Part Three: 3 Questions to Consider for ‘Coaching Out’

The first two parts of this blog post addressed agreements and establishing communication boundaries. Now it is time to consider what to do if you are coaching someone out.

How do you handle coaching an employee out?

Information covered in the previous posts leaves the dilemma of a boss saying they did not want the employee to know that the company wanted the employee to quit. The coach faces the potential expectation that they “lead” a client in a specific direction, which is often considered unethical. Ideally, the client may actually have the goal of leaving, so the conflict is eliminated naturally. Perhaps the coaching process includes working with the employee to consider pros and cons of staying and of leaving.

What if a client/employee really wants to stay and the client/company really wants the client/employee out? Consider the options. Could the coach talk with the boss in advance and explain that because coaching does not include leading or deciding, there may be a need to consider approaches to the conflict? For example, if the employee does want to stay, the coach may ask the boss under what conditions, if any, this is possible and have the boss outline terms, (potentially unrealistic,) that may be communicated. The coach may ask permission from the boss to share with the employee that the company is ‘seriously considering’ or even ‘preparing for’ separation, and as a coach ask the employee how they would like to handle the potential separation. The coach may need to discuss with the boss the potential ethical conflict of not informing the employee that the company intention is to coach the employee out.

What questions might be useful in these conversations?

* What are the pros and cons of staying or leaving?

* What are the possible considerations of the employee / your boss?

* What is your best and worst case scenario? What is the most likely scenario?

* What is the ideal scenario?

The coaching may move towards skill development or improving workplace relationships; it may focus on change, transition, and new career possibilities; it may be limited to how to handle the current situation and prepare for next steps.

What are your recommendations for the coach?

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