James, a senior director in an international financial services group responsible for structured finance execution, was referred for coaching by his line manager. Although he was seen as being technically able, he came across as cold and disinterested, and this had had a negative impact on the people he met.
One of the objectives of his coaching was to help James develop better interpersonal skills in order to make him a more effective marketer. A coaching contract of eight one-and-a-half hour coaching sessions was agreed. His behavioural contract included the following two outcomes: ‘To identify and develop relevant interpersonal skills associated with effective relationship building’ and ‘to develop a framework for understanding my own thinking processes and that of others to enable the recognition of the similarities and differences and associated possible outcomes’.
During his early sessions with his coach, James came to recognise that to progress further in the organisation, he needed to develop his business origination skills. Psychometric profiling helped identify his personality type and James came to realise that his approach had a tendency to alienate individuals. By considering the impact he had on others, he was able to develop an awareness of his own ‘natural’ style of communicating and recognise that different people had their own preferences in communication.
The main hurdle James had to overcome was to appreciate that the origination of business was only partly to do with technical ability. He came to understand that a prospective client in the highly competitive banking market is going to rely on personal relationships in choosing the person and organisation they wish to work with.
The focus of his coaching sessions became the development of desired behaviours to improve personal relationships. A series of behavioural exercises was created in relation to networking, in particular, the concept of using ‘small talk’ around non-technical subjects such as finding out about the other person and looking for subjects of personal interest, was explored. To assist this process, James was helped to identify his thinking style. Two of his beliefs were, ‘I am at work to work and not to socialise’ and ‘other people will think well of me if I am technically able and I must demonstrate this at all times’.
By the end of the coaching contract, James had managed to modify his behaviour and communication style to one that placed more emphasis on building individual relationships. The feedback received from his manager and from others in the organisation demonstrated a positive change in the way James related to people. In addition, James found that his more open personal style was receiving a more positive pay-off in terms of securing business.
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