1. The power of a growth mindset in long-term employees

 

Background

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* Clients’ names changed to respect our confidential relationship.
Jack had worked as a buying manager in an engineering company for over 20 years. His managing director, John, needed him to negotiate supplier prices to increase the company’s profit margin, while retaining the same quality of service and payment terms. John’s concern was that Jack would struggle to negotiate with suppliers.

Jack was well liked, but he’d lost his commercial sharpness. Easily distracted, he didn’t prioritise well, lacked a sense of urgency to complete tasks – and didn’t realise the impact it was having on others. Colleagues were complaining, production had slowed and clients were waiting longer for products.

John wanted to see Jack overcome these issues and tap into his vast experience of the products to negotiate the best prices.

 

Solution

I explained that before we could be sure his underperformance was due to a lack of capability, I would talk to Jack and find out how he felt he was progressing. It was held as an informal review and fact-finding exercise.

 Jack was completely aware that he wasn’t performing at his best. But he also didn’t believe he could improve or learn new skills after working in the company for so many years.

 After explaining the concept of a growth mindset, we discussed how unhelpful his current belief was, and how his experience of the company and its products made him an invaluable team member. I asked for Jack’s commitment to a 12-week development period, and we set about designing a plan to work on his negotiation skills and manage distractions, with weekly accountability reviews with managing director, John.  

Along with this, Jack found the motivation to resolve some of the issues he was facing.

 

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Results

John reported that in the 25 years he’d known Jack, he’d never seen such a significant improvement in a short space of time.

Jack started to analyse the company’s buying process to see what actions he could streamline and how he could work faster. He stopped doing tasks that were unrelated to the company’s main goals.

When Jack was due to attend a specialised negotiation skills training course, I met with him for a pre-course briefing (and again afterwards) to focus on gaining maximum learnings from the course and apply that to negotiating prices with suppliers.

John and Jack continued their weekly meetings and both noted that the process had improved their working relationship. Jack also developed self-awareness about the impact he was having on the rest of the team.

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2. Building an inclusive and collaborative team

 

Background

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* Clients’ names changed to respect our confidential relationship.
When an agriculture company was forced into a management restructure owing to significant financial losses, they reduced the number of managers and introduced a new role of ‘supervisor’. The newly appointed supervisors were promoted from within the existing team of workers to join the middle management layer.

The restructure had left a fragmented workforce. It was soon clear that the remaining managers were not working as a cohesive unit and the supervisors were lacking important people skills, unsure of where they sat in the leadership structure. 

Poor communication and a lack of collaboration at all levels meant employees were making basic mistakes. Morale plummeted and the managing director, Joanna, didn’t feel she had the time or the skills to turn things around.

 

Solution

I met with each person individually to better understand the situation from their perspective and discover what wasn’t working. I then prepared 3 management team training sessions on communication, team working and collaboration to bring managers and supervisors together.

During an interactive session they brainstormed ideas on how they could improve their methods of communication and team-working. We defined their roles more clearly and created a safe space for them to share their thoughts and work through the issues. Managers’ meetings became inclusive and supervisors attended, which helped to solve issues as they arose.

 

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Results

The team became unified. Both the managers and supervisors developed a healthy respect for each other and worked collaboratively. This resulted in a more efficiently run company with improved communication and fewer mistakes. Managing director, Joanna, observed stronger team work with staff pulling together, and there was more laughter and goodwill. She found her employees were also clearer on what was expected from them, which increased productivity. As a result, when the business reached a good profitable level, Joanna was able to fulfil her exit strategy, sell the business to another company and retire happily.


“Nina showed particular strength and a natural aptitude for the development of our managers and supervisors. Nina led the company through a complex restructure and recruitment process, resulting in the appointment of new management and supervisory teams, some of whom were newly promoted. Nina identified skills, knowledge and mindset/behaviour gaps which required development to bring new team members together as well as empowering them to spot and develop potential in others through a solid review process. Nina’s personable communication style, intuition, empathy and clear commercial understanding of the demands of the middle management layer, provided a practical and pragmatic approach to upskilling my management and supervisory teams. Using her coaching and mentoring skills, Nina facilitated and developed the art of collaboration between department leaders. Nina helped the business to stabilise quickly from the restructure process and be in a stronger position to move forwards.”

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3. Exploring options other than an exit strategy

 

Background

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* Clients’ names changed to respect our confidential relationship.
Managing director, Caitlin, started her company over 10 years ago, working with an assistant, Mark, who soon joined her as a director. As the company expanded, Mark’s team grew and they started to pursue new markets.  

After a while, Caitlin observed that Mark was struggling to motivate his team and get results. Staff turnover was steadily increasing and Mark began to lose confidence in his ability. Knowing their personal friendship was at stake, Caitlin didn’t want to follow the normal HR options of a capability process or an exit strategy, but was growing increasingly concerned and frustrated.  

I was introduced to the company by an employment solicitor as a fresh and alternative option.  

Solution

I met Mark to understand what issues and barriers he was experiencing in motivating his team and truly stepping into his role as manager. I used the Unique Management Footprint<insert link to UMF page> to help in my assessment.

