Emergency operation

The ultimatum

A couple of months ago Marc (name change), a coach in his 40s, called me and said, “I need your help! My superiors told me today that I have another 6-week probationary period and if by then I can. If I show a good performance, I will be fired. “

He sounded quite scared and outraged, which is not surprising in such a situation. First, I helped him calm down so that he could think clearly and rationally.

Usually my clients are counseled 2-4 times a month. However, as this was a true emergency, we decided to set up 2 coaching sessions per week for the first 3 weeks and then review the situation again.

It turned out that he started this work less than 6 months ago and that in the first 2 to 3 months, everything seemed to be going well. And then suddenly, according to him, everything turned against him:

* His boss stopped communicating properly with him, overruled him over and over again, and even overruled the orders Marc had given to his staff, thus completely eroding Marc’s authority in his department.

* His staff expressed deep dissatisfaction with Marc’s boss, who was the acting manager of this department for almost a year before Marc came on board. They complained about Marc’s lack of technical competence and his leadership style.

* Colleagues in other departments became increasingly skeptical of his competence and ability to get the job done, which is reflected in the style of internal communication (he showed me an email where colleagues wrote things like “… When will you understand who he is? Does he deal with these kinds of problems? “).

What happened?

Looking at Marc’s career, we see a person who made his way from below. His two previous posts gave me a clear indication on the root causes of the problem:

– In your penultimate position, you worked in the export department of a medium-sized company and was responsible for sales for a certain region. I had no personal responsibilities in this position.

– In your last position, you were responsible for creating a sales network in Europe for an American company. At the end of this appointment, he had four staff members under his charge, all hired by him. His boss in the USA was mainly interested in the sales figures, which increased successfully. Team USA barely got involved in what he was doing to achieve them.

That means that he:

… never had to “take over” existing staff.

As a result, he assumed that his new staff would accept him as their boss in the same way that the people he employed accepted him at their previous job. He didn’t realize that he has to earn the respect of his staff first.

… never worked as a manager in an existing organization.

He underestimated the cultural aspects, as well as the dynamics and politics involved, of an adult leadership team.

… as a manager, you never had to work closely with your boss.

Since he did not want to do anything wrong, he did not initially make any decisions, but he always asked his boss how to handle things. Worse than that, he didn’t even prepare possible solutions, instead clearly asking what he should do.

Now it suddenly became very clear to him what went wrong and that the reaction of his boss and his team was not something that happened suddenly, but was an inevitable consequence of his behavior.

Unfortunately, her boss was not the type to give constant feedback on what is good and what should be improved. Instead, he was just waiting if Marc’s behavior would change over time and he became increasingly angry and disappointed when it didn’t happen.

Emergency action

Unfortunately, I entered the process very late and was clear that the chances of “saving” Marc were not good.

As always, when training people in difficult situations, my first goal is to get them to calm down and put some distance between them and their confusion, so that they can think more clearly and rationally. I encourage you to first vent your frustrations, anger, and other strong emotions that you may have in that situation.

Marc and I spent half of our first session doing this activity and I could feel Marc calming down afterwards and starting to think more logically. As a next step, I asked Marc to describe his current situation and what led to it. Of course, at first Marc couldn’t understand how this could have happened to him. He always meant well, worked hard, and “did nothing wrong to deserve it.”

It was only when I asked him to clarify what happened in detail that Marc began to understand what he “did wrong” and what led him to this difficult situation. That was a key element of our training process, as understanding what went wrong was the foundation of the action plan that could help rectify the situation.

In the second week we developed the action plan that you would present to your management to show that you would change the way you worked in order to deserve the satisfaction of your superiors.

Too late

Unfortunately, it turned out that some key people in the organization completely lost faith in Marc; They did not believe that he could change and work successfully in his position. Therefore, they were actually looking for Marc’s mistakes to have more reasons to fire him. We realized that the ultimatum was a wish from top management who wanted to give him one last chance, while his line manager had already “discarded” it. In this situation, it was impossible to be successful. The training process began after having reached the point of no return.

After we realized that (3 weeks from the start of the training), we focused on his time after the ultimatum. Overall, Marc’s comments on the benefits of coaching were as follows:

The training helped him stabilize mentally and emotionally.

The training came too late to save your job, but most likely it would have helped you keep your job if you had started at a less critical stage.

The training helped him understand what went wrong, what he could have done differently, and how to be more successful in the future.

Copyright 2006 Progress-U Ltd.

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