The last temptation is the final treason,
To do the right thing for the wrong reason.
T. S. Eliot
A perceptive therapist told me that most clients want to make their neuroses work better, to stop suffering the consequences of their dysfunctional behavior. In Enneagram coaching we discover, for example, that in-the-box Threes -- who want to succeed at any price -- come for stress relief. They want more energy and/or more efficiency, despite the fact that they are already workaholics achieving more in less time than anyone else. They actually love the stress and striving; what they're bothered about is the consequent fatigue. If a coach just treats the symptoms -- fatigue, in the example above -- by encouraging better nutrition and a little more sleep, you actually will solve their presenting problem. You will also leave the dysfunctional motivation intact and it will only be a matter of time until that dysfunction has some other consequence. So paradoxically, the worst thing you could offer might be good advice.
Transformational coaching -- the kind we teach and practice -- does not see behavior change as adequate. If clients just want more efficiency and you teach them time management skills, they will change their behavior and become more efficient. That will not touch the underlying problem. As expressed in one of Thomson's laws: You never get enough of what you really don't want." A Three cannot become efficient enough. Efficiency is only a means to get applause -- which Threes interpret as love. But the mechanism for gaining love (or applause) -- becoming more efficient -- doesn't work. We made an extensive search of love poetry and failed to find a single quatrain in which the lover rhapsodized over his or her beloved's efficiency.
With good coaching, Threes can come to understand that their longing for efficiency is based on a belief that if they accomplish, they will be loved. This is a devil's bargain. If you work extremely hard to get someone to love you, you have this lurking fear that they "bought the act," leaving you still wanting to be loved for yourself. It may seem odd to talk about love, especially if you coach in high-powered corporate settings. But the Enneagram deals with our deepest longings, and our corporate posturing is one step removed from our inner world. Perhaps a story will clarify. "Once there was a wealthy developer who bought up all the houses in a section he wanted to develop, except for one old house owned by an elderly couple. He offered them three or four times what the house would have sold for, but they would not sell. They said they had lived there all their life and they just didn't want to move. When he received their decision, the developer fumed to his accountant 'That's purely emotional!' The accountant serenely answered, 'So is the desire to be fabulously wealthy.'"
So a good leading question is, "Why do you want to be more efficient?" If the answer is only in fiscal terms, perhaps good advice is all they want. But more than likely, if you gain their confidence and get a feel for the context, other, more inner reasons will surface. When the deeper reasons, the real motives surface, you are in a position to do some transformational coaching.