There are key factors that I would say indicate whether an individual is ready for coaching or mentoring. First and foremost, the individual needs to want a coach or mentor; it has to be voluntary (or at the very least seen as suggested positive support for professional learning), because effective coaching will require a person to change personally and professionally. A person who feels forced into working with a coach or mentor, or sees it as ‘punishment’ for poor performance - or as a way to ‘guide’ them into another job - is highly unlikely to be ready for new experiences.
This main requirement frames-up the others, which include an awareness on the part of the individual that some aspects of the way they work need to be changed, and this goes hand-in-hand with a desire … or at least a willingness … to take responsibility for their own change. As mentioned before, a coach or mentor is unlikely to be effective if there is really strong resistance. (NB If the individual’s is a more common professional learning need, then it may be more appropriate to consider other forms of professional development than coaching.)
When these factors are in place the individual is way more likely to be open to discussions about their work, be happy to take on board feedback, and to then implement whatever is decided to see what the impact is. This is followed by a cycle of evaluation, further discussion and feedback, as well as consideration of other performance influences, all of which takes time. Therefore, an individual’s willingness to put in extra effort, as well as patience and an openness to try new things, are important.
Other things that would influence whether a person may be ready to work with a coach or mentor might include whether they are facing psychological issues, or are exhibiting behaviour that is not socially acceptable. In these cases, other professional help may be suggested.
Any others that you feel I have missed - please add them to the comments below :)
Image: 'NYC Neopan' http://www.flickr.com/photos/70013271@N00/4706468212 Found on flickrcc.net
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