The dangers of coaching in the workplace


Whether in the professional field or in our personal lives, we all aspire to become better people. The drive to become better at something is what drives us forward, what makes our days exciting. If this innate human trait dies, life becomes dull and uninteresting.

It is not by chance the coaching industry is in such a good health today. The external and internal forces that push us to constantly improve, our own desire to excel in life, is stronger than ever. However, does coaching in the workplace really work?

There is scientific evidence that coaching can work, as explained by Professor Tomas Chamorro-Premzuic who teaches Business Psychology at University College London. If a knowledgeable coach is present to help motivate his or her “patient” to overcome bad habits and push through difficult times, beneficial change can follow.

However, there are also risks associated with the dominant coaching paradigm. Oftentimes, coaching experts focus solely on identifying and building the strengths of people. These strength-based approaches ignore completely the weakness that a person may have. Why is this a problem?

Focusing excessively on strengths produces unrealistic expectations in people who seek help. Even the most brilliant and innovative people have dark sides, flaws, imperfections, anti-social behaviors, weaknesses, etc. ! When coaches ignore this fact, they force their “patients” to live up to an unattainable image of success, thus perpetuating the frustration.

There is another risk as well. The strengths of a person can be driven to their extremes and turn into a weakness if trained excessively. A person who is already confident can turn into an arrogant person if this. A creative person, on the other hand, can turn into an eccentric oddball. A socially skilled person can turn into a manipulative person. You get the idea.

If the strength-based approach is so flawed, then why is it so dominant? Part of the reason is because it sells well. It’s not in the interests of the coach to identify the gaps and flaws of the persons. Why? Because people shy away from those who attempt to expose their weaknesses.

What is our stance?

At paperchance, we strongly share the conviction that only balanced, constructive feedback can produce long-lasting results. This belief guides us every day when we offer advice to people on how to improve their CVs and get their ideal job. It is not always pleasant to give feedback and tell a client that they may be doing something wrong. We do it anyway because we are convinced that in the objective and neutral feedback is more beneficial.

Source: Harvard Business Review (2016)