Shut up and let me practice my people skills


We’ve all had (or have!) a manager/ report/ colleague who we can imagine saying this, or who acts like this. You know the person: they tell everyone else they need to ‘go get some coaching’ when it’s actually them who needs it most!

Despite meaning well, their leadership record is often punctuated with high staff turnover and can be littered with informal or formal complaints or grievances. Their team is often unhappy with lots of in-fighting or gossip. Opinions about the person are often polarised: some people really dislike them and are very unhappy and disengaged, but others love the ‘directness’ – and everything in between.

Ironically, they usually have the best intent and are often extremely and genuinely passionate about their job and what they stand for. Often they achieve great results and at least appear to have a ‘high performing’ team. They just come across the wrong way: very rarely is the person a ‘bad’ person, or a raging Narcissist or Psychopath.

“Doesn’t suffer fools gladly” seems to be permanently engraved on their annual PDP (Personal Development Plan), and “it’s your job, suck it up, get on with it!” is often their mantra (one client actually called & left me a message asking: “do you have a course called ‘get your head out of you’re a#se & just do your job’?” – true story!).

We also find that as they’re constantly pushing people to get the work done, the person can end up close to burnout. This can be tricky ground to navigate.

So what are the options and what can be done about it? 

We see these scenarios a lot – it’s a human thing, spread pretty much equally across the Public, Private and NFP Sectors. It figures in many of the Executive Coaching programs we run to one degree or another – and pretty much equally across male, female, and LGBTIQA+ leaders, and similar across different cultures, just to put gender, race, and other arguments swiftly to bed!

Interestingly, when these people themselves do get the developmental Executive Coaching [that they think everyone else needs!], after their initial scepticism and reservations, they do respond well. We’ve had really remarkable turnarounds in long-term behaviour patterns, where many people thought the coachee was going to be completely ‘uncoachable’!

I received a phone call a couple of months ago from a C-suite Exec in a large national organisation where we were coaching an peer-level national executive: as soon as I answered the phone, she said: “what on earth have you done with Alex*!? It’s amazing, he’s changed so much! Incredible!” [*Name changed for confidentiality reasons.]


Long term behaviour change requires time and effort, and generally some level of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) development to make these changes stick. One of the vital ingredients we’ve found in elevating an individual’s EQ is providing coaching that is coupled with a highly robust 360⁰ assessment to show them their blind spots –  in no uncertain terms. People usually need this explicit, unequivocal, often confronting feedback else they often don’t truly believe the problem lies with them and what they’re saying or doing. Without this, it usually takes longer to turn these behaviours around, if indeed people ever do.

We use the RocheMartin Emotional Intelligence 360⁰ assessment, as it’s simple for the coachee and coach to understand and interpret, and a good coach can quickly get the coachee moving forward and make a big impact early on.

One thing that’s critical with any 360⁰ assessment is for the person to have supporting Executive Coaching. This is essential to not only support the person emotionally with what can be very unexpected and distressing feedback, but also to get expert help about what tangible, real-world action to take to move forward and change their actual behaviour.


A 360⁰ assessment without supporting coaching is risky, even in a very supportive, open, communicative and understanding environment. At best, you get a person stunned by the unexpected feedback, paralysed into inaction for fear of upsetting people [again] and not knowing how to move forward. The person can sit there with the knowledge that people think they’re ‘rubbish’ but not knowing what to do about it.

At worst I’ve seen vindictive, retaliatory witch/wizard-hunts trying to single out the people who gave the feedback (and often picking the wrong person!). For all of the afore-mentioned reasons, as part of our own ethical business practices we very rarely conduct any 360⁰ assessment without the guarantee of an absolute minimum of 6 hours of supporting coaching, usually 12 or more.

We also usually take the coachee through our structured, robust, ROI-based 12-Step Coaching Process, where we interview the coachee and their manager on 1-3 key Objectives, and more importantly, the practical Measures of Success underpinning each of those. Then everyone has a clear direction for the coaching, and the coachee and the organisation get the maximum applied benefit in the workplace.

We match the coachee with the best coach they need (as opposed to want), using our unique Coach/Coachee Matching Matrix™ (we’ve never got a coach match wrong in 13+ years of using the Matching Matrix™!). We assess the match after the first session, and then at the 3rd session we check in with the coach to ask if the coachee is ‘Coachable’. This is a great accountability point for all.

If the coachee is declared “Uncoachable’ (which could be for several reasons, not just them being resistant, including needing counselling or skills training as opposed to coaching), then we stop the coaching, and the organisation is only charged for the time up to that point. This ensures the organisation gets the best value for money, and also holds the coachee accountable to make progress.

We often find that even the most resistant coachee puts enough effort in to get to the ‘Coachable’ point, then realises the coaching really IS a great benefit to them, which accelerates the coachee’s development.

If you have a direct report you think needs support and development, or are looking to develop yourself or others, get in touch to have an initial discussion. We’ll listen to what’s happening and advise if an EQ360 and coaching is the best course of action, or recommend an alternative if appropriate. All our programs are tailored to each individual and organisation’s needs.