It was never totally clear to me what the characteristics were of someone choosing to seek consultation. It wasn’t always an outright crisis, but sometimes it was because something had recently “blown up” and needed to be talked about. More often there were all kinds of mixed messages going back and forth, demands and nudges around job performance, and the need to address personal difficulties that might be underlying the workplace problems.
I will say I did notice that the absence of a mental health designation to the service being offered brought in people who otherwise were not inclined to do “counseling.” But what truly helped things be fruitful was having the session be about a problem (or problems) rather than someone’s underlying “issues.”
As I’ve said elsewhere many times, it’s the already pretty good managers and supervisors who have no problem talking with someone about a situation that needs to be dealt with decisively and well. They’re already good at describing the situation fairly, including their part of it, and they’re very interested in what someone else has to say that might be helpful.
It’s true that almost everyone has a tendency to frame things in ways that include lots of self-justification, yet all kinds of folks have recognized that obvious truth as they’ve moved along: made mistakes, learned, made corrections, updated their perceptions, etc. But even so, there are sticky issues that can’t avoid the personal dynamics underneath whatever the circumstances are that can cloud and distort seeing the right path ahead.
That’s why it’s true that, more and more, successful folks have their own coaches or consultants – private, personal, and confidential – to brainstorm with, ruminate, ventilate, speculate safely, be humble and less than certain with – as part of the necessary, truly helpful process of arriving at the best decisions possible.
It actually serves both the organization and the individual when that happens.
I don’t mind, and even admire, individuals who are skeptical, protective of their privacy, and generally committed to muscling their way through. It can work moderately well, especially if crucial learning manages to happen. But inevitably some situations ripen into serious complications, often added to by what’s happening on the home front.
To be able to talk productively about both domains with someone who knows the territory can turn out to be exceptionally helpful.