There is more than just black and white when it comes to alternatives

During a recent coaching call with an European client (Direct report to CIO at a financial institute) we discussed his challenges between staying in touch with his employees and being present at current strategic initiatives regarding the future of their IT department.

His wish: Attend the weekly group meetings (4 different groups in his department) as he used to do it. Due to his work overload he stopped attending the meetings a few months ago.

Can’t see the wood for the trees

His black and white approach: Either I attend all meetings every week for the whole duration of the meeting or I don’t do it at all.

He was not happy with both options, but he did not see any other alternative. It’s the “can’t see the wood for the trees” problem.

He discussed this situation with his group leaders, but they got no solution. Again the wood/tree problem.

This is an easy example, where coaching can help immediately.

The coaching question

The simple question: “What else can you do?”

The answer: “Attend one meeting per week for 30 Minutes”. That’s going to be his solution for now. It is not the best solution at all, but it will help. “Attending only for 30 Minutes” will be communicated to all employees before the meeting starts, so they know he’s not leaving because he’s not interested, but because of his workload.

He will run this for the next 2 months to get everyone used to this new approach. It needs some time to get people used to new behavior. I’m sure everyone will benefit from it – and it only costs him 0.5 hours/week instead of 4 hours/week!