Executive Coaching

 

A Top Performer is finally Recognized, Rewarded, and Promoted

Situation:  Due to several waves of corporate restructuring and downsizing, a Senior Vice President of Client Relationships for a major financial investment firm had to absorb the workloads of several colleagues who had abandoned ship.  His two most recent bosses had not adjusted the sales goals or reimbursement for anyone in this division.  As a result, he was seriously considering looking for work elsewhere, even though his departure would have thrown the division into chaos. In addition, he had to adjust to yet another new boss. In many ways, because this executive was no-trouble and a high-performer, he was overlooked and taken for granted during the ongoing drama of rapidly-shifting corporate politics.

Action: This client had long been unhappy in this position and with the leadership of this firm, and had been seriously exploring leaving. Unfortunately, his options were significantly constrained by the global economic downturn. We decided to set goals for his political protection within the firm, pay careful attention so the stress of his work load and travel demands did not erode his health, and simultaneously kept an eye out for new internal and external opportunities.

Results:  This client built a solid business relationship with his third boss, who asked him to assume leadership of the firm’s national, then international, sales team. We considered this offer carefully and decided to accept it. As part of this conversation, the client negotiated a great bonus that compensated him in part for prior substandard-paying years. We have since been working to hone his leadership skills so that he can manage his “prima donna” staff members—who are quite a challenge.  So far, so good.

 

 

A Super-Star Decides to Stay and Grow (rather than Sue and Go)

Situation: An international financial investment firm engaged us to assist a high-profile Portfolio Manager who was considering leaving due to sexual harassment and rapidly decreasing morale. Her manager and male colleagues seemed outraged by the charges–yet still refused to allow her leadership responsibilities and title that typically came with her role.

Action: We formed a dual relationship with both the Portfolio Manager and her immediate supervisors to retain this top talent. This included conducting interviews for feedback with peers and direct reports, plus administering the 360 Leadership Balance Profile. With our support the client decided to build her organizational position before leaving the firm and/or filing formal legal charges. The executive client learned new stress-reduction, conflict-management, leadership, presentation, and political negotiation skills—and gained helpful insights into how she was contributing to the problem. By mastering these new skills, she was able to secure a leadership role inside the company that was commensurate with her position.

Results: Both the Portfolio Manager and the company “won” as a result of this intervention. The PM's reputation as an effective contributor increased both within the industry and her company. Her firm increased her team-leadership responsibilities, and now these meetings are the best attended and most productive in her division. We also protected her from the kind of retaliation that prior employees had experienced when they challenged the system. After stabilizing her position within the firm, she committed to staying. Today her performance reviews continue to be stellar and she has taken on the added responsibility of launching a new initiative in partnership with a global micro-lending organization.  On a personal health level, this client dramatically reduced stress-related back pain and other physical symptoms. The organization won big also. It not only retained a top-performing, well-respected employee, but also saved themselves a high-profile, embarrassing—and likely very expensive—negotiated settlement and/or law suit.

 

 

Deteriorating Relationships turn into a No-fault Separation where both parties “win”

Situation: We were called in by the Vice President of an international nonprofit agency to coach the supervisor of one of the departments. This person was having serious professional and personal problems at the time, which put great stress on her ability to perform her job.  We noted immediately that both the supervisor and the client had micromanagement and blaming tendencies, which made their relationship all the more volatile. Moreover, the organization’s structure put the executive client between a rock and a hard place; i.e., she had to take one set of orders from the organization’s charismatic leader and another set of (often countermanding) orders from her direct-line boss. 

Action: The intake for this manager consisted of interviews and a Personal Balance Profile which allowed the client to examine her responsibilities in this conflict. When we realized the additional contributing factor of the inherent organizational structure conflict, we asked the direct manager for specific criteria by which we could determine what success looked like for both the client and the coaching program. Interestingly, this probing immediately exposed a complete lack of success standards for the client and an unwillingness by management to address the systemic problem of countermanding orders for anyone who held this position.

Results: The coaching program was concluded by the executive deciding to resign and start a her own small business.  Paradoxically, this was considered a successful outcome by both the executive and the organization. Both were relieved that the intervention made it possible for the conflict to be settled so quickly and in such a civil fashion. As soon as she was out the door, the client launched a new retail business which she had been developing for the prior year. (She had been unhappy in her job for a long time, and had been working during off hours to launch this private project.) The client employed The Balancing Act’s strategic planning process both to leave her job with grace and to launch her new business with decisiveness. 

 

 

Slaying the Dragons: Managing Hostile Employees

Situation:  At a Community College, a Dean has to temporarily assume additional responsibilities when a vital department manager becomes ill and leaves on disability.  The department in question has had five managers in four years, largely due to its passive-aggressive staff members. These employees were known throughout the college as being people with whom no one else wanted to work—and certainly that no one else wanted to hire. Not only had these employees declared openly that they would get rid of this manager, but they were very savvy in their political machinations and knew how to manipulated the system so they would be protected by the college union. 

Action: The Dean assumed management of this department while the supervisor underwent surgery and physical rehabilitation treatments.  The Dean had to impose new productivity standards and very strong limits with this contentious group, whose performance was significantly substandard.  This group was unused to direct confrontation, but the Dean worked hand-in-glove with the college's HR department to make certain she was always within her rights in her directives to this delinquent staff. We used The Balancing Act processes to develop a strong, politically sensitive strategy for taming this wayward group. We also focused on developing this Dean's conflict-management and stress-control skills so she felt personally strong enough to challenge this group's behavior at every turn.

Results:  Before too long, one of the worst offenders in this staff resigned, and the others reluctantly began to comply. After six months, the Dean hired an Interim Director because the original department manager was unable to return to work. Over the next three months, the Dean and new department manager had the group behaving well enough so the interim director was convinced to stay on. Another good outcome is that the delinquent group's performance finally reached the required Federal grant standards–and the group’s grant was renewed for another year. In recognition of her beyond-the-call-of-duty efforts, the Dean received the most glowing performance review of entire career, and a performance-related boost in salary.