The senior manager was so brilliant that his bosses didn’t want to fire him. But he was wearing them out with his constant arguments and resistance to authority. They were hoping desperately that coaching would help him make changes.
Fortunately, his coach was Jocelyn Bérard, an expert in using 360-degree feedback to uncover crucial information prior to his coaching sessions.
Hard to manage
Feedback provided showed that the manager’s direct reports found him generally comfortable to work with, but when it came to his direct supervisor and other leaders, the problem was intense.
“Their comments in the 360 said that he was very argumentative, constantly pushing back at them,” Bérard recalls. “They said he’s very good. He’s a brilliant man. He’s successful. But boy, is he tough to manage!”
Bérard uses a personality traits assessment to supplement information about behaviors provided by feedback. “I find it very helpful in explaining the behaviors we observe,” he notes.
Bérard explored the problems with the manager using the feedback ahead of time and was able to focus on that issue in the coaching.
He suspected that the man’s resistance to authority came from how he connected with his parents. “So I asked, how was your relationship with your father? He replied that there was a pattern where his father used to try to force him to do things and then he would argue back.”
Bérard helped the manager see how that affected his work and his reputation internally. “He started out with attachment issues with his dad and in later years his relationship with his bosses was an exact replication of that.”
As a result of the coaching, the man was able to moderate his resistance, improve his relationship with his bosses, and save his job.
Bérard has heard people use the terminology less rigorously. “They may talk about ‘coaching’ when in fact they’re giving the person they supervise five minutes of reactions. They tell them, you’re in, you’re out, there’s not enough of this or that, et cetera. Sometimes they call that ‘feedback’.”
Coaching executives on specific issues should include at least 10 to 15 one-on-one hours with them. Lay the groundwork by using 360-degree feedback to assess them. Organizations need skilled leaders who lead and communicate effectively with everyone – including their own managers.