Many women are reconsidering their career and developing new goals. Some are considering their career options in their current organisation, but many are looking for new ventures, including going it alone. I would like to look at how we as coaches can help them prepare for a career move and thrive in whatever new position they have chosen.
Careful preparation is the key to a successful career move. Why do women need this more than men? Because they need the security of knowing they have done their homework. Women tend to feel less able to wing a situation than men. We can ask questions that help the client to be aware of the planning she wants to do and encourage her to carry this out meticulously with strong action plans. In addition, we can do a guided visualisation to uncover any hidden issues that need to be worked on. This is easy if the client has already been to the location of the new job, and has perhaps also met the new team, but is still possible if this is not the case. The client’s imagination will do the trick; allow her to imagine the setting and the people. Once she has started the new job it will be useful to do the guided meditation again and see if any new issues have come up. The guided visualisation is a powerful way of bringing questions to the surface which can then be explored.
Networking is a given in preparing for a career transition and will be important at every stage. We can ask the client to map her network as she sees it in the context of her proposed career move. Women are aware of the value of networking, so this should be easy. The coach’s task is to challenge the client to populate her network map with more contacts, perhaps with people whom she does not know yet know, but who it would be beneficial for her to know. How can she reach them? Does it need to be a cold call or can she find a mutual contact or another way to meet that person, e.g. at a networking event or a conference. Women will be more open to finding a way to use personal contacts. Networking is such a valuable activity that the career coach should encourage the client to do this mapping several times: when she is thinking of the career move, when she has several options, and when she has narrowed those options down to concrete opportunities. It is useful to ask the same question often: “Who would it be helpful to talk to?”
We know that women generally suffer more than men from a lack of self-confidence, and this will definitely come into play during a career transition. The coach will sensitively use tools such as affirmation work to allow the client to accept her competence and ability to succeed. Reinforcing techniques are also helpful together with acknowledgment and recognition of small successes. There is nothing to compare with the feeling of satisfaction that you can share with a client when she overcomes her doubts and does it anyway, and it is important to celebrate her successes with the client.
Communication is important at all stages of a career transition, and here the coach can work with the client to map the key stakeholders to whom she must communicate her strengths, her successes, and her ideas. You can encourage the client to write a script in preparation for a specific encounter. It is also useful to work with the client to identify in a more general way what she feels it would be important for the new manager and team to know about her. Ask the client to decide whether verbal communication is sufficient, or whether some things need to be in writing. This has become more urgent since the pandemic as hybrid working arrangements may hinder good communication. Perhaps it isn’t so easy to let one’s views be known and there is a risk of something important not getting through to the manager or the team.
The story of a client of mine demonstrates this. She had taken on a new job in a new city, but not where her family (partner and child) were living. She had accepted the job offer on the assumption she would be allowed to work largely from home, as had been the case during the pandemic, travelling to the office location in another country only occasionally for meetings. She was dedicated and fully engaged, delivering good results, working with no problems with the team and with stakeholders. The sticking point was the manager who wanted her in the office. There seemed to have been a complete communication gap – my client was adamant she had made it clear she wanted to tele-work most of the time, but the manager maintained she had not been aware of this. Through coaching my client accepted at least partially responsibility for the breakdown in communication and we worked hard at finding a solution.
Once the client is in the new job, constellation work can be extremely useful. The coach can ask the client to map not only her immediate team, but all the interlining systems, including her personal contacts, family, friends, etc. It is always a revelation for the client to recognise links that exist – or that should exist, and the work needed. As the new girl on the block, she is the one who must do that work.
These four areas; preparation, networking, self-confidence, and communication are key areas where a coach can make a difference to a career transition and make it that bit easier.
Career and Leadership Coach Susan Doering is passionate to help clients solve challenges and achieve their goals, by guiding, empowering and enabling them to work at their best.
Susan is also the author of : Smart Career Moves for Smart Women. How to Succeed in Career Transitions
Read more blogs from Susan – Should we career coach women and men differently
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Coaching managers, high potentials and leaders to achieve professional success and fulfillment