Module 9: Overcoming Roadblocks

Module Nine: Overcoming Roadblocks

It is common to encounter roadblocks during the coaching process. Roadblocks manifest in many different forms. Roadblocks, however, should not spell and end to the coaching process. You should expect roadblocks to occur. It is natural for it to happen because we are expecting behavior change, which that in and of itself is a task for your employee.

In this module, we will discuss ways to overcoming roadblocks. Some of the things you will learn are identifying common roadblocks re-evaluate goals and focus on progress. Roadblocks are not dead ends. They are warning signs that will help you identify when you need to intervene and get your employee back on track.

Common Obstacles

Coaching takes two people to accomplish. The manager must be just as engaged as the employee. Lack of zeal and honesty creates roadblocks that will hinder your employee’s ability to reach their goals. Here are some common obstacles we as managers create:

  • Do not have enough time to coach properly
  • Lack of confidence in coaching
  • Fear of confrontation
  • Feels awkward
  • Fear of failure in coaching
  • Afraid employee will not respond

Now, from the employee’s perspective, here are some common obstacles they may encounter:

  • Home/life issues are blocking progress
  • Fear of losing their job
  • Lack of confidence reaching the goal
  • Denial there is anything wrong
  • Poor relationship with the coach

Obstacles come in many different forms. However, the root of the obstacles typically comes from a personal deficiency in their life situation. Maslow’s theory of needs outlines basic needs we all must have in order to reach higher order needs. Here is brief overview of the needs.

  • Physical need
  • Safety need
  • Social need
  • Esteem need
  • Growth need

The basics of all needs are the physical and safety needs. If a person is lacking in either of these areas, they will find it difficult to progress further into the higher needs. For example, if you know your employee is having issues at home, their physical or safety need may be at risk, creating an obstacle to reaching a goal, which is a higher order need. When faced with a needs issue, try your best to acknowledge the need and guide them to a qualified resource to assist them with this issue.

Let us look at how to re-evaluate goals and realign the employee back to achieving the goal.

Re-evaluating Goals

As time passes from the original coaching session, you want to check in on your employee and see where they are at, in respect to the goal that was set. It is at this point, where you may want to re-evaluate the goal and determine if it is still SMART.

There are several things you want to take into consideration when re-evaluating goals. First, re-evaluating does not mean that you have to change it. Re-evaluating is an opportunity to check on the goal and to determine how your employee is doing in achieving this goal. Here are some steps you want to take when re-evaluating a goal:

  • Revisit the starting point. You want to review where you began. This way you are able to see if progress has been made and your employee is moving towards the goal.
  • Determine what has been accomplished. Look at what the current performance level is and compare it to the starting point determined earlier.
  • Review the amount of time left in respect to the goal date. You want to see if the amount of improvement is aligned with how much time has passed or how much time is left before the goal date is reached.
  • Determine if the time remaining before the goal date is adequate to fulfill the goal. Here you want to see if there is still enough time to improve and reach the goal.
  • If not enough time is left to accomplish goal by goal date, then set a new goal and goal date based on how much improvement has been accomplished and the time it took to get there.
  • If there is still enough time, set smaller goals to help the employee move towards the established general goal.

In overcoming roadblocks, you may need to be more flexible. Perhaps the goal originally seemed like a viable goal, but when put into practice it becomes apparent that you will not be able to reach it. Do not become frustrated. Be flexible and understanding of your employee if you have to reset a goal.

Focusing on Progress

If you find yourself with an employee struggling with reaching their goals, you may be tempted to pull them over and discuss how they are missing the mark and the related consequences.

Focusing on the negative aspects will only create more obstacles. Remember the hierarchy of needs mentioned earlier? Well, if you start making the coaching session feel more negative, the employee may feel that their job is threatened. If this happens, they will become more fearful and this adds to the roadblocks.

Instead of focusing on the negatives, focus on the progress. Tell your employee that you see progress and that you believe that they are able to make their goals. Speaking positively expands the employee’s belief about themselves. Use encouraging phrases like the ones here:

  • I know you are not quite there yet, but you managed to improve this much in such a short amount of time.
  • Your progress is steady and you are showing promise that you will reach that goal.
  • You showed definite improvement since our last discussion. I am confident you are going to hit this goal.

It is easy to speak into the positive aspects of progress. The benefits of focusing on progress could reap the following:

  • Increased communication between you and your employee
  • Build trust
  • Increase motivation
  • Goal is reached
  • Build good relationship with your employee
  • Employee’s confidence is boosted

You see if you speak positively, then positive things come out, but if you speak negatively, and then you will get a negative reaction.

Case Study

Bob knew that as a coach, he and the employee he works with may face obstacles. Upon first meeting Rory, Bob had feelings of doubt in his ability to coach him. Regardless, Bob continued without a hitch. Rory and Bob developed a good relationship. Bob eventually had to re-evaluate the goals that he and Rory had originally made. He found that while Rory was making progress, he was not making the progress in a timely fashion. After a few adjustments to their original options, they came to a solution that continued Rory’s progress and allowed him to reach his goal in time. Bob also gained confidence in himself as a coach.