In your work environment do departments:

  • Compete rather than collaborate?
  • Appear to operate autonomously, not cooperatively?
  • Have ambiguous if not strained relationships?
  • Blame each other and point fingers when things go wrong?
  • Bicker and quarrel over what seem like trivial or childish issues?
  • Appear isolated and pitted against another department head?
  • Seem to lack trust?
  • Have breakdowns in communication?
  • Dwell on the reasons, excuses, explanations, and justifications rather than on the needed solutions?
  • Act inconsistently, regarding their direction, policies, or procedures?
  • Have different or conflicting goals from the other departments?

This is a situation for an executive coaching team, who can facilitate individuals in the different departments to achieve functionality and cooperation. The following scenario describes a situation that is ripe for an experienced coach.

HAVE CONFLICTING GOALS

Ted, the director of sales for a major communication company, is soft-spoken, people- oriented, and a living example of a “Theory Y” manager. He had to interface with Bob, a tall, “status-quo sustaining” company man. Ted was entrepreneurial by nature and had his own company before coming on board. He enjoyed taking risks and playing for high stakes, but the offer he received from his long-term friend, Ed, was irresistible so he
decided to join the corporate team.

The sales divisions were owned by the same parent company. Bob was the general sales director in the parent company and Ted was the sales director in the subsidiary company. On the surface they appeared to be friendly, however, underneath there lay territoriality and competition. After having interviewed each member of the two sales forces, our team of coaches discovered a great deal of secrecy between the two companies and little collaboration regarding client contact, referrals, or systemitized follow up. After further investigation, it became apparent there were two totally different compensation plans. Each company sold different communication systems that were in direct competition with their sister company. The bottom line was, the charter objectives between the two companies were in conflict.

The subsidiary company was launched as an entrepreneurial arm of the traditional telecommunications firm. Individuals were cherry-picked from the parent company to form the subsidiary. The people who were selected were told that “only the cream of the crop had been chosen” and as a result those who were selected felt special and important. Conversely, those who were not chosen and who stayed at the parent company harbored resentment toward their “special” counterparts. Those pioneers who formed the subsidiary were led to believe that they could do no wrong, and that there were unlimited resources for their development as a new entity. Right from the start, there was inherent conflict. The situation was fraught with secrecy, strained interpersonal dynamics, and internal competition. Our team of experienced coaches worked with both companies to help
them become more functional. The steps in the process were as follows:

  1. We met with the key individuals to determine their objectives for the project as well as their desired outcomes.
  2. We formulated an anonymous document that synthesized the individual’s various opinions, perspectives, thoughts and feelings regarding the situation.
  3. We met with the management teams of both companies and presented the document that had been synthesized under specific headings.
  4. With the secrecy exposed, and the dysfunctions on the table, we could proceed to collaboratively strategize an action plan that would remedy the situation.
  5. It was essential that our team work in collaboration with our two clients to facilitate their vision, strategy, and implementation to become functional.
  6. Step-by- step top management made tough decisions that addressed the issues. Policies were changed, favoritism was eliminated, and alignment in execution was established. Most of all, the competition disappeared and the teams started working together united cooperatively to recapture market share.
  7. The coaching happened individually, then in teams, and finally in the facilitation of the two companies. The outcome was an increase in 45% market share over  an 18-month period. Not only did the revenues expand, productivity increased significantly, and morale was noticeably improved. The environment became a great place to work and attracted superior candidates into the workforce.

The end of the story was very positive and both companies ended up happy, functional, satisfied, with their corporate quotas fulfilled. The team of coaches also experienced satisfaction because we had made a difference, not only in the  two companies whom we supported, and in the lives of the employee’s families,
the corporate customers, and every life that was impacted by those sales forces.

Chérie Carter-Scott, Ph.D. MCC

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