Yes, there is a polite way to do it. Here are a few questions you might consider:
Are you the right person to be broaching this topic with your colleague?
- What are your reasons and motivations for recommending this action?
- Have you and your colleague discussed work frustrations and hopes before?
- Do you know if the person already has a coach or mentor?
- How would you respond if the roles were reversed?
- Who might be better positioned to talk about this?
Why might someone use a coach?
They are at the beginning of their career:
They need some help navigating the work environment, clarifying priorities and learning how to adapt to new situations
They are mid career:
They are looking for work-life balance, considering whether or not they should pursuit new responsibilities or shed old ones
They are closer to the end of their career than the beginning:
How to stay engaged in a more manageable way, reduce workload or need to prepare for retirement
They are experiencing stress:
How do they sort out competing interests, demands and priorities in order to move forward
They are feeling stuck:
They are uncertain about “what’s next” and could use some structure and a systematic way to work out some tough questions in order to determine next steps
They are new to leadership:
How do they achieve success in their new assignment while “learning on the job” as they continue to develop their leadership capabilities
How can you do this properly?
- Think about what you want to communicate
- Find an appropriate place and time: private and unhurried
- Be non-judgmental – state what you are feeling and seeing – be certain about “you”
- Ask questions that call for thought and elaboration: “I’ve noticed you seem to be (from list above), would you welcome some help with that? What help would you want?”
- Keep your emotions in check
- Do not take offense if your colleague is not interested
- Do not push the conversation – let your colleague pull you along once the topic is opened
- Do not revisit the conversation – let your colleague take control and set the pace
- Do not make either a yes or no “personal” – it’s professional
If you have additional thoughts, questions or comments on this, please leave a comment below.