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Case study number one:

The problem: A company was going through a systems conversion that would be a three-year process. Members of the top leadership team needed to work together closely in order to ensure a smooth transition and lead their staff through this time of change. But they had very different styles of communication, and the company stucture had them set up in silos. They were also frustrated by meetings that were chronically unproductive – all agreed that issues needed to be resolved instead of indiviual departments merely giving status reports.

The solution: We were called in to work with the senior team. Our goals were to facilitate more effective communication, better problem solving skills, and a greater sense of teamwork between the senior team. Our methods involved holding personal interviews, 360-degree feedback, and the Birkman Method – these tools gave them a reality check and allowed us to identify specific differences between the team members and to assess their individual and group strengths.

Implementation and process: To facilitate self-awareness, we gave each director private feedback about his/her communication style. We designed exercises to help each one appreciate the differences in individual styles – demonstrating, for example, how someone who needs face-to-face communication might pop in and out of others’ offices at will, seeming disruptive to someone who prefers e-mail communication. Equipped with a new "language," they discussed their differences without appearing judgmental.

In another exercise, the directors were charged with making group meetings more productive. Their assignment was to remain present – meaning they had to listen actively and ask questions. They also had to provide a specific example of something they observed during the meeting, or comment on someone’s presentation.

Results: We successfully increased awareness among the directors that their differences could actually be their strength as a team. A different mindset developed among them: they took responsibility for their roles within the team, in addition to leading their own departments. The team not only functioned better, but communication improved considerably and each individual also had renewed energy. The senior team even began planning group events, such as golf outings, outside the office. Betty Harvey and Associates was asked to continue working with the team and their staffs, and to provide ongoing individual and group coaching.