Following a tripartite meeting between Caitlin, Mark and me to define expectations, I worked with Mark for 9 weeks of weekly coaching sessions, with behavioural actions in between to address the issues. This provided a combination of coaching, mentoring and training to close the gaps in his knowledge, skill and experience. After a second tripartite meeting, we had a breakthrough.

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Results

Once Mark understood more about how he was approaching his team, it led to an increase in self-awareness, significant behavioural change and the unleashing of his management potential. Mark is now operating at a management level, thinking more about his team and leading them through their workload. He is collaborating with others and drawing them into the vision of new markets.

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4. From stability to uncertainty: dealing with an unexpected restructure

 

Background

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* Clients’ names changed to respect our confidential relationship.
Steve was a senior finance professional whose company was going through a restructure. This meant Steve’s current job would dissolve and he would need to apply for a role in the new structure. There were 20 roles available, and Steve could apply for up to 3.

 Steve hadn’t applied for a new job in 10 years and felt uncertain about which roles he was best suited for. After many years of stability and familiarity with the company culture and ethos, it was an unsettling time.

 From being a confident and assured individual working at a senior level, Steve started to experience a lack of confidence, low self-esteem and sleep disruption. Feeling unsupported by his line manager, Steve approached me for external career coaching support.

Solution

Steve needed clarity on which role would best help his next career move within the company. I mapped out his Unique Career Footprint<insert link to Career page>, considering all aspects of his knowledge, skills and experience and where he felt he would like to develop his career. This led to asking searching questions and stretching his horizons.

 Once Steve had selected his roles and applied for them, I supported him through his interview preparation and presentation, and helped improve his confidence. At each stage, Steve felt he’d performed at his best.

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Results

After learning he’d been unsuccessful at the internal interviews, Steve decided to seek alternative roles externally. He started to take a more objective view of his own achievements, skills and experiences and see that his self-talk was stopping him from realising his true potential and worth.

Steve now felt empowered, relieved of burden and saw a significant shift in his confidence levels. He also started sleeping well again. This led to him securing interviews for director level opportunities with strong feedback from the interviewers. After going through a well-structured interview and selection process, Steve was offered a role as a company director which he is enjoying settling into.

‘Nina coached me from September '18 when I was informed that a restructure at my company could result in me re-applying for my role. Nina helped me through the process of identifying which roles I should apply for through her skilful coaching techniques that enabled me to select the roles that fitted my career goals. When I decided to leave the company, Nina was able to help me re-evaluate what I was looking for in a new challenge. She helped me identify my personal and professional goals including the values that I would want in a new company. As I secured interviews, Nina helped me prepare for the selection process by holding mock interviews and providing feedback when appropriate. I am pleased to say that with Nina’s help I was able to secure a director position in a new company in May '19 which I am enjoying.’

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5. Bouncing back from unexpected redundancy

 

Background

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* Clients’ names changed to respect our confidential relationship.
Sophie had worked at a manufacturing company for over 20 years when she was unexpectedly made redundant from her role as accounts assistant.

 Sophie was devastated, and confused about what to do next. She began looking for other finance roles but her heart wasn’t in it. She realised she wanted to do something different; the question was, what? 

Solution

Sophie needed a safe space to take a deeper look at her career history. Over 3 sessions we went through her communication style to better understand how she processes information, before assessing her skills, abilities, knowledge, experience and career values. We mapped that against the roles she was applying for and the kind of tasks she’d enjoyed in the past, which would raise her motivation.  

Sophie decided to apply for roles that involved tasks and responsibilities she’d done 20 years ago, and she still touched on in her recent role. It meant a move away from pure finance. The process brought clarity and a new focus.

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Results

When Sophie approached recruitment agencies she was able to clearly and confidently articulate what she wanted, so they could pinpoint exactly the types of role they had on offer. After she was called for a 2-stage interview process, I helped Sophie prepare with a mock competency-based interview. This resulted in her being offered the role without needing to progress to another round.

Nina has a unique way of being able to identify issues and concerns that could be affecting you. Through her coaching style she is able to help you articulate these concerns and then has a strong array of tools and techniques at her fingertips to help resolve these concerns and move onto the next stage. She has also a vast experience in recruitment and as an HR professional so she really does know how a recruiting manager would think.’

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6. Recognising the strategic, rather than operational, nature of HR

 

Background

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* Clients’ names changed to respect our confidential relationship.
Jade is an HR manager working long hours. Line managers in the business rely heavily on her to resolve basic staff management queries, meaning Jade often falls behind with her own workload.

Jade often feels that she is out of the loop when people-focused decisions are made at senior management level. She feels confined by the operational and administrative aspects of her role and doesn’t have the opportunity to provide an HR perspective at senior management level.

Solution

My work with Jade is twofold. First, I have been coaching her to raise her confidence with directors. This is an important ingredient for HR being recognised as a strategic role with a valuable and essential input at leadership level decision-making.  

Second, I am in the process of leading a management development programme to enable line managers to manage their staff more effectively and reduce their dependence on HR for basic staff queries.

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Results

So far, Jade has been able to influence the senior team to hold back on a strategic restructuring decision until managers have an opportunity to improve their skill set and resolve wider team issues.   

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