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Deflection Devices: When Direct Reports Go Nuclear and Suggest You're The Problem...

If you're the manager I think you are, you're not hiding from providing feedback and coaching to your direct reports.

But a funny thing happens on the way to you being manager of the year. Your people may not take the coaching - they may have reasons why they're doing what they're doing. Hazmat

In the BOSS Leadership Series Coaching Module, we call these things SIDETRACKS.  You attempt to coach, and the reasons/excuses roll back to you from the direct report.  As we discuss in the BOSS series, these sidetracks include variations of the following:

--What about them? (Others are doing the same thing)

--What about you? (You're doing the same thing, or preventing them from resolving)

--My tools suck! (I don't have the systems/support I need to do it)

--The customer/client sucks! (it's impossible to deal with the situation)

--My life is messed up! (I have a lot of sh#t going on. Wanna hear about it?)

All of these sidetracks can be dealt with by acknowledging them when real and coming back to personal accountability regardless of the challenges.

But there's a more serious item you have to be ready for as a manager when giving feedback for improvement to your people. I call them Deflection Devices and they're harder to absorb than the sidetracks listed above.

Deflection Devices go beyond normal coaching sidetracks. Deflection devices are designed to sting the manager directly, and to make you think twice before you coach again.

Deflection Devices are designed to place doubt in your head as a manager, to make you feel substandard. They're mean and if your direct report uses them with you, designed to MAKE YOU COACH LESS BECAUSE YOU DON'T WANT TO BE FRAMED IN THAT WAY.

How's it happen? Easy. You're coaching a person on your team, and they decide to "be transparent" and give YOU HARD FEEDBACK. Common nuclear Deflection Devices include the following:

--You're weak and get run over in the organization

--You're a political animal in a negative way

--You're a micromanager

--People talk about you in less than glowing terms behind your back

--You don't have the background to managing the function you're managing

Deflection Devices go beyond the normal "what about you?" sidetracks. They're designed to feel personal and signal that the real problem is you at a deep level - not them.

It takes an aggressive sort to drop a nuclear deflection device at you while you're having a performance/coaching conversation of any sort. 

Don't give in - if anything, coach harder, my friends. Put on your HazMat suit.

Comments

jessica lee

this resonates with me a ton. it’s very real. you’re right. you can’t give in.

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