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Case Studies: Media Company

Change, Transition, Investment…Helping a New Executive Become His Best

One of the sure-bets in business during the past 10 years has been the inevitability of
change. Sometimes rapid, sometimes incremental, feared or embraced, change is a
constant companion in today’s environment. Some people can ride the wave of change
like a champion surfer shooting a North Shore curl, while others crackle like an exposed
live wire. Given this knowledge, a company’s ability to manage change, meet its critical
objectives, and establish a stable work environment is dependant upon the executive
change-agent’s persistence, style, and ability to effectively persuade and motivate the
diverse personalities within his or her sphere of influence.

Without this ability, an executive hamstrings his effectiveness, diminishes the company’s
reputation, while also jeopardizing his long-term success. Such was the case with a media
company that SEE Strategies was called upon to help.

The Challenge
The Company in question had recently been acquired by new ownership. With the change
in ownership also came inevitable changes in leadership within key departments of the
company. Having a clear vision of where he and ownership wanted the company to go,
the senior manager hired a dynamic executive to head-up one of the most visible and high
profile departments within the company.

“He did exactly as we asked. Our expectations were met. However, during the
transitional process we experienced some difficulties.” The senior manager reflected.
Because of his aggressive and direct style, the new executive’s decisions, and sometimes
his blunt, no-nonsense manner created tumult and friction within the organization. As a
result there was a higher than expected turnover, low morale among long-standing staff,
and some employees lodged complaints. Many felt the work environment had become
extremely tense. Although effective in meeting expectations, the new executive had not
engendered the respect of his team. While possessing the technical expertise to
accomplish certain goals, he lacked some of the soft-skills that create long-term success
with an effective team. As is often the case, the means do not justify the ends.

As this scenario unfolded, upper management and company ownership became
increasingly concerned about this executive’s profile and effectiveness within the
company. And, as a publicly traded entity, ownership was extremely concerned with how
this situation might affect the reputation and performance of the company. That’s when
SEE Strategies stepped into the picture.

Process and Solution
Because of the sensitive nature of this assignment (helping an executive change his
personal style of communicating, etc), one of SEE Strategies’s prerequisites was that the
executive be open to change, without defensiveness or resistance. When the executive
and the senior manager gave assurances that there wouldn’t be resistance, the SEE Strategies team went to work. Utilizing an extensive performance review of the executive
conducted by the General Manager (that also included a series of goals and objectives to
be met), the SEE Strategies team’s first step was in developing a 360-degree profile of
the executive, examining his strengths, weaknesses, and identifying effective strategies
that would help him adapt his work style. From these two assessment tools, the executive
worked with Larry Mandelberg in developing a plan of action. Larry met with the
executive on a frequent basis (every couple of weeks), providing asset-building tools and
techniques via a coaching relationship. Initially the SEE Strategies expectation was that
this process would take up to one-year. However, within three months staff members
were asking the executive, “Hey, you’re different, what’s changed?”

One of the most important factors in this successful intervention was that the Company
management elected to make an investment in this executive rather than replacing him.
Despite the transient nature of media, the benefits of investment outweighed the risk.
Given the situation, it would have been normal human behavior for the executive to offer
some resistance. But, Larry discovered him to be engaged in the process and motivated to
make changes. Through Larry’s coaching, the executive’s positive attitude, and the
willingness to make an investment by senior management, the process was extremely
successful, with positive results coming much faster than anyone expected. The executive
is currently using his newly refined work style to build an effective and dynamic team,
while senior management has become much more at-ease and confident in the
executive’s ability to meet the Company’s critical objectives.



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