Case Study : Coaching to Improve Working Relationships

Posted by Amanda Furness

Rob is a senior manager in a large corporate organisation. His line manager asked him to consider coaching because he was gaining a reputation for losing his temper. Rob had previously had problems with his heart and this was a worry to all. Both Rob and his manager felt stress was a key issue, but were unsure how to progress.

In our initial session, we used the HSE standards as a framework to identify the sources of Rob’s stress, i.e.

  • The Demands of people’s jobs
  • How much Control (or how much say) people have in the way they do their work
  • The Support provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues
  • Relationships at work, including promoting positive working, preventing/resolving conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour
  • The extent to which people understand their Role in the organisation & do not have conflicting roles
  • How organisational Change is managed and communicated

We quickly discovered that the problem was not the job itself, which was well defined and easily within Rob’s capabilities. His line manager was on his side, if not always pro-active. However, he was very frustrated at the way recent organisational change had impacted on his team. His inability to influence some critical aspects of this change had led to frustration which had spilled over into anger, so that relationships were being soured at all levels.

In the second session we identified what Rob could realistically expect to influence/control, and whether he could ‘let go’ of what he couldn’t influence. This ‘letting go’ proved to be Rob’s core challenge. He had high expectations of others, and couldn’t hide his disappointment when he believed they were less conscientious than he was. We spent another session understanding where these powerful expectations came from, and how Rob could choose different responses.

By the fourth session, Rob was seeing positive change. He had taken responsibility for the way he expressed his views and was using influencing styles that were paying dividends. On a practical level, he had asked for and received communication process changes that would support his team in doing their jobs. He was also putting a higher priority on his health, and began a weight control programme that eventually lost him 2 stone.