No Show! Really? Part 2: Coaching Skills to Find the REAL Answers!

iStock_no show (800x585)It happens. The client that seemed so motivated and ready to go a few weeks ago just “no showed” for a critical job interview or admissions interview for a great educational/training opportunity. While many “no-shows” can be predicted in light of the client’s level of interest and engagement in the early stages, there are some that may take you by surprise because they seem out of character with the messages that you have been getting so far. Either way, how you help them move forward from this apparent failure is even more important than the missed opportunity.

Step #1: Find them: Sounds crazy but this may be the hardest part and for very good reasons. If your client has been tracking positively all along and then suddenly goes off the rails, you may be the last person they want to see. Assuming that they didn’t get abducted by aliens, it would be natural for them to go into hiding so they won’t have to face you or the threat of policy sanctions if those apply. This is the classic human ostrich response that says “Whew! Safe!” when our heads are buried in the sand but our butts are hanging out there for all the world to see. They are probably embarrassed, ashamed or just confused. Find them and talk them off the ledge. It’s not the end of the world unless they don’t face the reality of what has happened and even more importantly – understand why.

Step #2: Diagnose the Issue: Find out what happened. Be prepared for a “tactical” response. For example, the babysitter fell through, the bus was late, they had the wrong date, a family member had a crisis, etc. The immediate answer to “why did you miss this” is seldom the real answer – even if there was a breakdown in logistics somewhere along the line. Allow them an opportunity to explain, but try to get to the internal conflicts that may have set up the entire tactical failure. In coaching a client around a “no show” event, it’s important to get past the red herrings of “the bus was late” type of responses. When you consider how much support is made available in social services for child care, transportation, interview clothing, etc., there are few external barriers that we haven’t anticipated and addressed. If they didn’t show up in spite of all of this assistance then we really have to change the direction of the discussion.

Step #3: The “Wild Horses” Discussion: One way to change the direction of conversation is to have them recall a time in the past when they “showed up” for something that they were excited for, planned for and were so ready for that “wild horses could not have kept them away.” It may have been a graduation or awards ceremony for something their child accomplished. It may have been an event marking a religious or spiritual rite of passage. It may have been some other personal and pivotal event in their lives. While this event may have nothing to do with anything related to this situation, recalling this is key to getting them to emotionally connect to that feeling of determination and expectation that may have led them in the past to declare – “I’m not missing this for ANYTHING.” If you can have them successfully connect here, it will open the door for the next hard question which is “How was this interview different.” Expect to hear the sound of crickets when you ask this one. This is the last question that they will expect which makes it the perfect question to ask. Going down this road may lead you to some of the internal fear and angst that may have shattered their confidence and set up the entire “no show” event.

The key to getting different results with clients on different roads to re-entry really lies in developing the coaching skills to change the conversation from what went wrong “outside” to what went wrong “inside.” For more information on training to build coaching skills on your team check out
NEXT WEEK: No Show! Really? Damage Control!

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