Untangle and grow

A blog by Alison Maxwell

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Working with ‘Problem children’ – issues in coaching

Don’t get me wrong I love coaching 1-2-1 but have learnt to be wary when I’m asked to work with an organisation's ‘problem child’ – that person who doesn’t seem to quite fit in, or whose behaviours have ruffled feathers. “We need you to work with them” is often code for “We need you to fix them for us so they fit in”

My concern about this sort of request is that it puts the focus solely on the ‘problem child’ as opposed to the relationships at work. It is unfortunately all too common for example, to find that the ‘problem child’ has never had direct feedback and that the team they form part of have never had courageous conversations about how they are working together. In this situation the coach risks becoming some sort of surrogate for conversations that really ought to happen at work.

The most effective coaching assignments are those where the work includes the wider team rather than a ‘fix it’ conducted in splendid isolation. Coaching can’t afford to be the outsourced difficult conversation. Views? 

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