Framing Complaints may point to a solution
Working in a managerial coaching capacity people will come to you with a variety of problems, complaints and concerns. These vary from the work load, to management, to co-workers, to outside of work problems, etc… It is important to remember you are there to serve as a resource, not a therapist or psychologist. If the complaints and problems are too far outside the work and the proper manager employee relationship then you must recommend they contact their employee assistance program and get the help they need.
Most of the management and employee coaching problems that are work related can be solved through Solution-Focused (SF) coaching. As you continue to practice the SF tools you may realize that we all view situations in different ways. This difference can be powerful and helpful. Developing a multi-view frame of a specific problem will assist you and the person being coached to try different ideas of solutions that may or may not be effective.
“…complaints are usually rather complex constructions involving many elements, any one of which they may emphasize more than the others.” (de Shazer 1985)
Complaints Generally Include:
- A bit or sequence of behavior;
- The meanings ascribed to the situation;
- The frequency with which the complaint happens;
- The physical location in which the complaint happens;
- The degree to which the complaint is involuntary;
- Significant others involved in the complaint directly or indirectly;
- The question of who or what is to blame;
- Environmental factors such as jobs, economic status, work space, etc.;
- The bodily or feeling state involved;
- The past;
- Dire predications about the future;
- Utopian expectations
- Keys to Solutions in Brief Therapy, Steve de Shazer 1985 pp 27
- #8 has been changed from “living space” to “work space” to better reflect the audience of this article
Looking at the 12 areas that complaints generally include within a SF manager coaching frame, each is appropriate to examples within work-life. For example;
1. A bit or sequence of behavior.
- Example: Every time I meet with senior management I find myself tongue tied and incredibly nervous, it is really impacting my credibility with them.
4. The physical location in which the complaint happens.
- Example: The team cannot seem to make any decisions and is really stuck. The odd thing is this only happens in the executive conference room, outside that room they cannot wait to share their ideas.
12. Utopian expectations.
- Example: What I need my staff to-do is be able to read my mind and work as hard as I do.
Within the Solution-Focused coaching relationship you may find that more than one of these areas becomes apparent and with some practice and discussion most people tend to have a “favorite” factor they choose to emphasize in their complaints.
The next blog will share how to use how the person frames the complaint to co-discover a Skeleton Key that will point towards a useful solution.
What do you think?
How can seeing a complaint from a specific frame be helpful? What do you feel is the best way to coach & develop a person to work with or change the complaint?