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How Do We Persuade a Good Manager to Get Better?

What should we do when an otherwise strong and productive manager resists coaching? —Behind the Scenes, health care, Charlotte, North Carolina
February 1, 2012
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Related Topics: Management Skills and Development, Dear Workforce
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Dear Behind the Scenes:

The simple question to address your question is: Why coaching and why now? Is the coaching's purpose and timing aligned with the individual's goals or the sponsor's goals? There are three variables at play that may create resistance: personality profile, organizational climate and perceived value of what is being offered.

Personalities that resist coaching

Assessments that measure behaviors, motivators and acumen have become an effective and key part of professional executive coaching. The right assessments can pinpoint with great accuracy where to concentrate coaching within the goals of the coaching assignment. In addition, some assessments not only identify a person's talents but can also identify the person's openness to coaching—before any coaching has begun. Knowing how open a person is to coaching before starting provides guidance to how best to start the coaching. A small percentage of people will not be open to coaching, regardless of the need, even if they outwardly accept it and show up for every session. Challenging the client's willingness and commitment upfront under these circumstances can result in a stronger engagement or allow the client and sponsor to opt out with minimal expense.

Organizational climate that doesn't support professional growth

In many organizations, the pace and workload are so great that people who may benefit from coaching cannot see its benefits vs. other ways to spend their time. They may also fear the time allocated to coaching, if it affects their productivity, will be punished rather than rewarded. Agreement on how the time for coaching will be supported and the purpose and outcomes of coaching can reduce the client's anxiety. Benefits of coaching must be aligned with the client's personal intrinsic motivators upfront. If a client can visualize the tangible immediate and long-term benefits of coaching, he is more likely to commit to it.

Perceived value is not aligned with personal and professional goals

Similar to what is needed with issues involving organizational climate, perceived value must be seen upfront or shortly after coaching begins. For otherwise good performers, the concern may be whether the coaching will make a significant difference and help them address areas meaningful to their short- and long-term success (the return-on-investment and credibility factors) and are aligned to their career goals. Once alignment has been attained, additional perceived value is created by the client's perception of the coach (trust and credibility), the approach and methods that will be used, others' testimonials about coaching and the specific objectives of coaching. It is critical that the objectives are developed collaboratively with the client and are in alignment with their personal career ambitions.

In the case of people who are underperforming to their potential, resistance to coaching can be mitigated if the pain threshold is high enough and the risk of not engaging in coaching is high, such as fear of being fired. When pain or risks are not a factor—in other words, the person being coached is a high performer who is being groomed for larger responsibilities—the perceived value must be high. Many organizations are reluctant to promise someone a promotion in the future, but a professional development plan that considers their long-term potential enables coaching to be seen as part of the natural process. Regardless of the catalyst for coaching, the person who sees coaching in a positive light is likely to be open to receiving it. Credible assessments can identify the source of the resistance and assist in lowering the resistance. Pinpointing the resistance upfront tends to get the client's attention in a profound way, which can lead to greater openness.

SOURCE: Carl Nielson, The Nielson Group, Dallas

LEARN MORE: Managers often require coaching to effectively steer their employees' career development, experts say

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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