Dealing with Defensive Employees in Business Coaching
Negative Feedback is Necessary but May Cause Issues
Providing business coaching to a person or employee will often involve giving negative feedback. Whilst some may embrace the feedback, particularly if they respect the coach/manager and are keen to learn from them, others are likely to resent being given what they perceive to be criticism, and so are likely to become defensive.
A Skilled Coach/Manager Can deliver Negative Feedback Without Arguments Starting
When this happens, or more preferably, before the person becomes defensive in the first place, it is important that the coach retains control of the coaching session and prevents it from turning into an argument or shouting match as this will benefit nobody. In order to do this a good business coach will not only ensure that they deliver constructive negative feedback with specific examples rather than simple generic criticism, but that they will also keep their tone of voice calm and with a sense of willingness to help. If the feedback is delivered with a tone that contains anger or is given in a condescending or belittling way it is highly probable that it will get the person's back up and cause them to go on the defensive. If this happens they are far less likely to take on board the points which the coach or manager is making and so will not be able to alter their future behaviour or actions in accordance with what is being said to them.
Just as with all business coaching sessions, a meeting where feedback is given should end with a positive outcome, with the employee taking on board the points and then working with the coach to develop an action plan and targets which they can then set about implementing when they are back in the workplace. It will be up to the skill of the business coach to ensure that this outcome occurs.