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Career Coaching: An Idea That’s Helping Both Job Seekers and Those They Left Behind

29 October 2009 Written by: Cate Valentine No Comment
Career Coaching: An Idea That’s Helping Both Job Seekers and Those They Left Behind

People are losing their jobs. This is not news. We know the reasons and they continue to be recounted to us each day in the media.  A constant stream of negative information. The continuing financial crisis causes many of us to feel helpless, hopeless or worthless.

Being part of an organisation that is struggling to stay afloat is not a happy experience. Not for any of its people. As the ship lightens its load, jobs disappear. Lucky employees are offered lifeboats in the form of generous payouts and outplacement services.  For many though, it feels quite literally like being thrown overboard. Dumped into a cold, harsh sea and forgotten. As the boat moves away, the people in the water stare at each other, in shock. What now?

Well, now it’s time to remember you know how to swim. Yes, you do. It might take some practice but you’ll find the old moves return. These are the mechanics of getting back on track… re-working your CV, getting around job sites, preparing for interviews…

You also need to chart a new direction. People often forget that this needs to come first. They get “busy”, swimming madly, in different directions, only to find themselves back where they started, drained of energy and the will to do more.  A clear direction must come first.

Coaching, in such cases can be a “lighthouse”. It can help you see the way forward… but, it is not a rescue vessel. Most people do not, in fact, need a rescue vessel. Your skills, your competencies, your unique personality and all the things that make you a great person to hire- are all still intact. These are things no employer can take from you. In this way, your job security resides within you. Coaching will give you the space to discover these qualities and then mobilise them in a direction you choose. Once you are swimming in the ‘”light”, the challenge of reaching your destination safely seems a whole lot less daunting.

What if you are still hanging on to the boat? Sadly, many companies exact a high price from their remaining employees. It’s assumed the “survivors” should be grateful to still have jobs, so they get given other peoples jobs to do as well. New skills must be learned on the job because the training budget is slashed. Not only do companies have to do “more with less” but they also need to do “better”, so performance benchmarks get raised and more pressure is applied.

“Survivors” have seen their colleagues go down and are full of fear. Some leaders think fear ‘keeps people on their toes’. This might work for short-term productivity gains but medium to long term, low morale and stress will collect their dues. Illness, disengagement, low commitment… and when the market picks up, the good people disappear in a heartbeat.

Crisis situations have a history of bonding people and groups together, so companies actually have an opportunity here. If you are a “survivor” in one of them… so do you. You are not trapped on a sinking ship.

Coaching again can help you generate options for yourself: perhaps a strategy to maximise your effectiveness or even obtain your dream job. Perhaps a calculated departure. Whatever you choose, a coach can help you see your situation differently and put you back in control of your own destiny.

Coaching is not the answer to everything, but it can help people navigate a rough sea, to emerge in quieter waters, stronger and more focused than before.

Cate Valentine has 14 years of corporate Human Resources experience helping companies maximize the contribution of people to deliver on the organisation’s goals. She has worked internationally in both generalist and specialist roles across the HR value chain, including: recruitment and selection, people development, career and performance management and change management. Her experience spans several industries, countries and cultures. Communication and the quality of relationships are the cornerstones of all her work. She provides individual coaching as well as training in written and interpersonal communication. Cate holds a degree in Industrial Psychology from the University of South Africa and a National Diploma in Human Resources Manage


Cate Valentine

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