Managers will frequently encounter challenging personality types in coaching sessions with professional adults. These challenging personality types can be discovered through client resistance, blocks, and barriers. The three most challenging personality types include:
- The Control Freak
- The Withholder
- The Pleaser
In order to ascertain early on whether or not a client will be one of these types, managers should employ a screening process. The screening process should be very thorough as it will help managers identify people that might be difficult to work with. Managers need to know as soon as possible who is right and not right for their services. The coaching process can be very difficult with frequent moves forward and backwards, so a solid screening process is very important. The screening process could include the following:
- Any changes since the last session, either personal or professional
- Thoughts about the last session
- Expectation confirmations
- Alignment with the plan
- Any new experiences that might have changed the client’s perception
Employees who are willing to look at themselves through open eyes are more apt to overcome roadblocks by engaging in various strategies and tactics. The most common resistance experienced by managers is with employees who have an inability to make a career choice. Typically, employees are experiencing job burnout and want to do something completely new. In these cases, managers should invest the time to explore interests, conduct research, and create a career roadmap; however, when it comes time to taking the first step toward actual change, these employees will panic.
Sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint exactly why employees start to panic. For some, it is the fear of turning their back on their investment in school and their on-the-job experience. For others, the panic sets in when they experience great pressure from their family to maintain the status quo. Managers will sometimes work with employees who simply do not have enough confidence in their abilities to believe they could make a positive change. In each of these cases, the goal is to understand the root of the client’s fear and begin to explore it one step at a time. The approach should involve discussing strategies and options that minimize risk and ensure greater success toward the final outcome. The more the managers can break down lofty goals into small, concrete steps, the more open the client becomes to the change process.
It is enormously valuable for managers to stay abreast of developments in research, developmental theory, and therapeutic applications involved in overcoming roadblocks, because by doing so, they can better prepare strategies to help their employees achieve their goals.
The Control Freak
Control freaks try to gain control and power from the manager in the sessions. They want to be seen as knowledgeable about most things in general. They interrupt, squelch ideas, and pass most things off as easy to do.
Strategy—Acknowledge Talents Using Respectful Language
Control freaks want recognition for their talents and act out based on insecurity. It is important to recognize their expertise in their specific field. This will appease any fears of appearing stupid, not having the appropriate skills, or making bad career decisions. Managers should not retreat from communicating recommendations simply to placate this personality type; however, they should also not insist on having the right answers. This will only result in a power struggle and no one will win.
Withholders do not share information that would help the manager do his or her job, even though it may ultimately benefit their situation. They may leave out simple facts, issues, or problems to hang on to perceived power or to make their situation appear better. The client may also be testing the manager’s abilities in order to trust them.
Strategy—Clarify, Clarify, Clarify
Managers need to ask clarifying questions when something is unclear or when given a mixed message. They should follow up each question with a statement clarifying why it was asked and how it is a benefit to the manager (i.e., representing the employee in the best way possible, etc.). They should pay attention to any perceived “red flags” and also be sure to clarify what the manager’s role is and what it is not.
Pleasers give information that they think might be appealing to their manager. Sooner than later they will have decided on a career direction without assessing or researching various possibilities. Solutions have sprung from ideas and opinions, not informed research.
Strategy—Slow It Down
Managers need to agree on the goal of the relationship with the employee. They need to spell out what steps need to occur and what discussions need to happen in order to reach the goal, and when the conversation veers off from the key point of the session, lasso the employee back in. A useful phrase managers could use is, “That’s an issue we should cover in another session. Let’s work on X to ensure that we address the key reason we’re here today.” Managers should ask probing questions. When employees are taking ideas as fact, it is a sign that they are ratifying the idea as the next action item. Managers should ask a question to halt this common phenomenon. For example, “Before we start talking about taking a job as X, do we know what skills are required?”