Chapter 2: Jack
On the day of the appointment Scarlett walked into the conference room with a bit of a trepidation in her step, Jack was a handsome, distinguished-looking man in his early 60s. He had on a blue blazer, khakis, and glasses, and had slicked-back gray hair. He stood to greet her.
“Scarlett?” he asked.
“Hello Jack. Nice to meet you.”
“My pleasure. Please come in and have a seat.” He told her a bit about himself: he had been an executive in HR at a medium sized company and was spending his semi-retirement years advising young executives and high-potential leaders. He said he was “creating the next generation of CEOs,” and joked that he even had plans for his grandchildren’s careers. “What about you?”
”I have been working here since I graduated from law school. I love what I do and have always wanted to be partner here, but am worried that this review may now get in the way. Right now people don’t seem to have a great opinion of me.”
"A 360 assessment is really used to be a development tool, or an opportunity to work on growth areas. That is what we are here to do - put together a plan to help you develop. I don’t want you to lose sight that you have received great feedback on your technical competence and ability to work with the client. Now what in particular did you see in your review that you think may get in the way the most?”
“I think the relationship stuff. I have been thinking about it since we set up this meeting and think there is a lack of a team dynamic in my group. I have been more concerned about getting the work done well and serving the client that I have not really had the time to focus on my employees or my colleagues. I have always just felt that it is too time consuming to work with people and train them.” said Scarlett.
“Ok, and it also seems like there may be some lack of trust in the team in terms of cooperation in getting things accomplished and maximizing the strengths of each of the team members, which tends to lead to that lack of team dynamic you mentioned.”
“Yeah I guess so. I don’t know how to build more trust.”
“Where do you think you can begin?”
“Well I guess I need to slow down. Perhaps I can take them out to lunch? I don’t do that very often. I bring in pizza sometimes if people are working late, but I am usually at client sites or working through lunch to be able to really spend time with them.”
“Ok so it sounds like you want to begin to enhance your communications with your team. That is a key component to building trust. The other two components are character and competence according to Steven M.R. Covey’s book “The Speed of Trust.” One-on-one meetings may be the best in the beginning in order to really get to know your team members. How big is your current team?”
“It’s small. I have an administrative assistant and one full-time employee,” Scarlett replied.
“Is that your ideal team size?” Jack asked.
“Well, I have been encouraged to grow the team, but I am hesitant as I am not sure if my administrative assistant is the right one. Her work performance has not always been at the level that I have wanted it to be.”
“Ok for this week I want to you to focus on first getting to know your team a little bit better without the focus on performance or roles yet. Take each of them out to lunch individually and talk to them about this review. Begin to share a bit more about yourself, such as your outside interests. See if there are any commonalities and start to build more of a rapport. Once you develop more open lines of communication with them we can then address the performance topic with your administrative assistant.”
Scarlett hesitated for she really wanted to talk about performance right away.
“I am not sure…”
“I want to get underneath this a little bit to see if it really is the relationship between you two or her performance that is really the issue.”
Scarlett sat with it for a minute when Jack asked what seemed like a random question. ”How are your relationships outside of work?”
“I’m single,” Scarlett said looking down, and quickly added, “I’ve been too busy at work to date.”
“Is that what you want in your personal life?” he asked.
Hesitantly Scarlett replied, “Well, I always thought that a relationship would just happen without me having to do anything about it,” she finally admitted. After a moment, she looked up with a hint of recognition in her eyes and asked “Do you think this feedback about relationships at work could also be impacting my personal life?”
“Well typically everything is connected...” he trailed off.
“Wow, so this is inhibiting not only my professional life, but my personal life as well?”
Jack didn’t answer; he just let her sit with that for a minute or so. “Ok, I will try it your way.”
“Good. Let me know how it goes next time we meet.”
Monica Thakrar has over 18 years experience in business focused mainly on strategy, change management, leadership development, training and coaching resulting in successful implementations of large scale transformation programs.