How to Coach the Undisciplined

In my career, I’ve been blessed to coach to a variety of personalities, strengths and work styles. I’ve learned that in most cases, there is no “right” and “wrong” way to be, and that different roles seem to attract different types of people. For example, sales people are more likely to fly by the seat of their pants and just wing it, especially if selling comes naturally to them. While it’s great that a person can quickly flex, a complete lack of discipline can harm the teammate’s individual performance as well as the team’s overall results. As leaders, we sometimes need to coach our people on those discipline extremes back toward the middle.

Tips on Coaching the Undisciplined

  • Give them structure and boundaries to follow.
  • When you meet, have an agenda for those meetings. Be specific with the information you want to discuss.
  • Share big picture goals to motivate them, but be sure to set weekly hit goals for activity. Frequently talk about how those goals connect so they see how their weekly activities support accomplishing the big picture goals.
  • Create routines, but don’t make them so rigid that life at work becomes boring. Help them think and act in the black or white.

While discipline is good, overly inflexible discipline is not. When people prefer to follow the processes no matter what, they can’t ebb and flow and grow to the conditions. When we’re overly disciplined, we make our decisions based on policies and rules instead of the problem at hand. We have a hard time serving, because sometimes you have to step out of the rigid box when it’s the right thing to do.

Tips on Coaching the Overly Disciplined

  • Give them a challenge to solve, and help them focus on the best solution for the people, team, and company (instead of relying on policy to resolve it).
  • Help them loosen up and think and act in the grey areas.
  • Hold a meeting with no agenda (this will drive them crazy!).
  • Stop production to celebrate.

Enjoy learning the different work styles of your teammates and coaching them to help them find the right amount of discipline they need to achieve their best results.

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