Coaching Case Study – MegaFirm Administrator

Susan Smith* is an office administrator in a large California-based law firm. Although she felt confident and competent in her position, she continued to have troublesome issues with several employees under her supervision. Her Human Resources department recommended she receive some professional coaching to try to alleviate the problem, but the coach they assigned her made the process unpleasant, and more like a “punishment” for her actions.

Fortunately, when it came time to evaluate the experience, she reported her negative feelings about the coaching process, and was allowed to select another coaching professional (Debra Bruce), with whom she immediately felt a good chemistry and respect.

“From the beginning, it was so obvious that Debra was on my team,” states Susan, “It was a great interpersonal fit. Debra keeps everything so confidential, and I immediately trusted her judgment.” After completing an initial DiSC® Behavior Style Profile, Susan gained invaluable insight into her own professional strengths and weaknesses. “I had appointments with Debra every 10 days, and she gave me very manageable tasks to work on as homework. Under her guidance, I listened to two CDs, “Crucial Conversations” and “Crucial Confrontations,” from which I gained a new mindset and the tools on how to better deal with difficult people. From the outset, I looked forward to each of our conference calls, and Debra’s helpful, objective advice.” Debra and Susan sometimes discussed and role played specific skills in advance for upcoming challenging conversations, and debriefed the results afterwards.

What is Susan doing differently and better, since her interaction with her new coach? “I’ve vastly improved my communication skills, and see the importance in really listening to others. I go out of my way to walk the halls to stay in touch with what’s happening outside my office. I’ve learned the value of little things, like writing thank you notes, to show my staff that I really do care, and I do my best to make people at all levels of the firm feel valued and important. I feel much more confident in my abilities, and my interactions with others have vastly improved.”

Most importantly, there is less turnover in each of Susan’s departments, and the morale of her employees has increased to the point that “they even brought me flowers last week, for no reason at all.”

“Working with Debra has been so positive and beneficial, and her simple online appointment and reminder system keeps you on track. This coaching experience has been well worth my time and my firm’s resources, and I’ve received many returns for our investment. I look forward to going to work each day with an upbeat attitude, and Human Resources sees the difference in me, my team and my productivity. It’s been a win-win all around.”

* Name changed to protect confidentiality