Testimonials

"Her follow-through is extraordinary – it is comprehensive and prompt."

Robert B. Leiter
Director
Georgia Center for Continuing Education
Conference Center & Hotel
The University of Georgia
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Case Studies

Team Case

Situation:

A contracting relationship between a division of state government and a university department was not functioning as it should have been. A void in division leadership over a period of time had led to an adversarial relationship between the two groups. The groups were functioning as independent entities rather than a joint team with a common purpose. The groups had initially entered into the relationship in order to provide the best possible service to clients served by the state.

Approach:

Susan discussed the current situation, as well as the history of the relationship, with the leaders of each group. Based on the people and task issues identified, a joint team session was designed and conducted off-site. Susan focused the session on addressing people issues first in order to repair strained relationships and begin to develop a sense of "one team" with a common purpose. Topics addressed included: behavior style differences, interacting effectively with all style types, conflict resolution, trust and synergy. An experiential team activity, with thorough post-activity discussion, was included to help team members gain insight into team strengths and development needs.

Results:

  • Dramatic positive change in team demeanor
  • Reduced tension
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Increased other-awareness
  • Insight into behaviors that were harming the team
  • Greater understanding of the impact of style differences on the team
  • Commitment to individual behavior change
  • Renewed belief in the team's ability to achieve outstanding results
  • Readiness to use the tools and structures Susan left with the team to help them cast a new vision, set goals, clarify roles, and create team operating principles (behavioral guidelines)

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Mediation Case

Situation:

This case involved a small manufacturing facility with approximately one hundred employees. A long-standing conflict between two key leaders, both very gifted, had split the organization in two. Managers had taken sides. There was no neutral ground. Stress, venom, accusations, finger-pointing, assumptions, wasted time and misspent energy characterized the environment. Production and quality numbers were good, but individuals were suffering from stress-related ailments. Several incidents of unacceptable management behavior occurred and the Corporate Human Resources Department was notified.

Approach:

Susan began by interviewing each of the two leaders, all managers and supervisors. She then began conflict mediation between the two leaders. She worked with them over a period of several months, one session per month. She monitored the commitments that came out of each session in order to help them with follow through. Susan customized a "Full Circle" (360 º) feedback instrument for them and coached them in its use. She helped them process their results and determine what to work on first. She also coached them on how to respond to those that had provided feedback.

Over time, the relationship improved and the two leaders were able to work together effectively. The next step was to work with the divided management team.

Susan trained the management team in a series of subjects including DiSC® workstyle differences, emotional intelligence and leadership, conflict resolution, meeting facilitation and team development. She facilitated several management team meetings to demonstrate how to balance involvement in team discussions and create effective meeting structure.

Susan currently conducts off-site team development sessions with the management team once a year.

Results:

  • A restored working relationship between the two leaders
  • A management team that came together and began to move in a common direction
  • Greater understanding of work style differences and the impact they were having
  • Reduced stress
  • Diminished resistance to new ideas
  • Record breaking results in production and quality

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Meeting Facilitation Case

Situation:

A hotel and conference center was experiencing low occupancy and losing market share to competitors. A marketing consultant was brought in to assess the situation and make recommendations. The consultant provided a long and confusing report that left the management team asking themselves, "What do we do with this?"

Approach:

Susan worked through the consultant's report and created a document from which the team could work. She structured and facilitated a meeting with the management team (approximately eighteen people) which yielded strategies, projects and initiatives. Although initially contracted for a single meeting, the team requested that Susan be called back in to help them with the tactical elements of their work.

Over time, the relationship improved and the two leaders were able to work together effectively. The next step was to work with the divided management team.

Results:

  • Changes made to the organization that increased occupancy and re-gained market share
  • A management team more skilled in making strategic decisions, identifying projects and creating actionable plans
  • A more confident and cohesive management team

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Marriage Coaching Case

Situation:

A husband and wife, married sixteen years with children ranging in age from six to thirteen, were in the "withdrawal" stage of intimacy (I don't really care about you or the relationship any more. I've given up). Both partners were seeing only the negative in each other and were bringing issues from their respective upbringings into any disagreements they attempted to address. They had begun to think about divorce.

Approach:

I met with the couple and listened. The only rule I imposed was that they could not interrupt one another while speaking. I made sure both of them had ample opportunity to share their perspectives. Each one focused entirely on what was "wrong" with the other. Predictably, the other's response was defensiveness and justification for his/her behavior. There was very little listening or self-reflection going on.

It was immediately evident that their DiSC® profiles were diametrically opposed, the wife an outgoing, competitive, risk taker, and the husband, reserved, collaborative and risk averse. The wife took an "I want to talk about it NOW" approach and would follow her husband from room to room to have her say. The husband, on the other hand, had an "I need some time and space to think this through before we talk about it" approach. They were trampling all over one another's needs.

Financially, the husband was extremely conservative, raised by a mother who would drive ten miles out of her way to purchase eggs a nickel a dozen cheaper than she could pay locally. He was convinced that if he let his wife have her way, she would lead them into financial ruin. The wife had been deprived of many extras during her childhood and perceived her husband to be "standing in the way of her fun", just like her father had. Whatever the topic of discussion, it would ultimately come down to their differing views on money.

I had them each fill out a DiSC® style instrument and explained the results to them. They began to perceive one another's behavior differently. "So he's not acting that way just to make me mad, it's how he's wired?"

Next, I taught them a basic conflict resolution model and helped them practice using it. We took a fairly simple issue (horse back riding lessons for one of their daughters) and worked through the model. The husband was against the lessons, the wife was for them.

I worked with the couple over a four week period, one session per week. By the time we had finished, they were on solid ground.

Results:

  • Renewed respect for one another
  • Genuine valuing of their differences (They realized they balanced one another out.)
  • Ability to work through disagreements and make decisions they could both support
  • Greater satisfaction from the relationship
  • Reduced tension in the home
  • An agreement that…
    • The wife would no longer follow the husband room to room when she wanted to discuss an issue
    • A discussion would occur within twenty four hours of the wife's or husband's request
    • They would schedule a mutually agreeable time within the twenty four hour window

Special Note:

This couple, now in their twenty-fifth year together, recently celebrated the marriage of their eldest son. I was honored when they invited me to the wedding!

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To find out more contact Susan by clicking here or call 352-318-4962.