Background I have a high performing direct report who recently told me she feels like she is “climbing the walls”. I used the coaching model in our 1:1 meeting to dig deeper into her comment. Purpose/Preparation The purpose of the meeting was to talk more about Susan’s comment and to see if we could investigate why she felt this way. She was feeling disengaged and her work was no longer meaningful. I wanted to use this opportunity to apply the coaching model and see if we could find the root cause and address it. Susan and I usually meet virtually as we work in different offices.
I was traveling this week and Susan and I were going to be in the same location. To prepare for this meeting and to better engage with Susan and build the rapport, I suggested we schedule some time for a face to face meeting. I set the context up front, and used mirroring, WIMI and active listening during the meeting. The preoccupation that I needed to let go of for this meeting was the fact that Susan is the top performer on my team. I needed to stop worrying that she was going quit if I could not fix the problem.
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I needed to make it about her and not me. Identifying Gaps I needed to think about the questions that I wanted to ask Susan so that I could be prepared to see her potential concerns that were not voiced directly. I also needed to make sure I got her WIMI. I decided to use some of question framing we learned in class. I asked her about feeling like she was “climbing the walls” and started by asking her to tell me more about that. She commented that she has been in the same role for three years and that she was starting to get bored.
She felt as if her job was now routine and not exciting. I asked her to tell me more about that and asked what an exciting role would look like to her. I also asked several additional follow up questions including what is most important. Area of focus Susan’s WIMI was that she was feeling as if she was not adding value to the organization. Because of the changes we have been going through post merger, she felt she needed more global HR development in order to be a more visible member of the team.
It took several questions for me to uncover the fact that visibility was her most important issue. Visibility was definitely something I could help Susan get more of, however, I was interested in what area she wanted visibility so I continued to ask questions. By doing this I learned that Susan had an operational view of HR and she wanted more visibility to her business partners on the client side. She had an idea that she could add more value if she learned each HR role surrounding the part of the organization she supported.
For example, she could do a rotation with the HR Generalist supporting her client and learn about employee relations issues. After that, she could rotate into the Compensation area that supported her client and learn about compensation challenges. Her solution to the problem of feeling as if she were “climbing the walls” was actually something that could benefit both Susan and the organization. She saw what she wanted to do and focused on it as a development opportunity. She came to the meeting with a problem and left with a potential solution she formulated on her own.
Now, I just had to help her execute. Action Plan We left the meeting with an action plan. Susan would write a proposal for a stretch assignment to do a rotation through our HR areas that support her client. In it, she needed to consider her current workload and how it could be supported during this rotation (the only true barrier). The proposal needed to include the functional HR areas she wanted to rotate through and how much time she wanted to spend in each area as well as the type of project she was looking to do.
We set a follow up date for two weeks in order to regroup and review her proposal. From there, we are going to create an execution plan. I am certain that we can obtain the support and resources for this project as our senior leadership values and appreciates continuous learning in the HR organization. I truly believe Susan’s proposal could be a pilot to a project that will continue to grow and create better HR people across the organization.