How to be Coachable in Healthcare

Last Updated: 11 August 2022

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All of us have been in teams where it just seems to click: work is completed on time, lines of communication run in every direction, and you’re all generally satisfied with each other’s work.

This can be (in part) due to luck. However, it’s more likely due to something a bit more controllable: coachability.

In a professional healthcare setting, the way you respond to feedback not only influences your reputation: it also influences your practice.

In this article, we discuss the definition of coachability as well as its possible benefits and its application in your own practice.

What is coachability?

Coachability is the attitude a person takes towards receiving feedback. If someone is ‘coachable’, they listen to feedback, respectfully ask questions about said feedback, and subsequently enact it in practice.

Coachability is not limited to people receiving feedback from their superiors: just like everyone else, managers need to be coachable in all directions. This means they are able to – if not eager to – receive feedback from those they manage as well as those who manage them.

Why does coachability matter?

Coachability is important because it makes you a more malleable, flexible and engaged member of your team.

It also makes you a better carer for your patients and their loved ones.

Think about it this way: if you make one mistake and you have a coachable attitude, you’re unlikely to make that mistake again. You’ll learn from it.

However, if you make one mistake and you don’t have a coachable attitude, you won’t internalise the feedback given to you, and you’ll likely make the same mistake again. Depending on the severity of this mistake, the fallout could directly and adversely affect a patient’s care journey.

Coachability is also, in part, an inheritable element of workplace teams. When younger, less experienced members of your workplace team see someone they respect and admire taking feedback with dignity, respect and drive, they’ll be more likely to do so as well. This not only creates a strong and effective workplace environment, it also shows that you’re someone they can approach for high-quality feedback as well.

How can you become more coachable?

In healthcare settings, it can be hard to find time to deliver – and request – constructive feedback. Often, feedback will be delivered in between tasks and may come across as curt or short-tempered.

In situations when someone’s advice seems targeted or hurtful, it’s essential to remember to see feedback as feedback, not criticism. If someone points out something you’re doing inefficiently or provides you with a better option, that’s just another opportunity for you to prove yourself as a conscientious, engaged and high-quality professional to have on the team.

As such, when you’re delivering feedback to your colleagues, it’s important to deliver it how you would want to hear it. If you don’t have enough time to deliver it how you want to hear it – for example, between attending to patients or during a ward round – wait until later.

Unless someone’s life is in danger, it’s not worth facilitating the creation of a toxic work environment in order to tell someone they did something wrong on their previous shift.

Overall, the best way to become more coachable in your day-to-day practice is to be open-minded and to remember that feedback is feedback, not criticism.

What else is there to learn?

Coachability is part of the foundation required to build a strong learning mindset. Consolidate what you’ve learnt in this article using other articles published to The Handover.

Have a look at these, and consider how you can apply them to your practice or which of your colleagues could benefit:

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NCSA Editorial, 2022. ‘How to Be Coachable.’ Next College Student Athlete. Accessed 12 August 2022 via

Sarioglu, O., 2022. ‘Why Genuine Coachability Matters And How To Achieve It.’ Forbes: Council Post. Accessed 12 August 2022 via

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