Coaching A Coworker Above The Line

Article | Accountability Insights

by | Jul 3, 2013

How do you help an associate when he or she gets stuck Below The Line on an issue, problem, situation, or relationship, without offending or coming across as self-righteous?

We suggest you begin by asking this simple, yet focused, non-threatening question: “Why aren’t you making the progress (or improvement) you really want to make on this issue?” An alternate question would be “Why aren’t you achieving the benefits (or growth) you really want to achieve in this situation?” Listen for their perceived obstacles, stumbling blocks, barriers, and impediments. Encourage them to talk openly and honestly about how they perceive their circumstances. You may need to further enable them by asking: “What else is getting in the way of making improvement or achieving growth?” When they have had sufficient opportunity to identify and describe their perceived obstacles or barriers, ask one of the following questions: 1.) “Which of these obstacles do you most need to overcome, and why?” 2.) “What will happen if you don’t try to address and resolve these obstacles?” or 3.) “If your life depended on it, what else could you do to address at least one of these obstacles?”

Allow the conversation to flow naturally into a discussion of solutions (this may require multiple conversations). Remember, you’re trying to help them take ownership for at least one of their perceived obstacles, so they can start sincerely asking the question: “What else can I do to influence the obstacles and barriers that are hindering my progress (resolution of an issue or problem; improvement in the situation or relationship)?” Be patient but persistent. You can offer assistance, as appropriate and feasible, but don’t try to resolve things for them. Of course, you should plan to follow-up to see whether they are moving Above The Line and taking results-oriented actions.

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