Coaching a Know-It-All Direct Report
You are VP of Operations for a regional restaurant chain. Raymond works for you, overseeing six locations in one city. He is a hard worker who accomplishes a lot. You like his go-getter spirit.
But Raymond also exhibits a Q1 over-inflated confidence. He seeks autonomy in his job by keeping you at arm’s length. His justification is that he has things so well covered, there’s no reason to bother you.
Inevitably, though, problems do occur. However, Raymond’s Q1 tendency is to downplay any issues. That takes the spotlight off of mistakes. But it also means he shortchanges the review process that could provide insight for avoiding future difficulties.
Developing Raymond’s Potential
You feel Raymond has a promising future as a higher-level executive — if he can confront his Q1 tendency to go it alone. He needs to be a more collaborative problem-solver. As a Q4 leader, you want to have a coaching session with him about working together more effectively when problems occur.
What’s the most important thing you can do to begin your first discussion? How can you get Raymond’s buy-in for talking about how you should work together?
Of course, you must develop a concise statement for the purpose of meeting with Raymond, which is Answer C. In this case, it’s to “come up with procedures that will help the two of you work together more effectively when problems arise.”
But even more important to your coaching success is your communication of strong benefits. Raymond should know what’s in it for him, if he's going to fully participate in this discussion. If he isn’t motivated, he may show low receptivity, and even stonewall you.
The benefit(s) you state should be honest, but also be tailored to Raymond’s Q1 need for recognition and independence. “If you’ll invest in this discussion about how we can best work together, I’ll feel more confident about the autonomy you want in your job and be more assured in your abilities as a problem-solver.”
Whenever you need to coach a direct report, give careful thought to the benefit statement you’ll express up front. It’s not about the benefit to you or your company, but the one for the other person. A personalized benefit statement will go far in recognizing what’s at stake for your direct report to arrive at a solution.
As Raymond’s boss, you can certainly make him sit in a meeting while you tell him how he should behave in the future. However, his receptivity to your plan will be very low, especially given his Q1 behavior.
You are also missing out on the natural motivation that arises if your direct report develops the plan as an organic outgrowth of your discussion. In other words, have goals for your coaching session, but show the employee it’s in their best interest to participate. Allow the other person to use your probing to discover what needs to be done. Answer A is your best insurance that a Q1 direct report will not simply argue that there’s no problem.
This is certainly an important step. And you should think about how you want to construct that statement. It will help focus the other person on what needs to be confronted. However, even more crucial is showing your direct report the benefits for full participation in this important discussion — Answer A.