Client Success Stories



+ Mission: Impossible


"We had difficulty meeting client expectations and deadlines."

I was the leader of a new team which had been asked to create an integrated communications plan for the organization, but we needed help. The team members had been pulled from different departments and plugged into jobs which did not necessarily match their talents. Further complicating matters, many of them were more comfortable working alone and did not understand how they could contribute in a group environment. Our productivity suffered; we had difficulty with meeting client expectations and deadlines. With recognition of this dysfunction, I asked the HR department for help and they recommended I contact Karen. Although the initial engagement was to address the team dynamics and individual productivity, during the time we worked with Karen the organization underwent a number of pivotal changes, such as the departure of our functional head, an organizational mission and strategy change, and two significant re-organizations.


"We learned how to work better with our colleagues."

With Karen's help, we assessed the talents of the team members and navigated the changes keeping productivity high during times of uncertainty and transition. We were able to redeploy team members to positions which would play to their strengths and still provide value to our stakeholders and internal clients, once we understood why people weren’t doing well in their existing roles. We also planned several retreats and exercises to reinforce communication and build collaboration within the team. Through this process of recognizing the skills individuals brought to the table and sharing these insights with the group, we learned how to work better with each other.


"Overall team effectiveness increased dramatically."

Over the course of our work with Karen, the group really came together as a team and made remarkable progress on a number of fronts. Everyone improved their individual performance, and the overall team effectiveness increased dramatically. Projects which were previously late or rushed were now being completed on time, and we were consistently meeting client expectations. With her guidance, I was able guide my team through the changes and improve functioning to a degree which would otherwise have been very, very difficult.


+ Hitting the Ground Running


"A large influx of funding had dramatically changed the focus and scope of our work"

While the organization I worked with had been in business for a number of years, we had recently received a large influx of funding which dramatically changed the focus and scope of our work. We had hired a number of new staff members to meet the additional demands. To support the organization during this transitional time, the CEO of my organization received funds to conduct a management study of our organization, and Stirling Advisors was selected. Karen was our lead advisor.


"It was an opportunity to learn about ourselves in terms of personal makeup."

As a part of the management study Karen met with each of the senior leaders and other pivotal staff members. The management study revealed that as an organization we had hired the right people in terms of fit to mission, but not all staff members were a good match to their specific jobs or the culture. Further complicating matters, we were not in full alignment with one of our external partners and that relationship had become very strained. We were still in the ramp up mode, and in a “heads down position” feeling the pressure to deliver on our new commitments. It was not always easy to achieve balance given the many competing priorities, but we carved out the time for leadership meetings, staff retreats, and planning sessions.


"We strengthened the organization a great deal, because of the work Karen and her colleagues at Stirling Advisors"

As a result of Karen and her team’s involvement, our work environment shifted dramatically. Just based on our ability to understand the differences and similarities of our co-workers, we experienced better communication, more efficiency, and got along better as a team. Karen’s work also helped us learn how to hire differently. Once we could see the personalities and the makeup of the organization, it was easier to see where the gaps were and how to fill them.
With the encouragement of the consultants at Stirling Advisors we established a leadership team with consistent meetings and check-ins, we found ways to include the entire staff when appropriate, we re-structured to better fit the reality of the flow of work, and we were led through strategic planning sessions that helped us to gain clarity about direction and tactical steps in order to achieve our mission, objectives, to plan for the future, and to navigate the difficult relationship with our partner.


+ Talent Redeployment Amid Organizational Changes


"A newly appointed president resulted in our department needing to redefine its mission."

Our organization had just acquired a new president/CEO, and our department was reassigned to a newly-hired vice president. Amid all this change, there was a lack of understanding as to the precise role we played in the organization. In addition to the need to define our specific function to our new boss, she was the third supervisor we had reported to in seven years. Our department was struggling to cope with changing expectations and the need to readjust our individual goals. I had worked with Karen previously on individual coaching, so I once again sought out her expertise.


"We spent a lot of time and energy assessing people's skills."

