“What to do with a client that may have addiction issues” – Part – 6 Conflict Resolution

Executive Coaching and the Recovering Executive
“What to do with a client that may have addiction issues” –
Part – 6
Conflict Resolution
In his book, The Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution Dudley Weeks, Ph.D., has summarized Conflict Resolution in a way every coach can use . Often there is a long history of running from or creating conflict by the addict. I work with the coaching client on conflict resolution by introducing some simple outlines and directions. Without going into depth on Dudley’s entire book, in this slide I list the eight steps as I describe the typical meeting gone wrong:

The client/boss is dealing with the sales group dropping the ball on developing a new marketing campaign for a proposed new product within the time frame required by upper management. The client/boss calls a meeting for a specific time, which half of the group cannot attend. Because of the upper management pressure to make the meeting for the suggested time, many people including the client/boss could not adequately prepare for their presentations. The meeting could not be held in a conference room, so the client/boss has to have it in their office, where there are not enough seats, and the ‘territory’ has an impact on many attendees.

When the client/boss opens the meeting, the perceptions and goals for the meeting, are the groups needs to discuss what went wrong, the possibility of the group to successfully resolve the problem and the common goals of groups the to ensure this does not happen again, are not discussed as the client/boss doesn’t want to deal with the conflict that may come up. The client/boss fears the group will blame him for the failure, the meeting will run over the allotted time frame and therefore feels the need to control the conversations as the only way he knows to hold a conflict-free meeting. Placing little or no fore thought on creating a meeting in which the goals of the meeting can be embraced by all, the client/boss covers his tracks by ensuring that there will be no discussion on negative past conflicts, and chooses not to deal positively with conflict in the present or the future.

The result of the meeting is the goals that are the most important, are not discussed or resolved. The only goals discussed are that of the client/boss, only. The decisions that are made are what the client/boss wants to have happen and the attendees feel they have had no role in the decision making process. The attendees feel that the client/boss ‘shoves’ the problems resulting from the meeting onto their pile of ‘to do’s’ to accomplish. The attendees do not embrace the results, do not act effectively on completing their assignments and more conflict is produced.

How many of you have seen this scenario over and over again? Dr Week’s book examines using conflict to ensure conflict resolution. He clearly states to solve a problem (conflict) you have to embrace the problem (conflict). Many executives run from conflict or do not know how to adequately handle it, and being an addict, Just exacerbates the problem.

Fleeing from conflict, creating chaos and falling into old defensive routines are responses our coaching clients execute without thinking. When the coach can produce black and white, defined statistics and backed up by research found to change behavior, the client will benefit. The repeated training in using these tools is very important. It is my assignment to my client that before any meetings they follow the steps outlined in Dr Week’s book.

I mentioned briefly about Defensive Routines, avoiding conflict is a defensive routine. Procrastinating on completing the work that is assigned to you, because you don’t agree with the assignment is a defensive routine; ignoring or undermining time lines is a defensive routine. Going forward with the coaching client, defensive routines should be identified and discussed by giving the client the knowledge they need in order to not relapse into their old behaviors. Also, this information is important so the coaching client will not accept this type of behavior from others. Chris Argyris, a researcher from Harvard University has several books and journal articles on Defensive Routines, which anyone can review on Google.

Overall, what I have just described are the first few weeks of working with an executive client in recovery. I hope that you can recognize the similarities that are shared by an executive coach and in kind the characteristics that are shared by an addiction counselor. Recovery Coaching is a blend of both, and some times it is not. Recovery Coaching is a very interesting profession, a niche in the coaching realm that is just being developed.

I hope this blog can help the executive coach the tools any coach can use to break up the road blocks that a client might throw up in front of them?

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