Case Study #1
Meet the Client
Career Role: Director – Marketing Sales Enablement Software
This client faced a challenge many of us do at some point in our careers — transitioning to a new position. The client would be leaving a role that she was very good at and taking on a new role. So much uncertainty to face, right? It’s common to feel anxious, hesitant, or even overwhelmed as we move on to the “next thing” in our careers.
In this case, the transition was a lateral move for the client, but thankfully, into an area of marketing that she had more interest in. For her, it was a smart move that offered greater growth potential. On the negative side, the company she worked for was acquired by a large company which was adding to her stress and uncertainty.
Coaching for Success
The coaching challenge was how to help this client let go of the old role and move successfully into the new one. She had a hard time putting herself first and setting boundaries. She wanted to be able to tell her story about what it is she does well and what is important to her. Essentially, she wanted to be seen.
At the start of our six-month coaching engagement, our first goal was to say “goodbye” to the old role. She took small steps to let go, removing herself from Slack channels and meetings she no longer was responsible for. As she became comfortable with that (no bad things happened, by the way), she moved on to the practice of saying “no” to activities that did not serve her future role.
The transition to the new role was ambiguous. Direction from her leadership regarding her transition was lacking. The solution? Coaching her to develop her own transition plan to present to her boss. She used a framework I provided to develop actionable steps and create a plan. Her boss appreciated this proactive approach, and she was able to move forward. In the short-term, the goal for the client was learning how take responsibility for the success of her own transition.
Next, she took on the goal of how to have effective conversations with leaders and her own team. By focusing on delivering clear expectations and asking fact-fueled questions, she began to showcase her strategic thinking to her leaders. She delegated and learned, “I don’t have to have all the answers, I just need to know where to get them.” As a result, her stress level decreased!
The client benefited from the coaching experience, saying it was a “good balance of things I could put into practice immediately, and thoughts for a mindset shift.” She knew she struggled to let go of her old role, and appreciated the analogy I provided her of going back to a house you used to live in. You loved it the way it was and are outraged that the new owners changed things. The takeaway? It’s okay, it’s not your house anymore.
As we wrapped up our engagement, she reflected that her biggest learning achievement was the mindset shift that it’s okay to let things go and to walk away. Ironically, confirmation of her achieving this learning goal came in an unusual when she said to me one day, “Remember that old house story you told me a while ago? Funny thing is that I just drove by my old house and noticed they were getting rid of all the appliances. I got mad, at first, as they were perfectly good appliances. Then I said to myself, there’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t matter, it’s not my house anymore!”
Case Study #2
Meet the Client
Career Role: Tech – Software Developer
A talented software developer was unhappy in her current role. She preferred to work alone and was struggling to work in a team. She felt there was little opportunity for advancement in her position, and really didn’t like the company she worked for. She needed clarity on what her next steps should be. What she did know was that she wasn’t a happy person, didn’t have energy to pursuing her personal interests or goals, and needed to incorporate discipline into her life to help her achieve greater work-life balance.
Coaching for Success
The coaching challenge for this client was helping her to discover her energy drivers. She recognized that her mood improved when she worked out and also when she studied to advance her craft. But she felt she had no time to do either of those things.
We worked on time management together. She experimented with different times and schedules that might fit her needs and allow her to pursue what mattered most to her. She discovered that working out in the morning and studying after work was the approach that worked best. Once that was identified, my role as coach was to serve as her “accountability partner” to ensure she met those goals.
Providing her with practical approaches to increase her activity levels, I suggested she set four alarms to get herself moving. After a couple months, she woke up before the alarm. She established a strong habit of working out and studying. Her energy levels greatly improved!
That led to adding a couple of other hobbies she had been ignoring because she thought she didn’t have time to enjoy them.
What’s more, with improved energy, she embarked on a new job search! Assisted through coaching, she improved her LinkedIn profile, began interviewing, and for the first time, got speculative calls from recruiters. But knowing that a job hunt can take time (and even more energy), my next goal was to help this client find greater satisfaction in her current job.
I asked, “What can you do to make your job better for you?” We examined more closely the parts of her job that brought her the most satisfaction and joy. Then, determined a strategy of how she could seek out opportunities to do those things. She asked for additional projects and was involved in tasks that she enjoyed. Rather than dreading work, she was now more energized as she took control of what was happening and contributed to the team. She is still looking for a new role, but this is okay for right now. In fact, it takes the pressure off the job search. That way, she can discover the job that’s truly right for her — one that propels her to an even bigger role.
When asked what the greatest change was for the client after coaching, she identified the benefit of her coaching was her personal mindset shift. She said, “I focused on the process not on the goal. Small steps that snowballed. I became better able to manage my time and to focus on what gave me energy.”
The client admits that she now takes better care of herself. In fact, she found a whole new approach that works for her saying: “I started this thing that may sound a bit crazy. I sit in silence at the end of my workday, breathe, and just look out the window at what’s going on.” I was glad to hear that through self-awareness she had discovered, quite by accident, the benefits of mindfulness and meditation practice at work.
