The Group Board’s Chairman was concerned that their IIP inspection had failed and was looking for a range of inputs to remediate the situation in the short to mid-term.
Middle management was generally failing to listen to, develop or involve their staff. The COO had been in post for less than two years and there was considerable pressure to meet business objectives with no formal reporting (of staff-development achievements) at management board meetings. The COO was young, careless about time-keeping and overbearing. He was also manipulative and favoured some staff and cold-shouldered others. The Group Board Chairman was not aware of the scope of the problems, seeing the COO as a protégé and a ‘work-in-progress’.
We reviewed IIP findings with key staff at all levels. Set out a training and structural plan for both staff-development and reviews. Met with cohorts in problem areas to seek feedback and create amendments and the wholesale reform of operating procedures for the main board to approve. Facilitated meetings leading to agreed behaviours of customer-facing staff to improve customer-loyalty and repeat-business. Developed half-day training programmes for middle-managers with half-day coaching available (via pre-booking) for the same cohorts to receive 1-2-1 coaching. Coaching for the COO was also offered and accepted. An external stakeholder 360 was carried out to seek external feedback and to ‘send reassuring messages’ to the market, that the business was continuing to both develop its staff and the quality of its services.
Much of the feedback in group (and during coaching sessions) concerned negatively-perceived behaviours of the COO, some leading to sickness and absenteeism among managers. Coaching of some of the more junior managers led to their talents being more widely appreciated in the business. The available feedback was provided to the Group Board Chairman. Some of the issues (that could NOT be identified to a source) were discussed with the COO with a view to coaching. The COO had read a lot about management and was knowledgeable but quite unable, at first, to get a perspective on his own inability to moderate the ‘tough-guy’ behaviours (that had driven him to senior office). During two coaching sessions he acquired more perception about his behaviours and the consequences of them. The change in behaviours was not fast enough and with the Group Chairman receiving more open and direct feedback from managers about the COO, confidence was draining away. The COO was summarily dismissed. A prospective replacement was passed by us for appraisal – with our support, the prospective was offered, and took the post of, COO. The new COO was radically more people-oriented and settled into post within a few months, building trust. This was achieved during a period of early restructuring of management – one of the objectives of which was to create jobs to suit the strengths of the managers. The company passed their IIP re-inspection with a few caveats (for continued attention).