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Saving a Career from Derailment

One of the more challenging and rewarding services PSG provides is in the area of executive coaching. Each assignment is unique, requiring creativity in approach and a recognition that answers often lie beyond the obvious.

Recently, we were asked to help a group controller in a large international company save his career. He had a brilliant financial mind and his rise through the ranks had been meteoric. Responsible for the preparation and analysis of quarterly reports to the CEO and Board of Directors, part of his job required him and his department to work with the business units in processing 47 different sets of financials.

Diagnostic discussions revealed that executives at the business units perceived him as an ambitious, driving and self-serving, single-mindedly focused on his own advancement to the exclusion of all others. They also experienced situations where they were blindsided and caught “doing things wrong.” In short, there were no relationships and no collaboration.

At the same time, we found a man bored with the mundane and, in his mind, ten steps ahead intellectually of his colleagues and direct reports. There was also no recognition of the need to provide customer service to the operating units that supplied the quarterly numbers. The resulting attitude of his department was demanding, critical and uncompromising.

His management style and attitudes were poisoning the work environment, and it was obvious, without intervention, his future with the company would be derailed.

Our findings required a shift from the more conventional coaching role related to management style to the broader spectrum of issues. The outcomes were as follows:

  • The controller’s recognition of the issues and his wholehearted commitment to move rapidly to address them;
  • Successful efforts to build collaborative relationships with the presidents and staffs of the business units;
  • Resolving system problems in the department;
  • A shift in focus by the department to provide quality customer service and facilitation, as opposed to demands;
  • Increased focus on the basics of performance management in terms of reporting and accountability, ongoing feedback and coaching, and addressing issues raised by direct reports and department professionals.

Following an extremely intensive coaching relationship, there was a dramatic turnaround in the perceptions of colleagues, including the HR department which was tracking progress.

The impact on the controller? While the changes are still a work-in-progress, this coaching initiative has put his career back on track with favorable implications for the business units and prospects of greater effectiveness, efficiency and improved morale within his own department.

There are numerous similar situations in most companies in various functional areas. It doesn’t have to be in accounting. If you’d like to chat about these kinds of challenges, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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