Fred Zweiger is a vice president and investment consultant at a large branch of a leading financial services firm. Zweiger’s main responsibility is managing the portfolios of clients with over $300,000 in assets. Reporting to Zweiger are two office assistants, and his administrative assistant Maria Mehani. Maria’s main responsibilities are taking care of administrative tasks in relation to clients, such as making sure they complete the correct paperwork or computer forms, and arranging meetings between clients and Fred. Each client is supposed to have one faceto-face meeting with Fred each year to discuss his or her investment portfolio. Maria telephones the clients to encourage them to visit the office for the meetings. Relatively little contact with clients is conducted over e-mail, to minimize the security risk of account numbers or social security numbers beings stolen by hackers. Maria has worked as Fred’s assistant for three years. He has been generally satisfied with her performance yet believes that if Maria reached out more to clients she would help establish better client relationships, thus encouraging more investments by clients. Fred has also noticed that several clients have mentioned that Maria continues to spell their names incorrectly and needs several reminders on address changes. As a result of these needs for improvement, Fred decides to hold a coaching session with Maria. Later that afternoon, Fred drops by Maria’s desk about 25 feet outside his office. He explains that he would like to have a staffdevelopment meeting with her on Thursday at 4 p.m., right after the U.S. stock markets close. Maria responds with a smile, “Are you going to develop me to become a financial consultant? Or are you going to fire me?” “Somewhere in between,” responded Fred with a smile. “I’ll see you Thursday.” A partial transcript of the meeting is presented next. Fred: Thanks for being here on time. It was a great day on Wall Street, so I’m in a good mood to talk about your development. Specifically I want to talk about your development into a more helpful administrative assistant to me. Maria: I thought that I was already pretty helpful. I do whatever is required in my job description. Also, I stay late many times without overtime pay just to take care of office details. Fred: Maria, I am not accusing you of doing a poor job. I just think you could do a better job. You need more oomph, more push, more caring, and more warmth in what you are doing. Maria: More oomph, push, caring, and warmth. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I like my job but I wasn’t hired to be a cheerleader. Fred: If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it only proves that I’m right. You’re missing out on the subtle things needed to be an outstanding administrative assistant to an investment consultant. Maria: I feel like I’m being accused of not doing things that are not even in my job description. I was never told this job required oomph and warmth toward clients. Fred: But it is part of your job to serve our clients in the best way you can. You need to show them more concern and interest when they telephone you, or come into the office to see me. You should act like everyone is our most important client. To make matters worse, I’ve heard lots of complaints that you don’t spell some of the clients’ names correctly on the envelopes you mail them.
Maria: What do you mean by “lots of complaints”? Is that two, three, four, or one hundred? Fred: I haven’t kept a log, but I think you are making way too many mistakes with our clients’ names. A few of our clients with long Indian last names have complained the most. Just be a little more careful with the names. The big change I want is for you to make more of an impact on our clients. Form stronger bonds with them. Maria: How do you recommend I make that big change with all the other responsibilities I have? Fred: You figure it out. Maybe study a book about charisma or go to a human relations seminar. I’ll pay for it. That’s all I have to say on the subject for now. Maria: I’ll talk to you later, Fred. I am not very happy about our meeting today.
1. What is Fred doing wrong from a coaching standpoint?
2. What is Fred doing right from a coaching standpoint?
3. What suggestions would you offer Maria so she can develop warmer and closer relationships with clients?
4. What is your evaluation of Maria’s willingness to develop her job-relevant skills?