Quick quiz: If you walked into the office of one of your highest performers and said, “Hey, I’d like you to think about having (fill in the name of a respected person) coach you,” what response would you get? If your organization is like most, your star performer will be concerned and even a little offended.

This may say something about stars and their egos. But it also says something about our organizations.

Let’s face it. Most organizations assume coaching is for losers. It’s often a last, desperate act before making a role or employment change. And it often serves more to salve the conscience of a guilty executive (or HR person) than to serve the team member. I call these situations, “coaching the walking dead.” And it’s a complete waste. Coaching takes too long to create the fast turnaround desired in these situations (whether done by an insider or outsider). And it gives the team member a false sense that they may be able to turn things around. Usually, perceptions about them are hardened and they’re going to move on – they just don’t know it yet!

Worse yet, this approach guarantees that no self-respecting high performer will ask for coaching (or admit using it). So when they could use the personalized attention of a senior colleague or an outside coach, they will avoid it at all cost. They don’t want the smell of death sticking to their careers!

Here’s a better way: make the personal attention and help of senior staff or outside resources a sign of success and support. Cultivate a spirit of “we’re always learning and stretching around here – and those who perform get access to the most resources.”

How does coaching get allocated in your organization? How many of those you’re coaching are in the rising star category?