Executive Coaching Case Studies
Below are two case studies. Both clients have kindly given their permission to include them here.
Some background details have been changed to preserve their anonymity.
Coaching Case Study #1: Rapid Turnaround
- The client was the engineering head of a £5m turnover engineering firm in Scotland.
- The sponsor was his boss, the MD and owner of the business.
- The MD had hired the engineering chief three years earlier to help him win more business in four ways. First, by inventing new products. Second, by raising on-time delivery of customer engineering projects as too many had been arriving later than promised. Third, by delivering the projects faster. Fourth, by responding quicker to customers’ requests for quotes.
- He’d supported the new man with three new engineers. In all, the investment in new people had added hundreds of thousands of pounds to the firm’s cost base.
- After three years, there’d been no invention. On-time delivery of projects to customers – the most important metric of all – had worsened. Engineering projects were taking longer – so long they were now behind the industry average. And customers were receiving quotes even slower than before.
- The MD had done everything he could to help this man (who was a fine engineer) change his performance, but nothing had worked.
- Not surprisingly, relations between the two were tense.
Help the engineering chief go up a level as a leader and turn around his department’s performance, within seven months.
Client’s Coaching Goals
Within seven months… and without incurring extra costs:
- Raise project on-time delivery from 40% to 80%.
- Cut project lead times from 11 weeks to 9 weeks.
- Raise the percentage of customer quotes answered within 5 days from 42% to 60%.
Results After Seven Months
- As the three graphs show, the client transformed his department’s results on every metric, surpassing his goals.
- On-time delivery rose from 40% to 93%.
- Lead-times were cut from 11 to 7 weeks.
- The percentage of quotes answered within 5 days lifted from 42% to 63%.
- Client: “Before the coaching, I felt angry towards [boss], my colleagues and myself. But I told no one. Deep down, I felt slighted and humiliated. Anger was the dominant feeling though. It was hard to put aside. It was colouring my behaviour with [my boss] and the rest of the team – it made me defensive. I found ways of convincing myself the criticism I was getting was unjustified, but this distracted me from my key tasks, like team building in the engineering department. But now my anger has dissolved. My previous attitude of, “I’m right, they’re wrong” was, I realise, mistaken. My first shift was from anger to self-pity and then to feeling engaged and wanting to learn, which resulted in tangible achievement. So the coaching has had a big impact on me emotionally. But it’s also had a huge effect on the key metrics. This is my best ever career performance in terms of improvement in results and team atmosphere.”
- MD: “An astounding success.”
Download Case Study #1
Coaching Case Study #2: From Manager to Leader
- The client ran one of the manufacturing plants of a $2 billion American multinational.
- His boss and the HR director saw him as talented, with a great record of hitting his targets and perhaps having the potential to step into his boss’s job.
- However, although he got things done, they said he didn’t connect with people. His boss knew the client’s peers didn’t trust him so he couldn’t appoint him as their leader unless he changed. And an employee survey had shown the 250 people reporting to the client saw him as invisible, uninspiring, unapproachable, uncaring and uninterested in their welfare.
- The sponsors also questioned whether he was too narrowly focused. They asked, could he look beyond his day-to-day role, see the bigger picture and make a strategic impact on the business?
- The survey feedback and the boss’s comments about his peers’ distrust shocked the client. However, he agreed he avoided meeting people he didn’t know well (which was most of his staff). And he admitted that he rarely told colleagues what he was really thinking and feeling even when it would help the company to do so – which made it harder for people to trust him.
- So the client had potential, but he wasn’t going any higher unless he learnt to win hearts and minds and showed he wasn’t just a manufacturing tactician.
Help the client become a real leader and thereby prove he was ready for promotion.
Client’s Coaching Goals
Within 13 months…
- Understand why I behave and feel the way I do around other people.
- Let go of old behavioural habits and start (a) inspiring and connecting with others and (b) choosing how I respond under pressure rather than blindly reacting to old emotions.
- Prove to colleagues that I can see the bigger picture by creating and completing a project that improves our competitive edge in the market without increasing costs.
Results After Thirteen Months
- As the graph shows, there was a transformation in the way people viewed the client.
- His attitude and behaviour changed. Every previously negative view changed to a strong positive. Even previously positive views became more favourable. His workforce now saw him as visible, inspiring, approachable, caring, interested in others’ welfare and better at handling conflict.
- The client’s peers saw him differently too – they trusted him more.
- He also launched a project that added $1 million to profits, which brought him global recognition.
- Client: “When I first got the survey results, it was horrible. Humiliating. I found it hard to sleep at the time. But now I understand why I was behaving and feeling as I did and what effect it had on others and how they saw me. Only by understanding why I was behaving as I was could I begin to change. I’m far better at choosing my behaviour now instead of blindly reacting (although I’d say there is still room for improvement) and I’m better at leading and connecting with others. Where’s the evidence? It’s in the employee survey results. I know too that some of my peers have different views on me because they’ve told me so and that’s helped my relations. My empathy and approachability has increased significantly too. As has my belief in myself and what I can do. This has given me the chance to challenge the status quo, show I can take a wider perspective and lead a global initiative, to the benefit of the organisation.”
- Boss: “This is a fantastic transformation! Well done. I’m happy to recommend your promotion. Eighteen months ago I wouldn’t have been, but I am now.”
Download Case Study #2