There are some situations where , as a coach, we need to use considerable tact and diplomacy. Here are a few cases from my experience:

  1. When I first met the lady executive who I was asked to coach, I could see the skepticism in her eyes. Her manager had not briefed her at all about my role and the coaching assignment. He had arranged for me to meet with her and felt his job was over. The lady was more upset about her manager’s role in this episode than being coached.
  2. The executive concerned felt he did not need any coaching. He felt these new fangled initiatives were not for people like him.
  3. The person concerned felt that the organization had singled him out for coaching. He feared that his peers would feel there were inadequacies in him which warranted such an action.

As you can see, in these cases, the people concerned were:

  • Not properly briefed about the coaching assignment
  • Not interested in being coached
  • Not happy with the perceived publicity given to their being chosen for coaching.

Being open and upfront is best in such situations. In the first case, the issue is about being nominated for a coaching program. Either her manager was far too busy to explain the objectives or perhaps felt that was best done by the coach.

I began by asking her whether at all she wanted to proceed. I explained the objective and benefits in other such assignments and said that this was at the behest of her manager. I told her that we should speak to him once we were clear on whether we would go ahead with the plan.

In the second case, I asked the person to briefly tell me about his career goals. Even if he felt he did not need coaching, I asked him about the competences he would develop to get there. I then told him of other cases where I had helped people in similar circumstances and the results that followed. I ended by thanking him for his time. By now, he showed more interest than before. He asked me questions about other assignments I had completed. To cut a long story short, he said he would be happy to be associated with me and gain from the coaching.

In the third case, I explained that he should not perceive being coached as being singled out as being incompetent. On the contrary, organizations are investing time, effort, and money on coaching to develop people with potential. He should realize that the organization was actually investing in him and not punishing him for poor performance.

As you nominate your people for coaching, I hope you will keep these incidents in mind and do the necessary ground work before the assignment.

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This is the 97 th of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.