work and other people. To relate to
your employees, discover how they see
the situation, accept the validity of their
perspective and use your awareness of it
to plan their development with them.
A gap exists between training and
performance. What I call “coachability”
bridges this gap. Employee coachability is a mindset, a way people explain things to themselves. Its primary
insight is that management views the
employee as worthy of investment and
a partner in success. It is a situation of
guidance, not control. This is essential
because employees don’t want to feel
controlled, and when they do, they typically act as if control were warranted.
Understanding our three psychological needs enables you to nurture
coachability among your employees
and make the investment in training a
profitable one. n
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JOSEPH ST. MEYER, PH.D.
is a senior consultant for
St. Meyer and Hubbard,
a sales training and
coaching firm in Elgin,
Ill. He studies coachability—a set of
attitudes and behaviors embodied in
the person being coached that links
training to enduring performance
gains. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
How to Effectively Develop
for their attitudes and
actions. Employees self-monitor and use this
insight to collaborate with their manager in the developmental process. Autonomy isn’t anarchy; it’s a consequence of
management providing choices—such
as employee participation in deciding
which goals to set or tactics to use.
Fostering autonomy involves providing a rationale for managerial decisions, demystifying what is expected
and what needs to be done. It is sustained by positive feedback, necessary
resources and detailed plans.
Autonomy leads to a feeling of competence. When we feel that we don’t
have control over our careers and that
management is manipulative, we don’t
feel competent and eventually our goal is
to hide our incompetence. Autonomous
employees assess their competence and
ask themselves how they can be of better
service to their clients and the organization. The employees consider competence to be ever increasing mastery, not a
possession. Competence for them is the
result of a continual process of learning
and development, practice and process.
Relatedness, the third need, is built
on autonomy and competence. We are
inherently driven toward creating rela-
tionships, which give meaning to our
lives and purpose to our careers. Au-
tonomy and competence affect related-
ness because, when we feel constrained
and incompetent, we try to hide this
burden by detaching ourselves from
The major problem with training is
transferring it to real-world situations.
It was estimated that only 10 percent of
What do your employees need?
training investment pays off in the end.
How we view training is crucial. It’s
a matter of prepositions becoming po-
sitions: training as something done to
the employee rather than with him.
Development is too often consid-
ered a fixed outcome rather than an
ongoing process. Once trained, the
employee is expected to be an automa-
ton acting as programmed. Career
development isn’t isolated in the so-
called real world, where fuzzy concepts
such as psychological well-being aren’t
related to the bottom line.
For more than a century, psychologists
have been studying the psychology of
work. From their research, it is obvious
that we don’t leave our psychological needs at home before making the
To lead people, it’s crucial to understand what they need. Psychologists
Edward Deci and Richard Ryan have
identified three psychological needs:
autonomy, competence and relatedness.
These needs are interconnected and
Satisfying these needs starts with
establishing autonomy. Employees are
autonomous when they feel that they
can influence their career’s progress.
Autonomous employees act with self-determination, accepting responsibility
U.S. COMPANIES ANNUALLY SPEND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS on training and coaching their employees. Despite this com- mitment, a recent study showed that 52 percent of surveyed employers considered themselves ineffective at employee de-
velopment. Only 13 percent thought they have a proper understanding
of the necessary skills and capabilities.