We have found that due to the level of investment the organization is making in the employee, there is often great curiosity from the myriad of stakeholders about the pace, nature, and sustainability of changes in the coachee’s behavior. This is where it can get tricky. The time frame for seeing behavior changes is typically longer than a manager and other stakeholders are willing to wait, since presumably they have already invested in managing the employee’s performance. It is the coach’s responsibility to manage expectations around this; the behaviors that are not working did not develop over 120 (or insert other arbitrary time horizon here) days, and the organization should not expect changes in behavior to occur that quickly either.
Lastly, it is essential that the manager be part of the solution here. In this scenario, the coach should expect to spend some time coaching the manager, who sometimes is an unwitting accomplice to the behavior he would like to see the coachee change. Often, at least one conversation about the importance of setting clear expectations and holding the coachee accountable is warranted.
In addition to the outcomes already discussed, there are some unique outcomes of performance related coaching. Through coaching, the coachee may come to understand that the reason for the performance gap is that there is a disconnect between his skills and interests and what the organization is asking him to do. The coaching conversation would explore possibilities for addressing the disconnect, perhaps by finding a role that is a better fit within the organization, developing missing skills required by the current role, or exploring options outside of the organization that better utilize the coachee’s gifts. The return on the investment in coaching would be a more contented, and therefore productive, employee; an opportunity to reduce the cost of remediation over the long term; and/or the ability to focus investment on developing employees who fit well with the organization mission and culture.
So you see, there are nuances in how we as coaches serve our coaching clients and the organizations they are a part of, depending on how they present to us. The nuances are important for us to acknowledge and plan for so that there is a clear and sustained benefit to all parties. Finally, the aim of our coaching remains the same in any case, that is, to help our clients step in to their own magnificence.
i Rather than use “his or her” throughout this article, I will alternate usage of the male and female pronouns.