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Episode #283 – The Core Value of Coachability in Your Animal Health or Veterinary Career

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #283 - The Core Value of Coachability in Your Animal Health or Veterinary Career

Caleb: Welcome to “The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Animal Health executive recruiter and Veterinary recruiter Stacy Pursell of The VET Recruiter provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health and Veterinary industries. The VET Recruiter’s focus is to solve talent-centric problems for the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. In fact, The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary companies hire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

Today, we’ll be talking about the core value of reliability in a person’s Animal Health or Veterinary career. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Caleb. As always, I’m glad to be here with you.

Caleb: Stacy, I’m a bit intrigued by the core value that we’ll be discussing today, coachability. I don’t think I’ve heard that word very often. What does it mean, actually?

Stacy: Well, as you might have guessed by the name, it’s the ability to be coached by others. There are two parts to it, actually. First, it refers to the willingness to accept feedback. And second, it refers to the ability to improve based upon that feedback.

If you’ve hit a performance plateau in your Animal Health or Veterinary career, if you’re failing to lead your team effectively, or if you’re struggling in business, coaching can help you “shift gears” and get you back on course.

Caleb: Does this mean that people who are not coachable do not possess the ability to accept feedback or improve based upon that feedback?

Stacy: Yes, that’s one way of putting it. Remember, not all people handle feedback well. They don’t view it as a gift, which is how they should view it. Instead, some people take it as a personal attack, and since they take it that way, they reject the feedback and don’t use it to improve themselves.

Caleb: Stacy, we’ve identified coachability as a core value, but is it also a skill? If it was, I would guess it would be a soft skill.

Stacy: That would be a good guess, but ultimately, coachability is not a skill as much as it’s a mindset or mental attitude.

Caleb: Why is that?

Stacy: Your ability to be coached is determined by your emotional ability to withstand the necessary constructive criticism from other people. If you can’t withstand that constructive criticism, then you’re not a coachable person, no matter how many other technical skills and soft skills you may have.

Caleb: What is the proper attitude to have to be coachable?

Stacy: A coachable person is someone who does not shrink away from change, especially if it’s necessary for them to succeed. They understand that change can be a good thing, even if it is uncomfortable or inconvenient, and they’re willing do the work necessary to adapt.

Being coachable means being open to asking for and receiving feedback, looking inward at how you can move forward, and being interested in growth. You don’t take things personally or as a criticism. Instead, you see it as an opportunity.

Caleb: So some people don’t wait for feedback? They ask for it instead?

Stacy: Yes, and these are the people who are truly interested in growth in their Animal Health or Veterinary career. They’re proactive about doing the things they need to do to move forward, and asking for feedback is one of those things. They know that the sooner they receive constructive feedback, the sooner they can correct mistakes and address their weaknesses so they can improve. They realize that will only mean good things for their Animal Health and Veterinary career.

Caleb: Before we go any further, why is coachability important? What’s the big picture?

Stacy: Coachability is important for both an organization and the employees who work for that organization.

As we’ve been discussing, when you’re coachable, you’re able to accelerate your personal development and grow more in a shorter amount of time. You become better at your job, which allows you to offer more value to your current employer or a potential new employer. From an organization’s point of view, when you have a bunch of employees who are coachable, it means they’re willing to learn for the sake of becoming better and making the employer better. The employees become more productive and efficient, and that’s definitely a benefit for the organization.

Caleb: It seems to me that coachability is one of those core values that is more suited to someone’s professional life, as opposed to their personal life. Is that the case?

Stacy: You could say that. There are certainly more opportunities for a person to be coached in a professional setting, which is driven to a certain degree by performance. A person would expect to receive constructive criticism in a professional setting, whereas they might not in a personal one.

Caleb: Stacy, do you think people are more open to accepting feedback and constructive criticism in a professional setting rather than a personal one?

Stacy: That’s a great question, and I’m not sure I have a definitive answer. However, I will say that I think it depends upon the person. Some people are open to all feedback, whether it’s personal or professional. Some people are more open to professional feedback and not personal. And some are not open to feedback and constructive criticism at all, regardless of the setting.

Caleb: Stacy, we’ve been talking about coachability for people while they’re working for their current employer. What about when they’re interviewing for another position with a potential new employer? How is it applicable in that situation?

Stacy: Coachability is applicable during the interviewing and hiring process on multiple levels. First, the qualities of a coachable person are evident during an interview, and it starts with active listening and flexibility, both of which we’ve addressed before.

People who are coachable pick up on the subtlety of a conversation and recognize verbal cues. During an interview, they can adjust when the topic moves in a new direction. They can be flexible without having to be told.

