Commitment to Coaching

How can I deal with a manager who wants to improve their performance, but is failing to follow any of the action plan steps he’s created?

A good place to start would be to check on the commitment to coaching – does the manager want to be there, and has he really understood what coaching is all about? It’s a purposeful and outcome focussed conversation where the coach supports and challenges the coachee to make changes, but accepting that change might take the form of getting some new insight or learning about a situation, and/or taking action and behaving differently. You can’t coach someone who has been “sent” and merely goes through the motions to satisfy their own boss.
It would be worth exploring how important “improving their performance” is to this manager and specifically what might good look like/sound like/feel like for him and how would others see and experience it? Interestingly, psychology tell us there is usually some “payoff” for staying stuck and not committing to change, though this may not be immediately obvious and need some teasing out. Encourage the manager to look at things from different perspectives – what might be the consequences of improving performance for his team, the organisation, stakeholders etc. Realistically what might happen if nothing changes?
Finally the agreed actions might not be the most useful or helpful for this person. There is huge richness in unpacking the reasons why the coachee didn’t undertake their actions. Please do this in a spirit of curiosity rather than in a judgemental way and challenge and offer feedback if appropriate. Then look at what actions the manager will genuinely commit to undertaking to support improved performance.