Tom White, OD Manager for a US based law firm, was sent to Asia to do some interviews for the corporate in Asia and solve burning issues “on line”. Tom was top of his class in OD in an Ivy League University and he was also a certified coach. He had undergone study groups in Tavistock and T Groups in the States.
One of the Brits in the Bangkok office told Tom that he had heard gossip from a secretary that Lawyer Jai (f) was very upset with her subordinate Lawyer Phrem (m); Phrem (who studied law in the US and France) had shown a lack of respect to Jai on their last trip to a client in Belgium. Phrem pushed Jai aside by speaking out when Jai was looking for words and used his knowledge of French to make Jai look bad. What made this worse was that Jai was the account manager on the deal, and Phrem was supposed to be a quiet #2.
Tom approached Jai and asked for another meeting, even though he had interviewed her in the morning. “Hey Jai, can you tell me a little bit about what happened in Belgium as week.” Jai smiled and said the trip was `wely sasexful“.
Well, said Tom, can you describe the dynamic with Phrem-he asked.
Jai evaded and Tom then told Jai what he had heard, emphasizing the lack of respect that Phrem had shown. Jai felt she wanted to throw up and felt dizzy…..so she smiled.
Tom said,“I want to give you some direct feedback, Jai. Managerial responsibility entails the ability to provide Phrem with feedback so he can improve his performance and learn from mistakes. It also makes no sense holding your anger inside: do you see things differently“ Jai smiled and said“-ok Khun Tom“
Tom told Jai he would organize a 3rd party intervention that afternoon and Jai smiled.
Tom asked Phrem at lunch how the trip to Belgium went and Phrem told Tom how important it was that he was invited: “Jai is such a good lawyer and I complemented her oral English“, said Phrem who wanted to make an impression on Tom, who was at time struggling to understand Jai.
Tom asked Phrem if he would be ready for a 3rd part intervention w Jai and Phrem agreed. `Great“said Phrem.
Tom sat Phrem and Jai down in a room. The goal of the meeting was to debrief the Belgium visit in a no penalty zone environment and establish some lessons learned which can be agreed to and possible shared. (Jai felt dizzy)
There may be some disagreements, said Tom, but we can meet in the middle. After all, isn’t that the most sensible thing to do. (Jai was seeing double)
Jai was asked to describe what happened at the client site. She said: “Thank you so much, K Tom. But we is lawyers and we hap (have) mek (made) a good contac.“
I agree, said Phrem. “What is this meeting about anyway, Tom“-said Phrem-stabbing Tom in the back, and smiling at Jai.
Tom gave a short lecturette on managerial maturity and open communication. Jai asked him how he was enjoying his first trip to Bangkok.
Jai sent VP HR Asia and Japan the following email.
Dear Khun HR Manager,
Maybe Mr Tom can focus on Japan office or Singapore office. He seems to suffer from heat. He get all confyus and maybe not feel so good.
Thank you we not see him again.
That night, Jai sent Tom to a restaurant in a cab which passed thru a 2 hour traffic jam. The restaurant was closed due to reconstruction.