Karen worked with my staff, interviewing all of them to craft a comprehensive story of my department. With this information, we worked together to reorganize my existing staff and ensure the right people had the right roles. Equally important was having the right number of people, and with Karen's help we added two new people to the team. She taught my staff and me how to manage up – knowing the style of our boss and how to anticipate her needs.


"My department gets praise and accolades."

Karen and I took the story we wrote and presented it to my boss, giving her valuable insight into our role in the organization. Our department not only survived this transitional period, but we thrived. By placing the right people into the right jobs, we increased efficiency and streamlined our operations. Since working with Karen, the deep-level management skills she taught me have allowed me to quickly assess people and shift them around when needed. My performance reviews have confirmed this – not only do I feel we're doing a better job, but the people I work for do, too.


+ Transforming a Chaotic Environment


"My job was in a state of complete chaos and dysfunction."

I was a new manager in an office with a work style radically different than what I was used to. The problem was compounded by the fact that my office reported to an organization that did not understand this cultural difference. Their expectations were a far cry from the reality of the situation, and I needed help aligning my office’s capabilities with the structure of the organization. I asked the organization for help, and they referred me to Karen.


"Karen assesses, analyzes and articulates solutions."

The first thing Karen did was focus on me as an individual and help me relax in this very stressful environment. Then she started working with my colleagues, interviewing and assessing to root out the underlying cultural difficulties. Together, we were able to bring the problems down to an individual detail level so I could address one issue at a time. Karen then worked with the group as a whole, outlining the basics of organizational culture and showing us the role that our office filled. While there was some resistance and skepticism from the staff, our meetings were wholly useful. During the process, our productivity improved and our professional relationships became stronger.


"I understand this culture, environment and society in terms of my work and my life."

A direct result of Karen’s involvement we were able to take control of ourselves and our office to maintain productivity. We put processes into place to improve our organizational structure, create clearly defined roles, plan for hierarchical development, and set boundaries between our office and the organization as a whole. She also helped me as a manger to understand that I already had the skills I needed to effectively manage my team. Without Karen’s help, we never could have implemented these standards of operating procedure that we desperately needed to function within this unusual arrangement.


+ From Stagnation To Growth


"...the group had become stagnant."

I was in charge of a sales region with strong earnings history, but the group had become stagnant. Some of our main accounts had hit on hard times, and we had seen a corresponding decrease in volume and profits. When we reached out to Karen, it was to get an outside perspective on our company. We needed analysis and recommendations on how to get back on track for growth.


"...examined the structure of the business."

Karen’s presence was well-received by my staff. She first interviewed the other regional VPs to learn how my sales region fit into the organization. She then interviewed some of my salespeople to gain a bottom-up understanding. Together, Karen and I discussed the results of her meetings and examined the structure of the business.


"...we addressed these concerns and developed a new business plan..."

The process helped the organization recognize the problems behind the difficulties my staff faced. Karen showed us that we had a very experienced group of salespeople, but the compensation plan was designed to encourage ongoing account maintenance rather than new account growth. Also, many of the staff was approaching retirement and we had not discussed how to replace them and train new hires. With Karen’s help, we addressed these concerns and brought a new business plan to the executive branch.


+ Building a Cohesive Department with Camaraderie and Trust


"...we were challenged to come together in a cooperative and productive manner"

Our department was new and understaffed after a recent re-organization, leaving us with significant gaps in individuals' skills and undefined roles. In this environment, the department head focused heavily on production, causing our workload to soar. We were challenged at the individual and team level to come together in a cooperative and productive manner and define ourselves as a department.


"...mixture of individual and team interactions"

Karen's approach used a mixture of tools which targeted individual and team interactions. We met with her in one-on-one sessions, then as a group she would summarize information to help us understand the issues we all faced. She highlighted individual assignments to underscore our talents and discuss them in a team setting. Karen offered a process which allowed us to focus on the issues we faced as a new department and to jointly brainstorm and implement potential solutions.


"...rally around each other as a team."