Case Study #3
Meet the Client
Career Role: Leader Development – Manager to Director Medical Equipment Engineer
This client struggled from the same epidemic many working professionals do — effective use of their time. Call it time management, being overworked or under-resourced, or lack of skill in delegating. You know that feeling. Being pulled in ten different directions, unable to meet everyone’s expectations, and feeling unproductive, unsatisfied, or depleted in the end. It’s a common concern. But the lack of time management skills often can mask greater concerns or other important needs that can be revealed through effective coaching.
Coaching for Success
I got right down to business with this client by discussing her work calendar. She was frustrated! She wanted to know how to manage her meeting schedule and stop others from blocking off her time for their priorities. She felt pulled by others in all directions. She identified “time management” as her biggest concern. My approach as a coach is always to work with what is important at the moment for my client (but knowing there’s usually more to be addressed just under the surface).
After a few sessions, I asked my client was there something more that she really wanted help with. Her response was telling: “I want to be on the leading edge of a product that will save lives!” So, I asked, “What do you need to do to get there?” Her answer? “I don’t know.” That was the issue, just under the surface, which was quickly becoming her greatest obstacle.
Over the next few months, she worked on developing leadership skills, having difficult conversations, and “managing up” to a difficult boss. She hired team members who could replace her if she were promoted within the organization. A vision of what she needed to do to get there slowly, but more concretely, emerged. She would need to lead the team that was creating the product that would save lives.
As her leadership was being recognized, she began to talk to senior leaders about her goal. The result: she was offered a position as a director in a newly created role. I asked her, “How will this lead you to your goal?” As we worked through those answers, she presented her case to senior leaders, and she was promoted into that position.
The next challenge was how to align the team to the mission, and work with another team leader who, in her eyes was trying to sabotage her efforts. With a bit of “imposter syndrome” holding her back, she learned to let go of her perception that she needed to know everything and to have all the answers.
Keeping her eye on the ball, we role played difficult conversations with leaders and teammates. She built up some “muscle memory” and confidence by presenting fact-based discussions to achieve positive outcomes. She stopped worrying about what the team leader was doing and focused on what she could control. There’s no doubt in my mind that, having seen my client’s tremendous growth, we’ll one day see a life-saving implant with her signature prominently on it!
Case Study #4
Meet the Client
Career Role: Senior Director – Financial Services
Toxic work environments. They’re fraught with miscommunication, poor leadership, stifled growth, rapid employee turnover, unrealistic expectations, and most notably, a total lack of respect that can quickly leave you feeling burned out and unmotivated. Unfortunately, my client found herself in such a work environment under unprecedented circumstances.
It was a couple of months into the pandemic shut down. She had interviewed and started her job working from home without meeting anyone face to face. While it was not a new company for her, it was a different department and a role that she was encouraged to pursue. Yet, she felt put down and disrespected by her boss. It was definitely time for her to do some investigating and personal discovery.
Coaching for Success
In situations where there may be misalignment between personal values and company or departmental values it’s best to use an assessment tool to discover where the “pain points” may be hiding. My client knew that communication at work was difficult. So, I recommended she take the DISC® Assessment. This tool identifies different communication and behavior styles that people naturally project. As we dove into those results two things emerged. In her current role, she was doing a lot of adapting from her natural style which was depleting her energy bank. Second, her boss had a completely different communication style than she did. As she learned to adapt and speak in his style, which was fast paced and direct, she was more effective in her own communication. She was able to self-monitor her personal reactions to his communication with her, identifying them as nothing more than just his communication style. To her, understanding how these styles differed was a bit like learning a different language.
While her present work environment got more bearable, the client determined her future goal was not to remain in her current role. So, through coaching, we got busy identifying what motivated her, what type of company she wanted to work for, and who could help her to find that position. She kicked up her networking game and landed herself in a role with a company that seemed to check off all the right boxes!
Except it didn’t. Organizational changes immediately after she got there created an ambiguous environment. One of the values that we identified in coaching was that she needed clear guidelines and expectations. She was frustrated and discouraged yet again.
Yet, it was clear she had made significant personal progress through her coaching experience. What was different this time is she didn’t blame the organization but focused on what she could do differently. She did her best to communicate her needs and expectations at work but continued to network and search once more for a new job. Perhaps this time she would find the right fit position for her.
As both fate and intention would have it, a couple months later she accepted a role back in her old company! This time it was a job she had always wanted. Thankfully now, she is in a more supportive environment where she is using her gifts and talents with a clear vision of success.
Sometimes the map we draw for ourselves doesn’t necessarily lead us to the place we want to be in a direct route. It’s the detours and rest stops along the way that cause us to pause, reflect and intentionally take the next step. Through hard work and personal discovery, this client realized her professional career is an exciting journey and not a simple destination.