The Client is the Expert7 April 2011 in Musings Write by Paolo Terni
Here is a short story that very well illustrates why I love Solution-Focus Coaching and its magic in bringing out clients’ expertise.
My Coaching Client is the Administration Manager for a small but fast-growing company, and we are having a Coaching session over Skype.
Topic of the session: he wants his co-workers to be “more motivated“.
I know that the concept of “motivation” is a tricky one.
Personally I am very skeptical about the whole construct.
However, operating under Solution-Focused assumptions, I am not supposed to share these recent insights from psychology with my Client. Even though the role of the “know-it-all” nerd fits me perfectly well, I have to bite my tongue.
As it often happens during tough moments in Coaching, I look at the card pictured above, that sits prominently on my desk. It reads: “Slow Down, Calm Down, Don’t’ Worry, Don’t Hurry, Trust the Process.”
So I did just that: I relaxed, got my hands off the steering wheel and let the Solution-Focused process unfold, one question at a time.
“Suppose your co-workers are more motivated. What would you notice? What would they be doing differently? What would you be doing differently? What else? Have there been times recently when your employees behaved in the desired manner?…”
The client answers eagerly the first questions – however, as we go into more details of how things would be different, I can sense his frustration. A sort of tension simmering.
At some point he stops and says: “I am wondering… maybe I got it all wrong.”
Me: “what do you mean?”
Client: “well… I do not think I need to motivate them. They are already motivated! It’s just that they like to work in a different way - each with his or her own area of responsibility rather than as a team! And to be working in this company as a team would mean a huge cultural change, given our history. This has got more to do with my expectation of how the company could grow in the future than with actual motivation or work performance!”
What an insight! Without me suggesting anything, the client got to the same conclusion as that of current cutting-edge research: you cannot “motivate” employees. You can only create the right conditions for them to be engaged in their work.
I looked once again at that card – and I smiled to myself.
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A friend of mine asked me why I chose the name briefcoachingsolutions for my website.
Easy: it is the shortest description for what I do.
Solutions: that is what my clients arrive at: solutions. For their goals, their needs, their problems. They arrive at better solutions. Faster. With less effort. Solutions sustainable in the long run because they are based on what is already working in the clients' situations it is also the description of my approach: solution-focused.
Coaching: that is the tool I use to help clients...