Coming from a sports background between being a student-athlete and coaching, it’s obvious that sometimes it is not about the initial skill set a player can bring to the table, but how coachable they are to acquire new skillsets and learn from mistakes. A player can score goals each game, but if they don’t have the right attitude to change bad habits or motivate their peers, are they really a good team member?
You’re probably wondering how this relates to business and employees… Sports are just like business. Athletes (employees) and coaches (managers) must aim for an end goal, go up against competition, work as a team, receive and give feedback, manage their time, and hit deadlines.
There are even articles that state employers should look to hire employees that were former athletes. That doesn’t necessarily have to be the case, but finding candidates that are coachable is certainly important to any organization. In order to find the most coachable candidates, there are certain areas that can be observed and interview questions that can be asked.
Collaborating and working as a team: It’s important to judge how well a candidate will work with others, collaborate, and maximize team strengths. An interview question to ask is, “Tell me about a time where you had to work towards an end goal as a group. What were the challenges you came across and was the team successful?”
Giving and receiving feedback: A person will never know if they are doing something wrong unless it is brought to their attention. Feedback in sports and in business is crucial. An employee will never improve unless feedback is an open and receptive conversation, as an athlete will never be able to improve on the field without constructive criticism at practice. Interview questions to ask are, “Tell me about a time you received feedback from your manager. How did you respond to that feedback and did you apply the feedback?” “Tell me a time where you had to give difficult feedback to a peer or manager.”
Overcoming adversity or challenges: Being coachable doesn’t just mean you can take feedback well, it also means you can face adversity and overcome obstacles in the way of success. Many businesses will run up against competition in their market or industry, or hit internal obstacles that cause stress. Those that adjust to the challenges and take adversity in stride are typically the most successful in the end. A good interview question to determine if a candidate innately has those traits is, “Tell me about a time of adversity or challenge and how did you over come it. What did you learn from the situation?”
Communication: Lastly, communication is key in every part of life, whether in sports, relationships, or at work. And I don’t just mean being able to concisely convey a message; it also involves being comfortable having difficult conversations, listening to what others are saying, being open to taking accountably, and motivating others. An employer is going to be coachable if they listen instead of just hearing, and possess overall good communication skills. A few ways to spot a candidate with good communication skills are, “Tell me about a time you had to communicate with someone who was angry or frustrated. How did you handle this situation? What was the result?” and “Tell me about a time you were able to successfully persuade someone at work. What was the situation and how were you able to persuade them?”
In short, it is crucial for employers or managers to consider coachability as an important aspect in hiring. If a candidate does not seem as though they are coachable, then it is more than likely they will not be open to improvement, working with others, or might cause conflict within the workplace. For all employers, take your time interviewing to make sure you are bringing on the most coachable employees to your organization.