In addition, if a candidate is working with a recruiter, that recruiter will typically receive feedback from the hiring manager or practice owner following the interview. That recruiter will then relay the feedback to the candidate. Sometimes, the feedback is negative in nature, or at the very least, is constructive in its criticism.

Candidates who receive this kind of feedback following an interview have to be able to handle it. They can’t view it as a personal attack. Instead, as we’ve been discussing, they must take it at face-value and then use it to address their weaknesses and improve.

Caleb: Because if they don’t, then that feedback is basically useless, am I right?

Stacy: You’re right. It would be valuable feedback that falls on deaf ears and then doesn’t help anyone.

Caleb: This might sound like an unusual question, but can a manager or leader tell when someone is coachable? Not right away, but shortly after meeting them and working with them?

Stacy: Yes, that is possible. That’s because people who are coachable have certain traits and characteristics that are easy to spot, including three big ones.

First, they have a learner’s mindset, and we discussed how important mindset is in terms of coachability. Someone with a learner’s mindset can admit that they don’t know everything and they want to find ways to grow, including growing their Animal Health or Veterinary career.

Second they’re ready to try new things, even if it means they have to make changes. They’re not afraid of change. In fact, they welcome change because they know it will afford them the opportunity to grow, which is what they want to do.

And third, they’re willing to be vulnerable, and this might be the most important characteristic of someone who is coachable.

Caleb: Why is that?

Stacy: Because no one wants to be vulnerable and no one likes the feeling of being vulnerable. In fact, people actively try to avoid being vulnerable. They’ll go out of their way to do so. As a result, someone who is okay with being vulnerable is rare.

Caleb: Here’s the big question: how can someone become more coachable? You mentioned that it’s not as much a skill as it is a mindset. How can someone get more into the mindset of being coachable so they don’t react negatively to feedback?

Stacy: I came prepared to answer this big question because I have seven ways that a person can improve their coachability.

First, check your ego. It’s difficult to be coachable if you think that you know everything already. Successful people are humble. They know they don’t know everything, so they’re always trying to learn more so they can improve. Being humble is a positive character trait of successful people

Second, actively listen to the instruction or feedback that’s being given to you. This means to focus on what the other person is saying and not just waiting for them to stop talking so you can speak. If you don’t actually hear and process what the other person is saying, then their feedback will be useless.

Third, remember that the person giving you feedback wants the best for you. They’re not out to get you or tear you down. This is where some people have trouble, because they take the feedback personally and that clouds their thinking.

Fourth, don’t make excuses in the face of feedback. This can be a knee-jerk reaction to receiving feedback. Instead of thinking critically about what the other person is saying, you start to make excuses for any of your perceived shortcomings. Once again, that can prevent you from being coachable.

Fifth, ask questions. This is a good way to get clarification on the feedback so that it will be more useful for you. If you’re actively listening and processing the feedback in a positive way, then you will probably have questions that will help you focus on what you need to do to improve.

Sixth, be willing to learn from more experienced people. The only thing better than learning from your own mistakes is to also learn from the mistakes of others. If someone has more experience than you in your chosen field, it’s a good idea to listen to what they have to say. They’ve seen and done things that you have not, and what they’ve learned from those experiences can benefit you.

And seventh, seek out constructive criticism on your own. This is perhaps the most difficult step, because you’re inviting feedback, so in essence, you’re inviting criticism. However, you’re doing so with the mindset that you’re going to use the feedback and criticism to improve. Some people won’t offer feedback without asking for it, so if you truly want to grow, then that’s what you must do.

Caleb: Stacy, we’re just about out of time, so is there anything else that you’d like to add before we wrap up today’s podcast episode?

Stacy: Yes, it’s important to remember that being coachable can help set you apart from others, and it does so in two main ways.

The first way is during the recruiting and hiring process, which I touched upon earlier. People who are coachable recognize verbal cues and are able to be flexible during a conversation, including during an interview. If they’re working with a recruiter, they must also receive feedback well from the recruiter and not view the feedback as a personal attack.

The second way is during the course of a person’s employment. Coachable employees add a considerable amount of value to any work environment. Since they take feedback to heart and want to grow and improve, they are more productive and efficient. In addition, they tend to get along better with coworkers, since they are confident and do not feel defensive or threatened.

Typically, people who are coachable are more successful than those who are not. If you take two people with similar backgrounds, similar levels of talent, and similar experience and one of them is coachable and the other is not, the person who is coachable will be more successful in the long run. They will have a better and more satisfying Animal Health or Veterinary career.

Caleb: Stacy, thank you so much for joining us today and for all of this great information about the core value of reliability and a person’s Animal Health or Veterinary career.

Stacy: You’re very welcome, Caleb, and thank you. It’s been my pleasure, and I look forward to our next episode of The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider!

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