Joe Tessier, Executive Director International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 117, Seattle, Wa.

117 is the third largest Teamsters Local in the country having merged with a number of other locals, gone from 14 to 41 employees, and consolidating five offices into one, a lot of restructuring in a relatively short period of time!

We found our culture — the way we worked with one another — didn’t keep pace with our growth, making it difficult to manage all the complexities, creating a lot of staff conflict … and we were wasting a lot of time and effort trying to keep a lid on the personal issues that affected how we performed individually and together on behalf of the members.

Plus I and my boss, the President, were sending mixed messages on who was in charge, and we wanted to bring things forward with our expanded management team instead of just one or two individual carrying the ball.

Rob’s coaching has had, frankly, a liberating effect on me, making it easier to be more direct with people about performance issues instead of dancing around, avoiding them or worse burdening myself with their responsibility to be successful.

Look, the thing I realized is that I was, in effect, trying to be everything to everybody and not doing that great a job with any of it as a result. He helped focus me on what our core mission is and allow people to take their piece of making that work while concentrating more on doing my part to hold them more accountable.

He also led a retreat that helped my managers gain a new respect for one another, learn to talk things through better and organize better working relationships … so that it became obvious to us we can’t be a team if we don’t know, each of us, the other people on the team.

I see the whole organization communicating better, less personal issues getting in the way of the work, a lot less reactivity and a lot more openness and willingness to try new things. And I’ve become a better listener, working on letting people get it out before I respond, breaking a bad habit of thinking ahead too much, responding too fast.

Any manager concerned about increasing organizational performance can benefit if they’re willing to be objective and honest about not only other peoples’ part of a problem, but also what’s your own. If you do that, he knows right where to go to help crystallize your next steps and think things through strategically and tactically to be successful.

Joe Tessier, Executive Director International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 117, Seattle, Wa.