Talk to All, or Just One?

Written by Pam Chambers

When should you provide group coaching and when should you provide individual coaching? Is it important that everyone hear the same message in the same way at the same time? Or, does the situation warrant a one-on-one conversation?

When you think about an athletic team, its easy to imagine when the coach might address the entire team at the same time. The coach may:

Identify a skill the team needs to improve

  • Describe the strengths and weaknesses of their next opponent
  • Analyze what went wrong during the last game
  • Praise a player for exemplary sportsmanship

It would be inefficient for the coach to have private conversations about those matters. But there is a place for private coaching, such as when the coach needs to:

  • Help a player master a specific skill
  • Correct a detrimental attitude
  • Assist a player with a career choice

Thats athletics. Lets talk about your business. What types of conversations should you have with your employees in a group setting? Some groups, such as the housekeeping staff at a resort, have daily pre-shift meetings. So do restaurant managers and servers. A law firm I worked with has staff meetings once a month. Other firms meet weekly. At times, an all-hands emergency meeting might be required. Some organizations hold off-site annual retreats. These situations fill the need for everyone to hear the same message in the same way at the same time.

Here is what happened with one of my clients. Ann, the human resource director, was leading a new employee orientation for twelve people. They were all supposed to have read portions of the employee handbook and have questions ready for discussion. When Ann called on one of the new employees, the young man admitted that he had not done the reading. Ann expressed her disappointment and exasperation in front of everyone instead of taking him aside for a private discussion. Everyone felt uncomfortable and Ann was perceived as a threatening authority figure.

Recommendations

Each seemingly small tweak or major overhaul requires your thoughtful consideration about how, when, and where to deliver your message, and to whom.

Im thinking of my client, Marci, who needed a solution for a sticky situation. She was the owner of a local publication that sold print ads. Some of her customers were complaining that their account rep, Tad, had bad breath every afternoon. But, Dont tell him I said anything!

Marci became a sleuth and learned that the culprit was kimchi from the lunch that Tad ordered every day. Rather than singling him out, she decided to gather everyone together as a group. Hey, guys. I know we like to grab our lunch at We da Bes Sandwich because its convenient, cheap, and ono. But we work in close range with each other and our clients, and people might not like our kimchi breath. So can we all ditch the kimchi from our lunches? Ask for more shredded carrots instead? Thanks!

This problem was solved in a lighthearted way and no one had to lose face.

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