Tag Archives: skill will matrix

Selecting an appropriate coaching style

Over the last couple of weeks I have written about using a coaching style to get the best from your team.

This approach will have a different outcome depending on where people sit in the ‘skill will’ matrix.

The skill will matrix looks at two dimensions. On the one hand it takes into account someone’s ‘skill’. Here we look at their capabilities based on their experience, knowledge and skill. Even someone with little experience in a particular role or task may still have the knowledge to understand what is required (e.g. how to deal with customers will be from someone’s own experience of being on the receiving end of customer service).

On the other axis we look at someone’s willingness or motivation to perform a particular task. Someone can be quite skilled at a task, but still not be motivated to do it.





The Problem Child

Knows how but isn’t willing

Coach to motivate



The Star Performer

Can and Will

Coach to develop and progress



The Under Achiever

Neither willling nor able

Coaching less affective and hard work


The Apprentice

Willing but lacks the know how

Coaching help to apply learning        




Let’s consider what role coaching has to play in each of these four quadrants.


Top right – Star Performers

The aim of coaching here is to stretch people. This does not necessarily mean you are grooming them for a bigger or better job; your aim is to at least make them even better at the existing task, and to prevent them moving across into the top left box.

These people are the ones who will be most receptive to a non-directive coaching approach.


Top left – Problem Child

These are people who are quite capable, but not motivated. Often this same person may have been motivated at some point, but over a period of time has crept across into this box due to boredom or lack of recognition. Or they may move from willing to unwilling due to a one off event e.g. something has gone wrong, and they have lost confidence.  Either way your aim is to get them back into the star performer box, so you need to either enthuse them or rebuild their confidence. By using a non-directive approach you will be more likely to get buy in from them, and more likely to get them to recognise their own abilities to build confidence. However people in this category can sometimes be cynical or suspicious of you using a non-directive approach, so tread carefully.


Bottom right – The Apprentice

People new to their role or to a particular task will often be enthusiastic, but lack the skills or knowledge needed. Here you need to use a combination of direction followed by non-directive coaching to guide them put their new knowledge and skills into practice. Again you aim is to move them into the top right-hand box.


Bottom left – Under achiever

Coaching does not suit every situation or person.  The nearer people sit to the bottom left hand corner the more directive you will need to be.


Recognise that individual employees will sit in different boxes on different tasks. Someone who is a star performer in some areas, may lack motivation in others, and may be taking on new tasks from time to time which can put them in wither of the two bottom boxes. Equally someone who is an under achiever in some tasks may still sit in any one of the other boxes for other task.

Do you know where each of your team sit on the matrix for each of the tasks they are responsible for?


Coaching and leadership styles will be covered in detail in my forthcoming Leading for Peak Performace programme which is being launched in late September.