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Coaching to Solve Interpersonal Issues at Work

The case study: Jennifer is the Accounting Department manager for a regional chain of convenience stores. She is a "superstar" with a bachelor's degree, passed the CPA exam, and is really exceptional in her accounting knowledge. She has implemented two accounting procedural changes that have streamlined the work and resulted in cost savings for the company. She reports to the CFO, and he is concerned about Jennifer, despite her obvious talents. There is no denying that she has had a positive impact, but Jennifer is not fitting in so well. Jennifer is a poor communicator and seems to have alienated quite a few of her peers and her employees. She is often aloof and distant, and her usual way of motivating performance is to simply dictate what will be done and expect compliance with her orders. She has good ideas but has little ability to present them well or to work as part of a team.

The solution addresses the questions below. The CFO should meet with Jennifer to discuss the areas of concern. A corrective action plan (CAP) must be created; and more importantly, monitored for progress. The CFO must be able to communicate effectively to ensure Jennifer understands what the issues are and the expectations for resolving them. The CFO should also model the behavior when interacting with Jennifer on this matter that he/she expects in performance. For example, instead of dictating that Jennifer must change, the conversation should be more of a coaching/mentoring experience.

How would you approach Jennifer and what would you say?
What issues would you work with her on?
How would you hold Jennifer accountable for improvement on the issues you identified?

1. What skills do you need to be able to manage this situation?
Do you think you need relationship skills? If so, which ones? Give reasons for your choice
Do you think you need personal skills? If so, which ones?
Do you think you need business skills? If so, which ones? Give reasons for your choice

2. Use the steps in the problem solving process to come up with a solution to this situation.

Solution Preview

As the CFO, I would conduct a brief investigation and speak with some of Jennifer's subordinates. This would provide specific examples on how she is perceived as a dictator and how her communication style may be sending the wrong message. Once I have these details, I would have a meeting with Jennifer. Most managers are concerned with how their performance is viewed by their supervisor; not their subordinates. It could be that Jennifer has no clue how she is perceived by others. I would open the discussion by asking Jennifer how she feels her subordinates view her. I would provide general details on how some actions may come across alienating others or even as a dictorial role; rather than a leader. I would explain what my expectations are for Jennifer in regards to communicating more effectively with others. ...

Solution Summary

An employee may have excellent skills in performing certain job tasks, but lack an ability to communicate effectively and build strong, interpersonal relationships. This case analysis provides recommendations for a coaching, or mentoring plan, for an employee named Jennifer, who is having issues motivating her subordinates and is actually at a point where many have been alienated. The solution is over 500 words.