Uncoachable Clients & Assessing If Client’s Effectiveness Can Be Improved

Leland Sandler Coach San Diego

Uncoachable Clients & Assessing If Client’s Effectiveness Can Be Improved

Sometimes in the work I do, I come across a difficult situation in which, after the initial three or four conversations, I cannot help someone. It has to do with their willingness to change and their openness to confronting themselves. I recently talked with QuestFusion CEO Patrick Henry about what I do in these situations and if there is any way I can improve business for these clients. Watch the full clip here:

Patrick:     Do you run into situations like that where you think, “I just can’t coach this guy?” What do you do under those circumstances?

Leland:      You really have to help someone get to that choice point. My first alternative when you’re having a difficult situation is to deal with that difficult situation. If someone has been working with me, then I’m hoping the first question that they’re asking is, “What can I, the manager, do differently? What is it I’m not doing, or what is it that I have been doing that may have been contributing, even unconsciously, to this situation? What might I need to be doing now?”

Patrick, at the end of the day, you could do everything right, and it’s still not going to work if the person doesn’t want to move. If someone is so guarded that they aren’t willing to admit that they still have a blind spot, or a weakness or capability gap, then you’re not going to be able to help them. My goal there is to help you get to a choice point quicker.

Patrick:     It was interesting. I had another situation later in my career with one of the companies that I was running. I had an executive that came through an acquisition. It ended up being a very senior position.

I didn’t feel that he could accomplish everything that I needed him to do, so I got him an executive coach. It was someone that he liked. It was a dual decision.

This guy was an excellent guy, by the way. The assessment that the coach had at that point was that he was not going to be able to get from point A to point B where I needed him to be in any kind of reasonable time frame.

Those are always difficult situations. That’s life sometimes. Do you run into those situations, too? The ones where the guy is coachable, but in the time frame that you need me to get him in a certain place, I just don’t think that I can get him there.

Leland:      Yes.

Patrick:     How do you deal with that with that person’s boss or organization? What are the kinds of conversations? These are difficult conversations.

Leland:      These are really difficult conversations. I want to assess two things. Obviously, one is the individual. What is their current capacity? What are they capable of doing? What might they have some struggles dealing with?

You also want to understand both their current and their near future job requirement. What’s the level of complexity that’s a part of that requirement?

If the two don’t match up, the question is, “Can I help this person grow in whatever that time frame is?” We’ll say 3, 6 or 12 months. Can I help them get there considering the complexity they’re under, or are they truly just in over their head? They may one day get there, but not in the next few months. In that case, I’ll tell the person.

Then the challenging thing is that maybe we need to reset expectations about what you need that person to do. They may bring some great talent that’s useful to the company, but maybe their path right now isn’t the right path.

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