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Female employees are more coachable than male employees

Posted by Deb Muoio

Nov 26, 2014 2:05:00 PM

I can think of at least a handful of guys I’ve driven around with who refused to ask for directions when we were lost – and one female friend…although she saw it not so much as being lost as simply “discovering new places.”

Here’s how my trip down lost memory lane started. I was looking at data from our Coaching & Trainability Assessment (CTAA). The statistics indicate that women are much more coachable than men.females employees

I'm not just talking about the relationship between athletes and coaches, or clients and life coaches. I’m referring to a general willingness to accept feedback, take direction, and strive for self-improvement.

The good news is that, in general, most people are quite open to being coached, trained or mentored. The bad news is that some people, when it gets right down to it, are unwilling to accept guidance – and according to our data, this applies to men in particular.

Here’s how men and women compared on our test:

  • Women are more coachable overall than men (score of 75 vs. 71 on a scale from 0 to 100)
  • Women are better at handling criticism (74 vs. 69)
  • Women are more open to learning and improvement (85 vs. 81)
  • Women are more willing to take direction (70 vs. 67)

 Other differences between men and women…

  • 2% of women vs. 7% of men believe that they don’t have any weaknesses.
  • 3% of women vs. 10% of men think that performance evaluations are a waste of time, because they are already good at what they do.
  • 5% of women vs. 11% of men will immediately shut down and stop listening as soon as they hear a negative comment about their work. (This is why nagging is a waste of time).
  • 7% of women vs. 16% of men exaggerate or over-estimate their professional skills.
  • 9% of women vs. 22% of men believe that they are much more knowledgeable than most people.
  • 10% of women vs. 25% of men believe that there is no point in pursuing a goal if you need other people’s help to achieve it.
  • 19% of women vs. 27% of men don’t like admitting to others when they are having difficulty understanding something, or are unfamiliar with the topic of conversation.
  • 85% of women vs. 79% of men are open to advice and suggestions from their manager.
  • If asked to list their faults, 10% of women and 15% of men would have a hard time coming up with any.

During a performance review…

  • 5% of women vs. 12% of men threatened to quit after a performance review.
  • 5% of women vs. 10% of men actually did quit after a performance review.
  • 13% of women vs. 30% of men told the critic that he/she is “wrong” or “misinformed.”
  • 25% of women vs. 34% of men agreed to improve or implement changes but never followed through.
  • 27% of women vs. 41% of men openly disagreed with the feedback they received.

Is this a matter of pride? Ego? Not wanting to look weak or incapable? After broaching the subject with men of various ages and professions, these were their responses:

“Because men are egotistical and know-it-alls. They think they know everything. Women are much more responsive, especially if they don’t know what they’re doing, and show a willingness to get help.” Anthony, 25 years old

“Because men feel like they can do anything on their own without the help of a coach or anyone else. Just like if a wife asks her husband to call a plumber to fix the toilet – he’s most likely going to try fixing it himself before calling for help, just like getting directions and just like being coached. They feel powerless when they’re being coached; like they’re being molded into an image, or are inferior to the coach…which is why they tend to act out and say, ‘I know how to do it’ or ‘I know what I’m doing’. They don’t want to feel useless or inferior which makes them hard to coach because men are know-it-alls. We want to feel like we’re in control. We’re afraid of having our manhood taken away.” Dario, 24 years old

“When you study male and female athletes it comes down to hormones. Testosterone will have men less coachable by a coach they don’t respect. Women are more objective and open-minded to coaching due to a less confrontational and aggressive genetic makeup. It’s hunter/gatherer vs. nurturer. [In general, it’s] 70% genetic, 30% environment. Women genetically have the maternal, nurturing qualities that allow them to be better listeners and assimilate better in a group setting. And accept criticism better. Less ego, less alpha male [issues].” Chris, 39 years old

“Perhaps because traditionally men view a need for help (or improvement) as weakness. Same reason they don't like to ask for directions.” Tom, 54 years old

Here are some tips that can help make the coaching process much smoother:

  • Use coaching to assist employees who are not performing work duties well. Discipline should be reserved for when an employee has an attitude problem or engages in improper conduct. A work performance issue is often a matter of poor skills, lack of knowledge, or other matters that stem from insufficient training. Coaching can also be used for succession training with promising employees, or as part of career development. Use coaching to bring employees up to where you want and need them to be.
  • Clearly set out the areas of the employee’s performance that needs to be worked on. Make sure that the employee knows that there is a performance problem and that he/she needs to improve. Ensure that the person is willing to put in the effort to change the situation. Set clear, quantifiable, and verifiable objectives and evaluation criteria. Provide examples of work that fits your standards so that employees know what they need to strive for.
  • Provide all the resources employees need for improvement. Ensure access to information, educational resources, and support. In addition, make sure that employees have enough time to fulfill tasks that you assign or delegate. Be available in case they have questions. And remember, there’s a difference between offering guidance and telling someone what to do.
  • Offer positive incentives to improve, not negative consequences for lack of improvement. Don’t make firing ultimatums unless an employee’s performance is sub-standard and has been for a long time. Fear may be a good motivator in the short-term, but it certainly won’t create a positive atmosphere in the work place. Promise increased salary, bonuses, or career advancement if the individual lives up to the expectations set forth – and be sure to deliver as promised.
  • When all else fails, it might be better to let an employee go. Give people a fair chance to improve and help them do so by providing guidance and structure. However, keep in mind that your first priority is the health of your organization, and holding on to people who are unwilling to change may jeopardize that. Most managers consider firing the least enjoyable part of their job but sometimes, such measures are beneficial in the long run. Think of it as encouraging the fired employee to find something he or she is really good at.

If you’re interested in using the CTAA (Coachability & Trainability Attitude Assessment) or other tests for HR purposes, request a free trial for ARCH Profile here.

Want to learn more about psychological testing? Download a free eBook – a practical guide on using tests for hiring, leadership/career development, training and team building: Download our free eBook

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Topics: Leadership Development, Mentoring, Employee Development, Coaching, Training

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