Saturday, June 09, 2007

Ms. Theologian Recommends Coaching

Dear Ms. Theologian,

One of my employees made a completely inappropriate comment to an executive during a training session. It wasn't anything offensive (sexist/racist etc), just obnoxious and unprofessional. She brought him down a notch but he has sort of blown it off as just a bad joke. I did tell him it made me cringe and that he needs to watch himself.

He has a history of this sort of thing--jokes in poor taste, self-aggrandizement, and "missing the point." However, our department is moving towards interacting more with our clients (in fact, that's what the training class was about) and I have serious reservations about letting him interact with our clients. My manager has also expressed concerns.

However, this guy is jumping in enthusiastically with both feet and has already done a conference call with our biggest client by scheduling it before he consulted me. It took me hours of work to coach him to a point where it wasn't a complete disaster. It actually came out rather well, but there were moments when I wanted to crawl off and die. Short of beating him over the head, what can I do to head off some of his more egregious missteps? I can't tell him not to interact with clients since this is a major initiative in our group and he's just doing what (he thinks) he's been told.


This is why I hate management. Please kill me.

Dear Please Kill Me,

You are doing exactly the right thing. You could ship him off to a manners workshop, but Ms. Theologian isn't really convinced that one-day trainings that requires changes in attitude work.

Instead you are coaching him. And read this post on coaching from 2006 in which Ms. Theologian defined coaching as:

Employee coaching can be done when employees are properly and fully trained, but their actions have ethical or legal ramifications, they are repeating behaviors that cause them to fail, or they are not functioning well as part of the team.

After emails back and forth with you...I'd say that describes your employee perfectly. You could also take it up a notch to mentoring, if you wished, but keep up the coaching.

-Ms. Theologian

If you'd like to write to Ms. Theologian, send an email to ms dot theologian at gmail dot com.