An HR Director contacted me regarding a front-line supervisor (an Accounting Manager) having challenges meeting timelines. The situation became so severe that his supervisor (the CFO) placed his employee on probation. An external coach was being considered to come in with a fresh, more objective perspective.
While this client was out-of-state, they invested in my visiting their company to meet the HR Director, the Accounting Manager (the coaching client) and his direct supervisor (the CFO). From then on, our interaction was all by phone. Building trust with the coaching client who was on probation was crucial. Also, listening to everyone’s perspective where there were differences was also paramount.
After meeting with the HR Director alone, we both met with the coaching client, his direct supervisor, and a few other key leaders (internal stakeholders). When finally, alone with the coaching client, I asked him if he would be able to place his trust in me. His response was “I will trust you until I have a reason not to.” So, this meant he was open and we could establish a rapport. He showed me his office and introduced me to his team who sat in cubicles just outside his office. Having this in-person experience would help greatly as we worked together over the next several months. Traditionally, I engage a coaching client’s direct supervisor and/or HR in setting the goals for the coaching program, evaluating them both midway and again at the end of the program. It became apparent early on that the CFO may have been contributing to the Accounting Manager’s performance issues. By the CFO not effectively communicating his expectations and faulting his employee for not meeting them, I observed a disconnect. In working with a coaching client, sometimes, I can help their own manager better understand the situation from another perspective. In the end, the Accounting Manager grew and was released from his probationary status. Ironically, the CFO was terminated not long after.