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Preventing defensiveness

Preventing defensiveness

CASE STUDY 9-3 Preventing Defensiveness

Spencer, Jeff�s manager, needs to talk to Jeff about his poor performance over the previous quarter.
Jeff enters the room and sits across the desk from Spencer.

Jeff:Spencer, you wanted to talk to me?

Spencer:Yes,Jeff, thanks for coming by. I wanted to talk about your performance last quarter.

(Spencer�s phone rings and he answers it. Five minutes later Jeff is still waiting for Spencer. Jeff finally
gets frustrated and Spencer notices Jeff looks at his watch several times.)Sorry for the interruption Jeff, I
know it is frustrating to be kept waiting.

Jeff:I am very busy. Can we get on with this?

Spencer: Yes, absolutely. As you know you had some problems meeting all of your goals last quarter.

Jeff:Now wait a second. I met the most important goal.

Spencer: Yes, you did, but you missed the other four.


Jeff:Just by a little, and it wasn�t my fault.

Spencer:Jeff, you need to accept responsibility for your own performance and not push blame onto
others. You need to meet your goals this coming quarter or I will have to take more serious action.

Jeff:One bad quarter, and you threaten to fire me? I can�t believe this!

Spencer:Just meet all of your goals, and I won�t have to take that action.

Then answer the following questions:

1)Identify and evaluate the actions that the individual could have taken to handle the issue of
defensiveness, as presented in the case study.

2)As managers and leaders, we understand the importance of a good coaching relationship, the central
role of the employee as the source and director of change, understand employees as unique and whole,
and realizing that the coach is the facilitator of the employee�s growth. Yet barriers are present. Moving
beyond the obvious, how does a coaching relationship affect cultural transvergence?


Managers and leaders in general encounter incidences that denote unusual behaviors that
are negative to business growth. Such behaviors may include defensiveness. Defensiveness is
whereby, an individual tries to evade the mistakes they did and tent to blame others for their


mishaps. Lloyd (2010) acknowledges that; defensiveness is a common behavior even as
unacceptable as it is. It is therefore, crucial that managers and leaders adopt ways of dealing with
this kind of behavior. In order for managers to be able to tackle the issue of defensiveness as
demonstrated in the case, it is crucial that they understand the underlying factors behind the
defensiveness. This view emanates from the realization that, defensive behavior does not start
the moment an employee is faced with a confrontation or at the time of discussing an issue.
Rather, the defensiveness behavior originates from other unsolved issue.
Nowack (2014) maintains that; it is crucial that managers give undivided attention to
employees when they are tackling important issues. For instance, when the manage takes long in
answering a call just after commencing a serious conversation with the employee, the employee
feels neglected and it is no wonder that he develops defensiveness. It would be crucial for the
manager to give the necessary attention, for instance, by not answering the calls while at the
conversation. It would be crucial for managers to coach employees such that they have high self
esteem. This view emanates from the realization that; with high self esteem, it would be difficult
for the employees to develop defensiveness as demonstrated by Jeff. Hough (2011) clarifies that;
even the employees with very low or negative esteem could be helped in coaching to develop
positive self esteem. This view emanates from the realization that; when one has high self
esteem, it is not easy for them to develop defensiveness when they feel threatened; rather, they
are able to defend themselves in a positive manner.
Coaching relationship is a very cruel aspect in management. Its positive effects may not
be well understood with its presence, but in its absence, the adverse effects make people realize
its importance. As it is understood, many firms have taken different approaches to issues
especially those emanating from cultural differences. In the wake of globalization, there have


been many issues concerning cultural diversity which, if managers do not address well, there is
bound to be problems that are likely to flow in the smooth operation of business. In the cultural
transvergence approach, there is deep transformation of firms due to the advantages tied to this
approach. It is in view of these notions that coaching relationship is said to affect cultural
On basis of coaching relationship in addressing cultural diversity, it is necessary for the
coach to understand basic issues point to positive transformation. This idea emanates from
consideration of the fact that cultural transvergence entails incorporating the different traditions
with new technology due to the realization of the varied advantages associated with each factor
and the benefits of their combination. On basis of this approach therefore, the coach must come
up with ways of ensuring that everyone is comfortable not just with others; traditions but first
with theirs. Dwivedi, Kaushik & Luxmi (2014) note that; if an employee is not comfortable with
their own cultures it will be difficult for them to appreciate the culture of others or that of the
The other crucial perspective of coaching relationship that affects cultural transvergence
touches on the ability of the coach to guide the employees in understanding their self esteem but
most importantly in changing the low self esteem or the ones with negative self esteem. Burris
(2012) asserts that; there has been realization that most coaching fail, not because, there have not
been detection f the individuals with low self esteem, rather because, the coaches have
tendencies of just point to the low self esteem and not pointing out to the way out. It is crucial to
note that; when coaching is done with articulation of important factors such as those that support
cultural transference, it is usually very effective. For the coaching to be effective in cultural
transvergence, there must be understanding of the need for the transformation.


The coach must be able to interpret the transformative needs and perspectives.
Understanding transformative interpretations is very critical because; without it, it would be
difficult for the coach to combine traditional and institutional changes. It would be easy from
such a coach to fail in one area or both. When the coach has not articulated those crucial areas
well, it is a futile attempt to try to initiate such changes in the subordinates. On the other hand, if
the coach understands the perspectives of cultural tranvergence well, it becomes easy to initiate
changes in the business in a manner that leads to new business strategies. When such changes
come through coaching, they are easily embraced since the subordinates are part of the idea and
they therefore will offer their full support. Integration of cultural transvergence in implementing
such ideas will then transform to positive results and the business continues to grow.



RESPONSES TO EMPLOYEE VOICE’, Academy Of Management Journal, 55, 4, pp.
851-875, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 29 June 2015.
Dwivedi, S., Kaushik, S., & Luxmi. (2014). Impact of Organizational Culture on Commitment of
Employees: An Empirical Study of BPO Sector in India. Vikalpa: The Journal For
Decision Makers, 39(3), 77-92.
Hough, K 2011, The Improvisation Edge : Secrets To Building Trust And Radical Collaboration
At Work, San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, eBook Collection (EBSCOhost),
EBSCOhost, viewed 29 June 2015.
Lloyd, J 2010, ‘Effective Feedback Reduces Defensiveness: Help employees succeed’,
Receivables Report For America’s Health Care Financial Managers, 25, 4, pp. 8-10,
Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 29 June 2015.
NOWACK, KM 2014, ‘take the sting out of feedback’, TD: Talent Development, 68, 8, pp. 50-
54, Professional Development Collection, EBSCOhost, viewed 29 June 2015.

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