Karen's consulting had a positive impact on individual relationships within our department. By vocalizing the root of our problems - increased pressure to produce without the resources to do so - Karen stimulated department camaraderie which allowed us to rally as a team. Support also grew for our department head, which gave the managers greater trust in each other and increased two-way dialogue. As a consequence of Karen's work, we experienced an increase in communication, a higher tolerance for risk-taking and greater support in setting and managing expectations with our clients.


+ Synchronizing Three Different Work Styles


"How were we going to learn to work together?"

My organization had just hired a new administrative assistant, who was both responsible to me and a colleague. To ensure we got off on the right foot with our new hire, as a group, we needed help adapting to each other’s work styles and personalities.


"Karen was welcomed by the group."

Karen sat down with all three of us to help us analyze the way we thought and approached problems. I took several personality tests, all of which provided significant insight. These test showed that my colleague and I were both in a period of transition, though our assistant, who was new to the organization, seemed to take to the change naturally. Afterwards, Karen helped us learn exercises which were designed to get us in tune with each other, such as recognizing each other by a particular personality trait or professional strength.


"I know much more about myself and my colleagues."

Though we are still in a transitional period as an organization, the work we did with Karen has helped us understand our personalities and function more efficiently as a group. My colleague and I are mindful of our assistant’s time, and often work together to make sure she is not overburdened. Karen also shared some of her results with the VP of our department. This information may help him to better understand not only our own individual work styles, but how we function in our roles within the unit as we all strive to meet the goals of the organization.


+ Designing A Leadership Program


"I was tasked with developing a leadership program for my organization."

There was recognition at my organization that leadership of programs was an important aspect of their execution. Towards this end, we found it necessary to create an executive leadership initiative, aimed at training leaders of the various organizations with which we worked. I was tasked with developing the program; identifying training resources, and creating lists of books and consultants which could then be publicized. My organization invested in leadership training for me with Karen, and with her guidance I set to creating these new resources and improving my own leadership skills.


"My own education about leadership was essential."

Working with Karen for my own enhancement helped me appreciate what leadership coaching could do for others. Through extensive discussions and probing questions, she helped me gain insights into my own strengths and weaknesses. She has a very gentile way of helping you face what might be keeping you from being the best leader that you can, and with her support I began to face and address these barriers. In designing the program, I would often ask Karen to review what I had developed thus far, and her suggestions and critique helped me gain a much better framework for the components that make leaders successful and how to cultivate them.


"I learned how the alignment of vision, skills and knowledge can make you a powerful leader."

With Karen’s help, I produced resource lists and made them available to our partner organizations. Since I had gone through the process myself, I could be both a better advocate for those who wanted the experience and have more credibility to encourage others to take advantage of the opportunity. I was also able to institutionalize the leadership program as a line item in our budgeting process so it would continue to have life. On a personal level, the lessons Karen taught me about leadership have stuck with me even to today.


+ Building a Focused, United Team


"...learning to work together and with new people"

I was working with a fairly new department which severely lacked any semblance of a team environment. Our functions had previously been carried out in multiple areas of the organization, and the transitional process of learning to work together and with new people had become a challenge for the group. Looking to increase our value to the business, we reached out to Karen.


"Karen just has this way of creating a safe environment, even in a group setting."

When we first started with Karen, I thought we were hopeless. Our department was one of the most dysfunctional groups I had ever seen, and we had some trepidation about an outsider coming in to help us. Within minutes of meeting her, however, people felt comfortable. I felt the most effective exercise we did was Karen's ‘Points of Focus'. It was great to acknowledge how everyone perceived and approached our department's difficulties, and with Karen's help we learned to form a united front and surmount them.


"Her style and approach really resonated with the team."

Over a twelve-month period, we worked with Karen in both individual and group sessions and learned how to function as a cohesive team. Often a group has trouble seeing its own difficulties, but Karen brought them to light in a constructive way. By focusing on internal client services, we have defined our role in the organization and increased our usefulness. Though the department is currently going through another transitional phase, the lessons we internalized from Karen have smoothed this process significantly.