Barriers to Coaching

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A – Z Coaching and Mentoring

Remember that if you have a special request for a definition of a coaching term or principle, just let us know! Perfect for anyone studying for an ILM Coaching & Mentoring qualification, or as a refresher for experienced coaches.


Barriers to coaching can exist on a personal level or across an organisation. Here are a few examples:

Personal barriers:

  • Fear of failure
  • Previous experience – low or high, good or bad
  • Fear of change
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of confidence
  • Not enough time
  • Lack of trust

Organisational barriers:

  • Culture of poor or limited staff development
  • Coaching not seen as a priority for time or budget allocation
  • Low level of coaching skills
  • Low level of resources and budgets
  • Lack of time or time pressures
  • Limited understanding of its value
  • Resistance from senior management
  • Transactional rather than transformational culture
  • Lack of psychological safety
  • Lack of integration and a hit and miss approach
  • A focus on poor performance rather than an ‘excellence’ focus
  • Coaching seen as a referral route for remedial support
  • A blurring of the boundaries between coaching and mentoring
  • Lack of measurement of impact and ROI / ROE evidence
  • Previous coaching initiatives which fizzled out or failed
  • Reliance on a couple of enthusiasts and / or experts – hen they leave, coaching goes with them

Operational barriers:

  • Shift patterns
  • Multiple site working and remote working
  • Standardisation of models, recording and reporting – not enough or too much.

Coaching should be introduced gradually in order for it to be truly successful and sustainable. Remove barriers at a rate slow enough to win hearts and minds rather than at a speed which causes fear, is over-evangelical or gives the impression that coaching is a ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ fad.

Taken from the A-Z Coaching Handbook by Clare Smale where you will find a comprehensive A-Z, plus a full list of references.

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