Coaching Case Study By Cheong Yen Fong
(Career Coach, SINGAPORE)
Background and Challenge
Ann has been working in the current company for 30 years as an administrative support staff in the sales department. Her work scope and responsibilities have remained more or less the same all these years.
Recently, the company had revamped the sales ordering and claims processes and she now has to manage new activities and ways of working due to the changes in these two business flows.
In addition, her new Line Manager has added a new area of responsibility to her two months ago This is to analyze and measure the Returns On Investment (ROI) of trade promotions on a monthly basis and to put them into PowerPoint charts for presentation to the management.
A few key points surfaced in our coaching session:
Ann was feeling stressed as she was trying to cope with many changes :
a) changes in the two business flows , and
b) in addition, she also has to manage the additional area of responsibility on the ROI analysis. Ann revealed that she was not given proper training to accomplish this new responsibility
She was feeling “uncertain” and also feared that she may be put on a performance improvement plan (PIP) in the next three months if she does not meet the expectations of her new Line Manager
Coaching Model used – GROW
Goal – supported Ann to identify the goals she wanted to achieve at the end of the session. These were mainly to have the courage to speak to her new Line Manager to ask for help and, to identify the specific training she needed in order to complete her ROI analysis and PowerPoint charts accurately and on time.
Reality – checked with Ann on her current situation, what were her difficulties/barriers, what had she done/explored so far.This also allowed Ann space to air her frustrations and feelings.
Options – allowed Ann to explore and to discuss the various options available to her to overcome her challenges.
Will – helped Ann seek clarity on what she needed to do to achieve her goals and to commit to these action steps.
Coaching Process and Skills Used
Setting the Foundation
We started the conversation with the coaching agreement. I explained that Coaching is a partnership that would allow her to maximize her potential. Our conversation will be kept confidential and coaching is not a substitute to counseling , mentoring nor therapy . Ann understood that she would need to take ownership of her agenda, the objectives and action plans and I as the coach will support her in this process to discover her action plans .
Active Listening and Creating Trust
I gave space for Ann to tell me about her current situation, what are the changes, how she is coping with all the changes and new responsibilities , to let her open up and to share honestly her challenges and barriers .
We agreed that we will look at her challenges in 2 parts to ensure clarity and focus:
- Challenge 1 – the existing new activities in the revamped sales ordering and claims processes
- Challenge 2 – the new responsibility in the analysis of the ROI
Powerful Questioning and Paraphrasing
Through the questions asked, I was able to guide Ann to identify the root causes and barriers to each of her challenges. I paraphrased her thoughts and insights in order to validate that her goals, challenges and barriers are correct.
After many probing questions, Ann concluded that for Challenge 1 , she will be able to manage the changes and she can ask her current team members for help should she meet with a road block . She is confident that in the next month, she would be competent in this area.At this point, Ann was able to feel better and more relieved compared to the beginning of the session when she was mixing all the changes together in her mind.
For Challenge 2, with further probing, Ann revealed that her rapport with her new Line Manager was not at the peak stage and she has a fear of approaching her to ask for help. She also revealed that she was only given a “handover “in the form an excel work file and a short explanation of what to do. She was then expected to find her way to complete the ROI within a tight time line.
I asked Ann to visualize what can be the worst case scenario if she speaks to her new Line Manager versus her not speaking to her to ask for help. As she described the picture, she concluded decisively that she should find the courage to speak to her Line Manager to ask for help. I further asked why did she make this decision only now and not earlier. She replied that she had the underlying belief that her new Line Manager is unreasonable and dismissive after hearing these comments from the other staff in the company.Ann also reflected that she needed to keep her job to support her elderly parents and she may find difficulty to look for another job given her age. These are her realities and thus her decision to ask her Line Manager for help.
Ann committed that she would speak to her Line Manager within the next two days. I asked her what will be the key messages that she will deliver to her Line Manager. I also supported her to do a role play with myself to ensure that she feels more comfortable when she speaks to her Line Manager later.I further asked her what other resources she would need and she identified that she would also need Microsoft excel and PowerPoint training so that she can extract and analyze data easily and accurately and to put them into the charts for presentation to management .
- Refrain and let go of any pre conceived judgement. Some of these thoughts were forming in my mind during the conversation and I have to tell myself to let go of these judgment and not to offer advices or suggestions on what client can do
- Active listening and being present “dancing in tandem “ with the client are important skills in the whole conversation but this takes time and patience , so the Coach should not push/lead Client for solutions and action plans
- Powerful questioning is important to support the client to move forward and make them accountable for what they agree and commit to do