Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spotting the "Uncoachables"

Interesting article from Harvard talking about how to spot people who can't be coached.  The author gives 4 symptoms to look for, but they basically boil down to one.  Does the person want to change?  If someone isn't interested in changing because they don't sense a problem, are burned out, or think everyone else is to blame, no amount of coaching will get them on the right track.  The author advocates walking away from these people.  That may be an easy option for a consultant, but it usually isn't for a manger.  Sometimes you can fire the person or encourage them to move on, but this isn't always possible.  Sometimes it isn't even desireable.  The uncoachable person may have high value in another aspect of their personality.  What then? 

The only viable approach when someone doesn't perceive a reason to change is to modify their attitude.  You have a reason you want them to change.  Get them to recognize it.  Note, however, that their worldview is not necessarily yours.  What motivates them may not be what motivates you.  If someone is overly sure of themselves, telling them their actions offend other people probably won't help.  They won't care.  However, telling them their actions put in jeopardy a promotion or their project or their ability to make an impact may.  Determine what their motivating factors are and couch your discussions in terms of those values.  Then, once you have convinced them there is a reason to change, work on the change.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes the best thing we can do is finding a place where the person influence on others is limited and his talents can still be exploited.
    Personally I've seen this kind of situation several times. I even decided to hire one guy knowing he won't be a great team player. However he suited to a specific position where he hasn't much to do with the rest of the team and his hacking skills appeared to be pretty valuable.