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Two managers had interviewed a young man for an opening in the accounting department; the two managers would have to share the learner/employee because they had budget enough only for one new hire, although there was sufficient work for two assistants.

This young man was favored over another man, Brad, who was less articulate but brought to the job similar experience and skills. Both Therese and Mark still weren’t sure; although they both liked Norman, there seemed something wrong, so they asked Fannie to meet with him and Brad to get a third opinion.

Fannie spent an hour with each of the applicants, then met with her colleagues to share her opinion. She agreed that Norman was extremely articulate, but she pointed to something that neither of her peers had noticed in meeting with him:

He had never held a job for more than a year over a seven-year period. When questioned by Fannie, he had offered numerous explanations for leaving the jobs; in one instance, he admitted that he had been fired.

He explained that he disliked high-pressure situations and he had been fired when he was insubordinate to his boss.

Fannie admitted that Norman made a great first impression, but, as she sarcastically added, he should. “He has had lots of practice interviewing for jobs.” “And,” she added, “I don’t know if he will stick around her.

He has unrealistic expectations about how quickly he can move up in an organization. When he discovers that he can’t be CEO after a month with the company, he will likely get wanderlust again.”

Brad didn’t fare any better. Fannie had asked him questions designed to get some sense of his flexibility, which is critical when one is working for two managers. “Brad has a better job record than Norman,” Fannie said, “but I think he would have a hard time in the kind of unstructured work situation the job you have entails.”

Fannie suggested that the two managers pass on both candidates and take a little longer on their search.

Mark was willing to try to make do with Brad, working around his deficiencies, but Fannie made a good point: “The best way to prevent having to spend considerable coaching time with an learner/employee, let alone deal with a problem learner/employee, which could occur with Brad, is to select someone with every reason for succeeding on the job.”

To do otherwise would ensure that both of her colleagues had headaches down the road.

Allowing disorientation to continue

Coaches who neglect to orient a learner/employee or postpone orientation may find themselves with a potentially effective learner/employee whose work is starting to flounder.

Such learner/employees are off track because no one has taken the time to put them on the right track by clarifying the performance level expected of them or filling skill gaps first identified during recruitment but neglected in the hurry to get them to work.

Learner/employees shouldn’t be forced to fill the gaps in either expectations or skills by trial and error.

The likelihood is too great that they will make mistakes, injure their self-confidence, get reputations as poor performers, and become subjects not for coaching but for counseling.

Making implied promises

Many coachess make the mistake in coaching of suggesting that added effort on an learner/employee’s.

A broken promise can undo any improvements in the performance of the learner/employee as well as cause you to lose your credibility with both your staff and the learner/employee, who will tell all how she was fooled by you.

Sometimes, when coaching, in order to leave an learner/employee with no misunderstanding, you may even have to raise the issue just to squash it.

Coaching management styles when coaching doesn’t work

Good managers, like good coaches, practice situational management, adapting the degree of direction they provide learner/employee to their experience and self-confidence and to the nature and importance of the task assigned.

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