Unveiling the Challenges of Management Coaching (Part 2)

Feb 28


CMOE Development Team

CMOE Development Team

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In the realm of management coaching, leaders often encounter hurdles when attempting to guide employees towards recognizing and rectifying their performance issues. This article delves into the common pitfalls managers face and outlines strategies for fostering employee acknowledgment of problems, thereby setting the stage for effective behavioral change.

Understanding Employee Perception

One of the primary obstacles in management coaching is the discrepancy between a manager's perspective and an employee's self-perception. Managers may presume that employees share their view of a problem,Unveiling the Challenges of Management Coaching (Part 2) Articles but this is frequently not the case, particularly when the issue involves habitual behavior. Employees tend to act in ways they believe serve their interests. For instance, an employee who consistently arrives late might weigh the benefits of avoiding traffic or enjoying a relaxed morning more heavily than the drawbacks of tardiness.

A study by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) found that 86% of companies feel they recouped their investment on coaching, and 96% of those who had a coach said they would repeat the process, indicating the positive impact of effective coaching when done correctly (ICF Global Coaching Study).

The Pitfalls of Avoidance and Generalization

Managers may also shy away from coaching due to discomfort with confrontation, hoping instead that employees will self-correct. This passive approach often fails because it doesn't address the employee's positive reinforcement for their behavior.

When discussing performance issues, some managers speak in general terms rather than providing specific examples. This vagueness can leave employees unable to see how their actions deviate from expectations or differ from their peers. Detailed feedback is crucial for employees to recognize the need for change.

Targeting the Core Issue

A common misstep is seeking agreement on peripheral details rather than the central problem. For example, a manager might focus on the fact that an employee submitted late reports instead of addressing the underlying issue of meeting deadlines. The conversation should pivot from merely acknowledging the events to recognizing the pattern of behavior as problematic.

Crafting a Clear Mental Picture

To facilitate employee recognition of a problem, a manager must:

  • Describe the employee's actions, using quantifiable data and facts about their performance.
  • Clarify expectations in the area of performance being discussed.

Positioning these two elements side by side helps the employee visualize the gap between their behavior and the expected standard.

Balancing the Scale of Perception

Managers need to help employees understand the negative consequences of their actions. Before a coaching session, an employee's mental scale may be tipped in favor of continuing their behavior. The manager's role is to rebalance the scale, highlighting the negatives to make them more salient than the positives. This shift in perception is essential for gaining employee agreement that a problem exists.


Effective management coaching hinges on a manager's ability to align an employee's perception with the reality of their performance issues. By providing specific feedback, addressing the core problem, and rebalancing the employee's perception of their behavior, managers can pave the way for meaningful change and improved performance.

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