Anyone had experience of coaching a Direct who is very capable but lacks confidence in their own ability?

I have someone like this at the moment and I would appreciate any experiences you have had in dealing with this situation. Suggestions regarding exercises/asignments I could set to coach on this would be really useful. Thanks

mattpalmer's picture

I've got people who display a number of different behaviours that could all be taken as "lacking confidence in their own abilities".  One person often asks me about a decision they want to make, to double check it, when I know they're more than capable of doing the analysis and coming up with an awesome answer (in some cases, one I hadn't even considered).  Another person on my team can't take a compliment to save themselves -- actually, I've got two different variants of that, both the "awww shucks, it was nothing" and the "no no, you don't understand, I did a terrible job on that because I made a mistake on X and Y".

Now I write all that down, it makes my team sound like a bunch of neurotic crazies.  They're not, though.

My point is that different behaviours need to be handled differently.

For the person who likes a second opinion, I just don't offer one -- I reassure them that I trust their ability to make the right decision, that I'll back their decision even if it turns out to be suboptimal (because I also know that if this person made a mistake, they would move heaven and earth to make it right), and I give them positive feedback when they make a decision themselves, and also when a decision they made comes off well.

On the other hand, people who can't take a compliment are a little harder, because that's a bit of a deeper psychological issue (I suffer from it too).  In that case, all I can recommend is to encourage them to practice giving a smile, looking the person in the eye, and saying "thank you".  That's it.  If you're looking for coaching goals, make it a goal that by 30 June, you'll have given them compliments for 30 days without hearing whatever self-deprecatory boilerplate they prefer.  Resources are a lot of practice, and maybe some books on self-confidence or something.

Gazman's picture

Great thanks for the advice Matt. I particularly like your refusal to give a second opinion and assuring your direct that you will back them whatever the outcome.