Many managers consider an element of coaching to be an inherent part of their role, but when is it time to call in a professional coach? Writing in the Harvard Business Review, employee relations expert Robin Wynn offers several scenarios where the manager role ends and the professional coach role really should begin.

If you have a close personal relationship with an employee, getting stuck into areas that need to be challenged and improved can be an exceedingly touchy, if not sore, process. If there’s a genuine concern but the personal and business relationship has become blurry, it’s a sign that a professional coach is needed.

Most managers know what it’s like to find their annual review feedback being subtly brushed off by a popular, able employee who generally gets on well with colleagues, managers and clients alike. These employees tend to be bright and subtly defensive when you want to discuss ways of improving an area of concern, gently switching the conversation to that astounding football match at the weekend.

They may be your top sales person, but if they unwittingly got on the wrong side of a conservative client with their jokes, they need to take stock. Wynn recommends a professional coach, letting the employee know that you value their work but want them to excel in a specific area. If they try to dismiss the idea, let them know that the company is investing in their professional development by bringing in a coach, which is definitely a good thing.

Star employees may be amazingly good at their defined role, but if they’re abrasive and bruising with colleagues, they need to work on a little self-awareness. Most companies value not only results, but results achieved in a professional manner. Professional coaching to address the specific issue can be extremely valuable in helping a star performer refrain from unwittingly antagonising the rest of your workforce.

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