Is Every Situation a Coaching Opportunity?
Is every situation a coaching opportunity? Have you ever attempted to coach a manager only to find that it was a total flop? Did your reputation take a blow? Did management feel that you were usurping their authority? Avoid these pitfalls.
What is the best way to work hand-in-hand with management while each keeps to their own responsibilities? It is not seldom that a manager feels threatened by having an external coach interfere with their direct reports’ developmental needs.
How can internal and external coaches and managers work together towards a common goal? To find a possible answer, let’s review a typical coaching situation in an organization and determine whether it is a coaching opportunity.
You are coaching George, a leader, and his direct report Sally. They are both working in a flavor and fragrance company. Each one has a separate meeting with you each week. George, the leader, has confided in you about some problems he is having with Sally. George expects you to bring these issues up with Sally. What do you do
‘Management is, above all, a practice where art, science, and craft meet.’ Henry Mintzberg
Are these coaching opportunities?
- have separate discussions with George and Sally.
- bring George and Sally together to confront their different points of view and mediate their differences.
- go to Sally and confide to her that George is having difficulties communicating with her in an attempt to help them get together.
No, how would an experienced or ICF certified coach tackle the situation? Getting clarity about the best way to proceed can help coaches avoid common pitfalls.
First of all, there is an ethical issue involved in this case. A coach is a keeper of confidentiality. Under no circumstances should the coach talk to Sally about what George has confided. Why? Because the coach’s role is to be a catalyst. It is the coach’s job to support George while he clarifies his needs, but on no account should the coach breach the confidentiality code even with George’s permission.
Coach as catalyst
The coach’s role is to help George come to a decision as to how he wants to approach the issue with Sally. The coach should never keep George from owning their responsibility of discussing issues directly with Sally.
Not a messenger
Moreover, a coach is not a message carrier. For example, when I was called in to coach an abrasive manager called Maria. The abrasive manager’s boss, Peter, asked me to tell Maria that if she did not change, she would be fired. Had I accepted to be the message barrier with the positive intent of warning Maria that her job was at stake, I would have interfered with Peter’s management responsibility. It is Peter’s responsibility as a manager to communicate what behavior he accepted from Maria and what needed to change. The coach should not intercede by communicating for George what George wants to say to Sally.
Coach vs manager
Instead, it is the coach’s role to help George clarify what he wants to do, how he wants to communicate his message and what might happen if he does not tell Sally. The coach’s role is both to energize and support George to come to a resolution. It is not to take his role as manager even if George is apprehensive about talking to Sally and asks you to intercede. The coach’s role here is to support George to rise to the interpersonal challenge.
‘A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.’ John Wooden
Tips to determine what makes a person more coachable?
- Openness to feedback
- Having a sense of urgency
- Believing that coaching can help and that the outcome will be beneficial
- Having two contradictory needs and a desire to solve it
- Fearing there will be consequences if there is no change in behavior
- Having a challenge to overcome
Are you coachable? Contact us @ firstname.lastname@example.org to find out!