Case study No 4 - Using Executive Coaching to help a business leader manage organisational conflict.

Ed was a technically brilliant Computer guy who had recently been promoted to a role in which he managed a small team for the first time. He was hard working and committed to the organisation,  working very long hours, delivering work of a very high standard.


He took these great qualities into his new role, but very quickly problems started to emerge. He was viewed as a very hard task master by his team and there were complaints about the way he spoke to people. Staff perceived him to be a rude and confrontational Manager and the productivity of the team went down.  


Ed was unhappy about the performance of some of his team members and quickly dismissed them in his mind as 'useless'. However, he lacked both the knowledge and skill to deal with performance issues in a constructive way and chose instead to put pressure on the underperforming people in the hope that they'd leave of their own accord.


One team member did indeed leave the organisation, stating in his exit interview that Ed was the reason he was going and threatening legal action. Another team member, Jo, raised a grievance with the Director of the Division. The Director was alarmed and feared an industrial tribunal but he also recognised that Ed was talented and wanted to support him to develop the people skills he needed.


In an open and frank discussion with the Director about the issues, Ed readily agreed to a series of coach / mentoring sessions that would help him explore his leadership style and in particular, how to positively drive performance.


However, he also challenged the Director about his own leadership style and approach. and it became clear ro the director that Ed was simply copying what he'd seen other Line managers do. The division met all of its performance targets  on a regular basis and was successful in many way but staff turnover was high, adding cost into the business and putting pressure on staff.


As a result the director also sought coaching input with a goal to lead his division in developing a more constructive performance culture that would result in lower staff turnover and a more motivated workforce.


Clear coaching goals & measures were set at the out set so that progress could be clearly seen over a 6 month period with regular coaching sessions each month.   


Feedback from several sources about the positive change in Ed's approach came relatively early on. He was highly engaged in the coaching process and hungry for learning about leadership, so very willing to try out new and more constructive behaviours. He was very open to being challenged about his personal style in coaching sessions and responded well to role playing difficult conversations about performance with the coach.


The Director used his coaching sessions as valuable time to reflect on people issues that he generally skirted over in his very busy schedule. An important output from the sessions for him was to determine some key strategic changes that would move forward the division's culture and as a result its performance. He used his coach as a totally confidential and objective sounding board for his thinking and took the opportunity to explore possible options, evaluating the pros and cons of each to ensure that his proposals were well constructed. 







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