Why Being Coachable Is the One Thing You Need to Look for in New Hires

4 min read
Feb 21, 2017

Some hiring managers prefer candidates who have great experience. Others are more interested in hiring folks with great personalities who they believe will fit in with the company culture. Still others choose candidates who are self-starters and can work autonomously.  

What’s the top characteristic you look for in the people you decide to hire?

If it’s not coachability, you may want to reconsider the traits you prioritize. While coachability is not the only characteristic you should consider, its presence usually indicates that a qualified candidate will succeed in their new role.

Before you make your next hiring decision, consider weeding out candidates who are unlikely to be coachable before extending a job offer to the most qualified applicant. That way, you can increase the chances that your new hire works out — and decides to stick around for the foreseeable future.

Here are seven traits that highly coachable employees bring to the table that show why coachability is arguably the one thing you need to look for in every candidate you hire:


01. They understand they don’t know everything

Anyone who’s worked with a know-it-all understands how grating of an experience it can be. Those kinds of workers think that their way to do everything is not only the best way, but the only way. It’s virtually impossible to convince these pseudo-geniuses to break their habits and try something new because they believe it’s a waste of time.

When employees are coachable, they come to work knowing that they are not the most skilled professional in the world. While they may take pride in certain aspects of their work, they understand they don’t know everything. More importantly, they understand that their bosses are more knowledgeable in a number of areas — and they’re cool with taking advice and direction from them.


02. They work hard to continue to improve

Coachable employees have a growth mindset. This means they are aware that they can develop new skills and learn new things they can apply to their work every single day. As time goes on, with a strong employee development program they can develop into even more important parts of the organizations they work for.


03. They are not stubborn

Source: GIPHY

To succeed in today’s business world, workers need to be flexible. Unless you’re running the show, decisions will invariably be made that you disagree with.

Coachable employees understand that they are not right all of the time. Instead of being stubborn, they are much more willing to work with their peers and trust what they have to say. Not only does this help teams become more effective as they don’t have to argue over the minutiae of every single point, it also contributes to a more welcoming culture. Since positive company cultures are strongly correlated with employee happiness, hiring workers who possess the ability to be agreeable with those who think differently is critically important to the health of any organization.


04. They collaborate more successfully

Collaboration is a cornerstone of every successful business because it provides organizations with a number of benefits. Teams become more productive. Since every member’s best qualities are leveraged, the quality of the work they do improves as well. Additionally, collaboration is a great team-building exercise, as workers get to know each other even better over the course of working on a project.

Since coachable employees are OK with admitting their ideas might not always be the best ones on the table, they perform much better in collaborative settings than their obstinate peers. Instead of hitting roadblocks throughout team projects, coachable employees help move them forward efficiently.


05. They seek out feedback

It’s one thing for an employee to consider a manager’s feedback when they provide it. It’s quite another for someone to proactively seek out feedback for the sole reason they want to become an even stronger contributor.

Rather than keeping to themselves and thinking they’re doing a great job, coachable employees are constantly on the lookout for constructive feedback so that they can become even better. No, this doesn’t necessarily mean they have to pop into your office multiple times a day to ask you what they could be doing better. Thanks to pulse surveys that are administered electronically, feedback can be given promptly and efficiently.


06. They treat failure as a learning experience

For some workers, failure is devastating. They take it as a slight against their abilities. Because nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, workers who think this way can really hold teams back.

Coachable employees, on the other hand, understand that failure comes with the territory. If you’re not failing at least occasionally, you’re not challenging yourself and growing as a result of it. Instead of letting failure depress them, coachable employees treat every misstep as a learning experience. Over time, they continue to refine. In some cases, they may even welcome failure because they know they will end up stronger on the other side of it.


07. They are more enjoyable to work with

Stubborn employees aren’t too fun to work with, to say the least. In order to move things forward and avoid a confrontation, coworkers are forced to accommodate them regularly. Even the most flexible employees in the world will get a little irritated by the one-sided relationships these kinds of workers inevitably create.

Since coachable employees are much more inclined to listen to what other people have to say, they’re almost always more fun to work with. They understand that their coworkers have different skill sets and are simply better at certain things than they are. They’re totally fine with deferring to their coworkers on certain issues. This creates a much friendlier and supportive environment to work in every day and reinforces a positive company culture.

If you’re ever given the choice between hiring a stubborn worker who possesses the most skills in the world or a very competent worker who’s coachable, you’ll be better off offering a job to the latter candidate. That’s the person who will grow into an even more effective worker and a more integral part of the team over time.




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