What should I do to progress my career?

It’s a common question we get asked and usually leads to a dialogue that investigates the underlying assumptions, stresses and issues that the client is facing. If their employer is part of the process we would engage with them to understand their desired outcomes.

In this particular instance the person concerned was dealing with us directly to try and move their career and life situation out of a rut. We started by probing to understand what the issues really were. This was interspersed with various psychometrics and inventories to show:

  • What the individual’s underlying strengths and weaknesses were
  • What their profile might look like when considering career options with a view to finding a better fit; and
  • How others might actually perceive them vis-à-vis their own perceptions of self.

What ensued from this initial cognitive behavioural approach was a recalibration of the client’s idea of self-worth. The approach used reflected our initial observations that everything was founded in the client’s self-perception and their view of what others probably thought about them. Helping someone to come to make sense of these very vague areas requires sensitivity and support until they are in a position to make more definite statements about what is going on.

One thing that surfaced was a resistance to change which was at odds with a wish for things to be different. Working together we helped them to investigate this dichotomy. It turned out there wasn’t overall resistance to change – but there had to be sufficient motivation to get going. As they say, if you do what you always do, you will get what you always got. Something has to change and that starts with the individual because otherwise nobody else is going to do anything different.

It’s not unusual for motivational issues to surface. On this occasion we then helped the individual through exercises to deconstruct their limiting boundaries. (As is often the case it isn’t an underlying resistance but a lack of confidence that prevents positive change occurring.) This was followed with visualisations to build a robust picture of what the future state might look like.

This is effectively a form of Gap Analysis. The first steps had built a more comprehensive picture of the present. The visualisation gave a good idea of the future required state. That then moved into a series of test steps, things to try and see if they were moving in the desired direction. For someone resistant to big change (not uncommon) we believe that building confidence through trial and error whilst in a safe coaching relationship truly helps.

Within only a few weeks we had identified the threat imposed by doing nothing. The self-limiting resistance to change was steadily reducing personal options. Once this was appreciated it became much easier to remove the limits and start to build positive experience. A good example of coaching helping transition from a Fixed to a Growth Mindset. We then focused on embedding the Growth Mindset whilst supporting the person as they reshaped their perceptions of what was possible.

Overall the result has been a marked improvement in perceptions in the workplace and a greater self-confidence in social situations.

The client worked in the IT function for a large police force and had recognised the need to alter their circumstances rather than staying in the same unchanging role.