What to do with self-sabotaging people? How do you coach/deal with them? In my previous post (here) I explained that self-sabotaging people are basically stuck and not moving forward. They seem incapable of doing what needs to be done. Can you coach/manage someone like this? The answer is yes, if they are willing and, specially, if you are willing to put the effort required to unstuck them.
One thing first, if you can avoid the relationship altogether is a better course of action. Wasting time on somebody who is doing their earnest to destroy their lives is a bad bet. Remember that these people are masters are sucking up time and energy, so be wary of their games. But in the case that you won’t or can’t avoid it, then this are the actions that may help you:
- Determine what you want to accomplish: are you there to save a career, save a buddy or just make someone more productive? Your efforts should focus on that and not on solving everything.
- Recognize that you cannot change anything yourself, they need to do their own work.
- Be very clear about the boundaries in the relationship – define what you will do, what you won’t do and what you expect them to do, and even how to do it – did I mentioned that this requires a lot of time?
- Set clear goals, but focus on the short term. Giving them too many long term goals will cause them to procrastinate. Don’t give them that chance – keep it short and sweet.
- Set meeting guidelines. Your door should be open but be wary of too many unscheduled meetings or emergencies. Keep track of the time you are spending.
- Make sure they are doing their work and making their own choices. It is too easy to fall into the “I-can-solve-anything” mode. You are there to guide and mentor, not do their job.
One last thing, even if you do all of the above perfectly, there is a big chance that they will not respond or, despite what they say, perform what was agreed. So, be ready to drop them if that happens.