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Availability, employability and coachability

Tom Wall Published on 27 June 2011
When you need to hire a new employee, what are some of the traits you look for in an applicant? How about when a position opens up and you’re planning to promote someone from within your team?

If you were asked to answer those two questions at a seminar with a room full of managers, I’m sure the group would come up with a pretty long list of characteristics. Actually, it would probably be so extensive, you might decide not to hire or promote anyone until the perfect candidate comes along!

But most of the time when someone chooses to quit, you need to hire their replacement as soon as possible. And unfortunately, out of desperation, you’re probably even tempted to hire the next person available.

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But instead of going that route, how about considering a person’s employability and coachability?

I think all managers take into account how employable a candidate is, whether they realize it or not. Assessing an applicant’s employability involves first impressions, employment history, responses to your questions and overall job qualifications.

Neglecting to take a little extra time to honestly and fairly evaluate these basic attributes will almost certainly increase your odds of hiring someone who isn’t going to meet your expectations in the long run.

But what about coachability? You might even be asking yourself, “What the heck is coachability?” At the risk of sounding too obvious, coachability refers to how coachable someone is.

And chances are, you’ve noticed this characteristic with a few of your employees whenever you start a new project or try to implement change. Some are eager to learn and easy to teach, while others are not.

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Whereas most managers would say we need to spend more time working with those who need more help, I argue that we need to invest more time with the ones who will catch on the fastest.

In other words, I recommend you choose to work with your most coachable employees first. Once they help you demonstrate your plan will work, you establish reasonable expectations and gain momentum that will hopefully wear off on the other members of your team.

Leading and managing people is anything but easy. In fact, being a successful manager and leader often has just as much to do with your employees as it does with you.

So how can you make sure you and your team will be more successful in the future? Avoid investing in someone simply because of their availability. From now on, spend more time hiring and developing people who possess coachability. PD

Tom Wall

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