Is de-clagging even a verb?  Not sure, but it feels right.

I really enjoyed my recent experience of coaching a client from an industry in which I have no experience. He was a senior project manager running a multimillion pound project lasting about two years, and he came to me desperate for help. He felt a failure, as the project was overrunning massively on cost and time.

That thinking was beginning to take hold of him. He wasn’t sleeping, his skin was bad and he was thinking he would have to leave his job, and probably the industry.

We had six sessions. I was determined to help him discover what was really happening and he eventually discovered a very different narrative of what had been going on:

  • This was a new client
  • He was appointed the project manager because he was so well trusted by his company
  • The client appointed two consultants to run the project from their side
  • Those consultants were from an entirely different industry, where safety standards were altogether of a different order
  • They managed the project as if they were in their original industry
  • The contract assumed the client would behave as a ‘normal’ client
  • They didn’t
  • Their demands meant that work took much longer and therefore overran hugely on costs
  • Frustration on both sides was the inevitable consequence

In our coaching sessions, my coachee came to the realisation that:

  • His company had never worked with a client like this
  • His company had not contracted specifically enough with regard to expectations
  • He could have spotted from early signs that his client was likely to behave in a highly challenging way at a later stage in the project
  • This did not mean he was a failure
  • In fact, it was giving him experience that no one else in his company had
  • That is, that his client was working to unreasonable expectations, which he was not responsible for setting

I had the great joy of seeing him move from despondent individual, to reflective professional who had just learned a huge amount in a short period, however painful.

He was approached by head-hunters towards the end of our work together and has now accepted a promoted position, based on the wisdom and experience he has combined.

My job was to help him de-clagg his mind, which was silted up with unjustified thinking.

The difference, when he had done so, was life-changing.