What does this mean? More often you hear of HR dealing with ‘problem employees’ and this can – too often I believe – lead to disciplinary if left to managers. Managers have ‘put up with’ badly behaved people or negative mind-set team members …instead of managing them! That’s their job to manage those problems, not just the goals and objectives! Managing a team to achieve objectives and targets is ALL about the people in your team!
Some HR consultants do deal with problem relationships in teams but is that their real job, their responsibility? On one hand yes, because it is, after all, a personal problem and they deal with human resources (people!).
Yet, their objective is to help the company with policies and procedures, systems and training that lead to conforming to the cultural norms of the company. People can’t always do that!
As a counsellor and coach, and person-centred focus at that, I know people are different and I know that some struggle to fill the company expectations because of strong beliefs, values that might not be fully met in a company/business setting v lifestyle choices. Every single person is different but often with similar issues – perhaps a definite variety of problems that can or will arise?
Conflict occurs when two people don’t see eye to eye; in a group setting, several people feel the same but the underlying issue is the one to one relationship…
So what could a coach do differently than HR or a team manager?
Because a coach understands the changing of mind-sets – change of (emotional) states and how this can be achieved using NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques), they can draw out the issues with a coaching process – asking pertinent questions, reframing comments and reflecting them back and challenging assumptions and judgements which is something people might not be fully aware they are doing.
Also, the underlying issues that lead the threat being experienced by both parties can be identified from a coaching/counselling perspective (in my case, having both skill-sets and experience) and then a solution explored together. The sort of underlying issues could be lack of confidence or self-esteem (not the same thing!), a ‘trigger’ the person is not aware of but has been a barrier for many years perhaps and it is now an almost instant reaction to simple comments or questions!
It could be related to personal values or beliefs that have been carried since childhood, implanted by parents or in education, and causing misunderstandings that harm relationships.
Such things are hidden until the button is pressed and then, all hell can break loose! If that’s at work, then it is neither helpful nor professional and can damage future opportunities and developments that would otherwise be of benefit.
Discord within a team, even between two people, can cause havoc! It distracts the manager’s time and focus from the objectives and tasks in hand for everyone, it delays necessary supervision to make way for mediation meetings or HR meetings perhaps, and it leaves others feeling confused, stressed and uncertain where things will be taken to that influence everyone in the team.
The company suffers because the team is split, the focus and motivation/momentum is being interrupted and the resources of leadership might also be affected by disruption and gossip that needs nipping in the bud!
Grievances might arise, which takes up time and costs money and energy for everyone involved directly or not. Sharing workloads, managing absences from the team office or customer care – the knock-on effect can be far reaching!
Coaching through Difficulties
Coaching is a process of drawing out the inner workings of a person (or two, in mediation); understanding how they got to their current situation and conclusions and what the options might be for them and each other.
Mediation isn’t just about ‘sorting out the problem’ but avoiding future problems too. The investment in any employee is quite immense from recruitment, selection, embedding and impact and then on top of that, the potential of repeating that if you ‘let them go’ as well as covering the absence, team discomfort, the forming-storming-norming before you get back to performing effectively can be years or months, but more than weeks!
Bringing in an independent coach means:
- They have tools and techniques you might not otherwise have access to
- They have experience of managing people’s minds and emotions versus practicalities
- They will disappear after the event, leaving the healed team to re-group in a short time
- There is no reminder from the manager or HR of previous incidents when the coach leaves
- It remains fully confidential, sharing personal, difficult issues with non-colleagues is easier
- They can come back and help others heal, manage or develop should this be an underlying problem for the company
- It introduces new perspectives and concepts HR or managers are unfamiliar with
- They have experience from other companies/situations that can help you here and now
- They bring a wealth of knowledge from life, professional and personal development
HR will take account of the company needs versus the employee(s) and this can be harmful as the quick fix, easiest route to resolve the issue – or hide it, lose it or ignore it. A coach will effectively explore, dig deeper, understand more in-depth anxieties affecting the relationship – and also be able to help manager continue to manage the team meantime, change how they manage these two (or one) ‘difficult’ personalities with deeper insight, and leave the manager free to support the team and achieve their goals.