Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

Do you believe it is possible for someone to truly change their style and approach? One of our senior advisors has hired a very expensive coach to work with him to become a better person, whatever that means. I had an opportunity to see the cost and was stunned at how expensive this guy is without clear goals attached to what he is doing. This advisor had received feedback that he isn’t sensitive enough. He has gone through three assistants in the last two years who just couldn’t work with him. The head of our firm decided he needed a coach to help him change his behavior. Is this possible? So far what I have seen is a lot of expense but nothing changing. He is still an irascible coot who calls the assistants “girls” and is demeaning and insulting to most everyone around him.

S.W.

Dear S.W.,

It’s hard for me to answer this without knowing how long this advisor has been working with the coach, how much the coach is pushing him to be self-reflective, how willing the advisor was to engage in the coaching and how much the advisor can see about the impact of his behavior. But the short answer is “yes,” it is possible for someone to become more self-aware and change their behavior and approach. That said, there is also wiring – sometimes called “behavioral DNA” – where we have certain preferences and styles in the way we approach situations. All of us have a preference on how we want to solve a problem, or how much energy we get from interacting with people, or our views on steady pace and process (like it or not) and how important we find procedures and following rules. We can shift the approach, but we’ll prefer to do things a certain way.