COACHING CASE STUDY: From Frustrated to Ready to Take on What Lies Ahead

Frustrated
James (name changed to respect his privacy) felt like his position was no longer a good fit for him. He had worked his way up to become a director and was performing well. However, he was feeling frustrated. He had a new supervisor who micromanaged. After years of working for people who trusted him to do good work, the treatment from his new boss was irritating. He was also frustrated by frequent questions from his team. He had a lot of knowledge from many years of experience in the field and the company. As a result, people saw him as the “go to” person for quick, accurate answers. While he enjoyed being a resource, the constant interruptions made it difficult to focus on what he needed to get done.

I was ready for a change. I’d been with the same company for a long time. I was performing well as a director, but I was not a fan of what was going on with the people dynamics. I decided it was about time for me to look for another pasture. I knew I could do more, but I was not sure what that next step would look like.

I told one of my close friends from undergrad what was going on, and he immediately recommended Alida. He gave me overwhelmingly good feedback about Alida and his experiences working with her.

After an introductory call, James decided to sign up for 4 months of coaching.

After that first call, I knew I was ready. I really liked Alida’s approach to coaching and how she set up the components of the program.

Getting Started
James jumped into his coaching experience. He and Alida first addressed his frustrations about his current role.

Alida really helped my mindset shift around the constant interruptions I got from my team members who had questions. Through our coaching conversations, I began to accept that my role as the leader is to enable the rest of the team, and sometimes that will mean making sure they have the information they need to perform their roles well. The moment I made that mental switch, everything fell into place, and I accepted those ‘interruptions’ as part of my role.

To address his new supervisor’s micromanaging behaviors, James and Alida collaborated on ways to proactively keep his supervisor updated so that he did not feel the need to constantly check in on progress.

With support, James also started his job search. He took the steps he had been putting off for a while. The first thing he did was update his resume. After a few rounds of feedback from Alida and her team, he felt confident sending his resume out. He also created a strategic plan to both connect with and grow his network. He began having engaging conversations – reconnecting with old friends and colleagues while also making new connections. Not long after, he got an interview request for an interesting position located across the country.

During each phase of the interview process, he worked to carefully prepare. He was thoughtful about how to use the limited time he had with each interviewer to learn what he needed about the role while showcasing how he was a great fit for the position.

He also had crucial conversations with his wife.

My wife and I had to make a personal decision about whether or not we were ready to relocate. The support Alida offered as I balanced thinking through both the professional and personal sides of the interview process was critical.

Through coaching, James learned some key interview strategies.

I learned to never get into the roles of “one up” or “one down” during the interview process. I reiterated to myself that I bring a certain skill set to the table and to look at the other person, the interviewer, as a partner. We are two people having a discussion about whether or not this would be a good fit for both of us.

Interviewing is a huge mindset game. Throughout the process I kept telling myself, they have a problem and I have a solution. This is just a discussion about that. As a result, I feel good about the way the entire process evolved.

Ultimately, the company decided to hire someone who was already local. However, many positives came out of this first interview experience.

Out of 14 candidates, I ended up in the top three. They chose the local candidate, but I feel really good about making it that far in the process. I was able to make critical decisions through those interviews.

My wife and I now know we are willing to move. If a new opportunity is presented that will take us elsewhere, we are willing to make that change. That was a huge barrier to cross. And my wife and I were able to cross it together.

I also have all the steps in place to repeat the process. I’m continuing to network and I’m ready to update my resume for specific positions and prepare for interviews.

A Change in the Economy
James was ready to take on the next round of interviews when the economy started to go south. He works in tech, so he slowly began to see fewer and fewer available leadership roles that interested him.

He and Alida quickly regrouped and came up with a new plan: while he waited for better roles to be posted, he would shift his focus to one of his longer-term goals and do what he could to make the most of his current role.

I’ve always wanted to teach in a community college. But I was daunted by the thought of overhauling my resume for that role. I always thought that was something I’d do later in my career. Alida gave me a lot of tips for adjusting my resume for a teaching position. And I quickly made those updates and started applying.

Additionally, James continued to work on improving things in his current role.

I’ve had some good conversations with my boss about expanding my role and responsibilities. He’s starting to delegate more of his responsibilities to me which is giving me more visibility across the company.

One thing I’ve learned throughout my coaching experience is I was looking for a lot of external validation from my boss, validation he was just not giving me. I learned that it’s up to me to acknowledge what I’m doing well and what I need to work on – instead of waiting for someone else to do that for me.

And you know what, the other day he and I were conversing about something, and all of a sudden, he says, ‘Stop. I need to tell you that without you being in your role and doing what you’re doing, there’s no way we would have gotten this far on this project.’ He just said that out of the blue. That was huge coming from him.

Ready for What’s Next

This coaching experience gave me the opportunity to step back and look at my life in a holistic manner. I took a look at the professional part of my life and have done a lot of work to make sure I continue moving in the direction I want to go, but I have also thought about what I need to do for myself. I noticed I had let some of my hobbies go and had let work really creep into my personal time. I now realize how important that balance between my professional life and my personal life is and I’m making time for both.

I came into this coaching program looking for a job, wanting to make a transition. However, I had no idea the economy and technology space would change so much.

However, this coaching experience gave me the chance to be incredibly proactive. I’ve had time to think about what’s really important to me. My wife and I are prepared to relocate. And I had conversations with my boss that have really improved my current role. When the economy turns around, I have the contacts, resume, and mindset ready to make a transition.

 

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