To Whom is a Conflict Coach Responsible?

I would never waste valuable work time on Facebook. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is dangerous. You can easily get wrapped up in discussions, completely work-related though they may be! One discussion question, posed by Cinnie Noble, conflict management coach and founder of Cinergy, was along the lines of: what if you have a client with whom you are meeting as a conflict coach and you learn early on that this person has no intention of resolving the conflict? In fact, this person intends to continue to fight until it gets him/her fired. What do you do?

This is a tough question, but not for the reason that many other coaches thought. The discussion was going round and round the issue of responsibility to the client. In this case, the “client” is not the coachee, but the employer who has hired the coach.

  • Do I report this to the client?
  • How do I not report this to the client/employer but still fulfill my obligations to them?

These are the wrong questions. For starters, you have no responsibility to the employer as far as those questions go. Your responsibility is with the coachee; it is with him/her that you are bound by confidentiality.  The process cannot work if this is not in place. The only way you are responsible in that regard to the client is if you had a contract stating that your sessions were not confidential and that the client was privy to the information disclosed.

By accepting a case with these terms, you’d be responsible – and crazy. You are not going to get the buy-in of the coachee. Rather than, “Should I report? Should I not report,” the real question is: “What do I do with this person in front of me now?” And again, it is a tough situation with no simple solutions. But as a coach, you have to be prepared to walk into situations like this; ugly things happen all the time.

The dilemma is easily solved by having the right contract in place. It must say unequivocally to the employer/client, “I’m not going to report much to you; everything is confidential. If that does not work, I can’t do what I do.” Any other arrangement really amounts to a spy mission, which I think is unethical. Coaches are supposed to be neutral third-parties who come in to help the coachee. It just does not work if the coach is, or is perceived to be, “in bed” with the employer.

You certainly do have a responsibility to the client/employer. danbarry cinemas chillicothe Your duty is to offer the very best process in order to assist with the resolution of the problem at hand. Any process in which confidentiality and your allegiance is in question, is problematic and can not live up to the potential of conflict coaching.

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