Manager earns respect in workplace by team-building

Written on:October 25, 2012

How To Gain Top Performance Through Team Building, Communication Skills, and Leadership Style.



“Susan” served as a top performer in a bank’s IT department. She worked with a dominant boss. She trusted and relied on him and followed his way of managing without even considering her style, even though it didn’t feel good to her.

As a manager, Susan oversaw eight staff members and more than 50 contractors. She got the work done, but with limited social skills and a negative attitude. Because she didn’t focus on the people part of the job, her relationships were problematic. Because people did not like her, they avoided her. This was potentially disastrous especially in an IT department where teams must focus on specific tasks and work together effectively to assemble seamless systems.

Susan’s boss hired me to help her build a stronger team and lead them in a more motivational manner.



I normally start with an assessment but, at the time I came in to coach her, Susan already had worked with two other coaches, so her boss felt it unnecessary.

I met with her face-to-face in her office, guiding her through daily issues. After introducing her to a communication model, which intrigued her and created buy-in to my ideas, we focused on:

  1. Developing her people skills
  2. Role-playing difficult conversations
  3. Developing self-awareness

Susan began building relationships by getting to know more about her team members’ personal interests, hobbies and lives.

In our sessions, I role-played communication scenarios with Susan, especially to help her deal with underperforming employees and become more comfortable with the firing process. She found these difficult conversations could be handled more easily once she formed a relationship with the employee. Her practice helped them both with communication and understanding one another throughout the process. Interestingly enough, the poor performer was unhappy in his position and had been searching for a new job for a while. How would she have known about it if she hadn’t started a conversation about his performance?

Susan also learned to develop self-awareness. She had simply adopted her boss’s style and led her staff in his style, not hers. She never reflected on whether his requests were in the best interest of her or her team. Our conversations helped her unlock her leadership style, and she became much more approachable.

As we continued to focus on the successes and positive feedback she received as she changed her behaviors, Susan’s potential opened up. The turning point came with the awareness that she could make her own decisions, and succeed using her own independent authentic leadership style.



In just six months, Susan built better relationships with her staff, and her family as well. Her boss was impressed with her progress, and she became the go-to person in her department. She knew all about her staff’s personal issues, and they liked turning to her.

She allowed staff members to work different schedules to accommodate family needs, and also developed a system with criterion to detect and master difficult situations, such as firing underperformers sooner.


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