Walk with your co-worker through his several fears

April 22, 2007
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , — jonimar @ 5:00 pm

Q: Our team is rolling out a significant project and my colleague (who put the deal together) is suddenly fretting that we won’t make our schedule or budget.  I am confident about delivery but worried about his impact on the team, the project and client.  How do I address this?

A:  Your peer needs his concerns to be heard.  You can be an effective sounding board and keep the project on track.

Set up a meeting where he can verbalize his thoughts unedited for several minutes.  Resist your temptation to correct, comment or defend or he will feel unheard and need to cycle through his concerns all over again.  Remain detached and objective.  Understand what is underlying his concerns.

Once his anxiety has been diffused he can absorb new information.  Summarize and replay his concern back to him.  i.e. “I hear you’re saying….. am I correct?” Acknowledge a positive quality he demonstrated through his commentary.  i.e. “You are responsible and proactive.  Thanks for bringing this up.”  Reaffirming you are an ally and not an adversary.

Steer him to identify the root of his fear and to his own solution for it.  Be curious and interested.

Ask short simple open ended probing questions. i.e. “What was your rationale when you did your due diligence last month?  What’s changed?  What’s your biggest fear?  What’s our blind spot?”

Continually separate fact and fiction.  Redirect him to fact based comments whenever he “worries” about what he “imagines or fears” “might or could” happen.

Also tease out the truth or wisdom.  i.e. “Where is our greatest exposure?  How will we know we are off track?  What do you propose?”

Encourage him to document his ‘risk management’ solution.  He will feel both valued and relieved. You will have shifted him from being stuck in the problem to solution focused.

Originally printed in The Province, April 22, 2007.


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