Managers need to develop and coach difficult employees with an open mindset and tone that is appropriate to the situation to create space for ‘hope, change or optimism’.
In fact, HBR article Overcoming the Toughest Common Coaching Challenges states that the type of mood you bring to and create in a development session has a big impact on what you’re able to accomplish. “Positive moods lead to more big-picture, ‘it’ll be ok’ thinking whereas negative moods lead to more analytical, critical thinking,”
Sometimes a positive tone isn’t appropriate. Perhaps it’s to address a situation that went poorly. The key is to think about what you’re trying to achieve. Then, when your objective is clear, match the mood to the task.
While this article is directed to managers or coaches wanting to develop or upskill their employees, the fundamentals around having an open-mind, clarity of goals and a fresh perspective to every session equally applies to mentors and valuable mentoring.
It offers some useful thoughts on managing particularly tough scenarios such as the person being pessimistic or defensive.