success coaching culture check out our website at, or if you are seeking high quality performance coaching go to

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