A fast-growing financial services company was experiencing extraordinarily high turnover, even among senior management. Additionally, some very hurried hiring of middle managers had led to some poor choices, and legal liabilities were increasing. CEO/founder retained Mulkern Associates. With CEO’s concurrence, Tony Mulkern conducted anonymous interviews with all senior level managers and mid-level managers. This revealed numerous communication lapses and causes for dissatisfaction. Chief among them was the CEO’s own style. Additionally, he tended to delegate the same responsibility to several people at one time, with predictable conflicts and confusions.
The CEO was extremely open to the manner in which the feedback was presented and showed great eagerness to increase his leadership effectiveness. We scheduled regular coaching sessions to help him improve his communication and delegation skills. We also clarified each senior team member’s main areas of contributions and set objectives within those areas, tied to bonuses.
Turnover was reduced by 50% among all corporate employees and remained at zero among the senior officers for many years. Numerous field managers as well as corporate officers reported the vast improvements in the CEO’s management style and communications. The company became recognized as leader in industry due to a high level of profitability and growth.
Highly successful consumer services company was experiencing dissension and high turnover among senior executives. Entrepreneurial style of CEO/Founder was often misinterpreted by credentialed seasoned executives from traditional corporate backgrounds. Integrity issues had also arisen among some key staff members.
We scheduled regular coaching sessions with CEO to go through the issues that kept her awake at night. These sessions provided her with approaches for
- Raising difficult subjects, while minimizing defensiveness
- Establishing accountability
- Sorting out the facts from hearsay
- Dealing with resistance to change
- Putting responsibility for solving problems where it belongs, the person who owns the problem.
- Assessing which executives were good fit and possessed high potential.
A more professional, experienced, and qualified team was formed. Plans were created and implemented to hire other senior staff, together with procedures for getting best possible candidates.
CEO gained trust in key people; goals and objectives were clearly set throughout the entire senior team; and an executive bonus plan was implemented, all contributing to significant, continued growth.
Construction and design firm was behind schedule in phase I of a multi-million dollar advanced technology facility. Their highly skilled and experienced Construction Manager (CM) coordinated all contractors, subcontractors, and other professionals on site. Effectively leading this team presented significant challenges to timely completion.
The company retained Mulkern Associates as coach to provide the CM with a more effective approach to dealing with people and conflicts. CM at first was resistant to coaching but gradually came to see the benefit and to regard it as invaluable. Coaching was in four principal areas.
- How to establish accountability with people who did not report to him
- Reducing stress
- How to leverage position in firm to ensure quality of initial engineering plans
- How to prepare for possible advancement in the firm.
As a result, five main outcomes were produced:
- Tony Mulkern modeled for CM an empathetic, coaching approach to problem solving that obtained desired results while reducing his stress
- More candid, consensus building communication was established with boss
- CM gained greater respect of project client, who agreed to follow key recommendation CM had made to no avail for 12 months
- CM developed training program for the company on increasing quality of plans, thereby minimizing need for costly rework. Boss was elated with the results
- CM received promotion to desired position and accompanying raise.
Top-producing branch manager of international institution had repeated employee relations problems with office staff, and the threat of lawsuits loomed, presenting potential limitations on otherwise extremely promising career. Corporate office retained and assigned Mulkern Associates as executive coach. Initial resistance quickly gave way to trust and openness.
Confidential interviews with team revealed some expected recommendations for improving management style. The truly eye-opening finding, however, was that former support staff whom he had trusted implicitly were seen by others as blatantly undermining him. There were indications that this “blind spot” might be part of a self-defeating pattern.
While working to soften his general communication style, perhaps more importantly, we also worked to improve his skills in screening and hiring, in delegating responsibility effectively, and in following up. Particular emphasis was placed on effectively evaluating who was worthy of his trust and how to terminate those who were not, while minimizing liabilities.
For the past several years, the problem of rancorous support relations has not recurred, and client has experienced significant increases in executive responsibility, authority, and income.
High tech company with innovative enterprise software had experienced rapid growth and need to hire highly experienced, veteran executives with major corporate backgrounds. CEO was disappointed in results, finding senior team lacking in focus, coordination, and productivity. Tension and frustration were widespread, in spite of promising future.
Strategic planning process facilitated by Mulkern Associates produced challenging but realistic and measurable goals and objectives. Senior officers were each asked to plan measurable individual/department contributions to overall corporate goals and objectives. Some team members were unable to specify outputs and action plans for achievement. When subsequent coaching produced no greater clarity or specific results from these highly-compensated executives, it became clear that they were an impediment to corporate and team success, and they were replaced.
Other executives who aligned their specific output targets with overall corporate goals contributed to the continued growth of the firm, a successful IPO, and to making the CEO/Founder a millionaire many times over.