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What Would you Do – Anne Example

What Would you Do – Anne Example
10 April 2020 John Moore

We will be publishing a series of short case studies based on scenarios where our Performance Coaches have provided coaching support to managers. The names and organisation details have been changed to protect the identity of the different parties, but the scenarios are as real situations.

Case Study #1: Giving Direct Feedback
Read the following scenario. Reflect on the questions at the end of the blog and share your ideas and thoughts with the Exponential community.

Anne Example, the Head of Publicity at small enterprise called Public Speaking managed a small team when she first joined the company. One of those team members, Alexis Murray, now a senior Account Manager, is creating considerable stress and conflict within her team. Morale was falling, and deadlines were being missed.

It had been suspected for some time that Alexis had a drink problem (although there was no proof, only rumours). In addition, Alexis had a long-standing medical condition which impacted on her performance from time-to-time. Over the past six months, Anne had noticed that in addition to the intra-team conflicts and missed deadlines, Alexis’ work often contained mistakes and inaccuracies. Her work ethic was now poor, often she took credit for other people’s work and was frequently away from her desk for extended periods during the day.

Anne felt uncomfortable speaking to Alexis about the situation. This was partly due to loyalty to her as a colleague and because in the past Alexis had threatened to sue the company if she was selected for redundancy when the company was laying off staff suggesting the reason for her selection was on the grounds of her medical condition and NOT the reason offered by the company. The company withdrew the redundancy notice.

Anne tried to prevent the negativity and toxic comments made by Alexis from impacting on others by delegating jobs to her that meant that Alexis could work alone or from home. She also tried to give Alexis feedback and direction, but it was rarely accepted and often re-buffed.

Anne’s approach was ‘delicate’ and ‘considered’ partly because she never knew which Alexis she would be speaking too – ‘nice Alexis’ or ‘rude Alexis’. Anne also tried supporting the rest of the team. Sometimes she did this by simply saying what an excellent job they had done or thanking them for stepping up to fill the void left by Alexis when she was not at her desk. Anne also encouraged the team to focus on themselves and their work and NOT on what someone else was or was not doing. However, after several months of this, the team made a formal complaint and things were coming to a head.

Reflection Questions:

Take a few minutes to reflect on how you would handle the scenario if you were Anne:

  • What would you do in this situation?
  • Would it be appropriate for Anne to raise the issue of the suspected drink problem?
  • How would you have handled the situation differently to Anne?
  • What lessons do you think Anne should take away from this scenario?


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John Moore has over 20 years experience of training and developing Managers, Coaches, Consultants and businesses. As Managing Director of Exponential Training, John researches, speaks, blogs and writes about how to improve performance. He also designs and delivers engaging, fun and interactive learning programmes. John is a Fellow Chartered Manager and has worked with managers and organisations in over 20 different countries.