The Business Coach with Laura Murphy: What has happened to his potential?

Question: “My researcher is underperforming because he’s not realising his self-expressed potential despite intensive support. Ideas?” Andy

Answer: “The behaviour you’ve described in your email reminds me of a colleague who was keen to progress, knew he should do better yet never had that ‘oomph’ to get going. It turned out he’d never been taught as a child to be self-reliant.

I’m not saying this is true for you but you need a deeper understanding of him to resolve this instead of your task orientated route which isn’t working. Look at what’s motivating him in other aspects of his life and help him transfer that to this role. Find out what it is that’s making him self-sabotage. It could be that unconsciously he knows he’s not being realistic, or he’s frightened of actually achieving something. If you don’t have the skills to unpick this sensitively then get someone who can.

Of course in the end none of this might work and you may have to persuade him that this isn’t the job for him despite his professed desires.”

Laura is an organisation development specialist and executive coach with mtc2 ltd and was Highly Commended in the Eastbourne Business Awards Business Person of the Year. email your problem to

Names and details have been changed to protect confidentiality.