In principle, we dont want to give up coaching employees. We want to believe that we can eventually make a difference. Sometimes its our own ego that drives our persistence and determination.
In reality, if we have followed the coaching process, we have honored our stewardship as a coach. This is especially true if we have followed the process for a significant period of time. However, coaches often make the mistake of staking their pride and confidence as a coach on one or two challenging situations. This can be dangerous! It would be nice to believe that we have that much control over another human being. However, everyone has the right to choose their own destiny. We cant force change; we cant even motivate someone else. But, we can clarify, explain, explore, highlight, recommend, and encourage. When coaching employees, we have to decide when to back off, and let the situation either improve or deteriorate.
For years, CMOE has advised coaches to follow-up and be persistent a little longer than expected. Coaching employees takes patience a lot of patience! But, dont be unreasonable. If the topic permits, allow some time for the right decisions and actions to kick in. When dealing with policy, ethics, values, safety, or legal issues, explain the timeline to the coachee. We are not suggesting an ultimatum. Just explain the time sensitivity and create a time boundary.
Check in frequently with the coachee to see how they are doing, and remind them of the timeframe. If there is insufficient responsiveness or progress, this may indicate a lack of judgment, character, integrity, or indifference. When these signals arise, do a quick reality check:
Have you diagnosed the situation?
Have you tried all of the coaching skills?
Have you involved others in an appropriate way?
If you answer yes to these questions, then you need to look at your next best option to a coaching solution.
Alternatives to Coaching Employees
1. Discuss the dilemma with the coachee. Ask for a recommendation or solution.
2. Redefine roles and responsibilities.
3. Consult with your own manager.
4. Seek good counsel from HR professionals.
5. Actively administer and institute the appropriate consequences, both positive and negative.
6. Explore a completely different assignment for the coachee with a different boss. Inform the new boss of the situation from your perspective.
7. Explore, with the coachee, whether or not he/she is a good fit for the organization. Know when enough is enough.
Coaching employees takes time, energy, and patience. The bottom line is that you cant let your big coaching challenges pull you down. Remember that it takes two to tango, and influence has its limits.