Coaching Case Study By Melinda Mui Hua Tan
(Career Coach, SINGAPORE)
Six months before turning 62, my client, Clarissa, was informed by Organisation A (which she had been working at for the past 44 years) that they would outsource her tasks to a third-party contractor. The options offered to her then was to continue her reemployment contract with the third-party contractor at a lower position and take a huge pay cut, or to retire upon reaching 62. She chose to bring forward her retirement and left the organisation,serving a 24-hour notice.
Setting the Foundation
At our first coaching session, a month after Clarissa left Organisation A, she looked distraught and demoralised. She described herself poignantly, “I am feeling very hurt and tired with the secular world…no matter how hard you work, you are deemed useless the moment you are near the retirement age. The organisation discards you like a used sofa…what have I done to deserve such unjust treatment….”. I gave Clarissa a safe space to share with me her feelings before asking her what her objective of this coaching session was, Clarissa shared that she hoped to find a solution to her current plight and be able to move on and enjoy her retirement.
I used this opportunity to share with Clarissa, what coaching is, including the distinctions between coaching, consulting, psychotherapy and other support professions. We further established an agreement on the coaching process and its relationship which we both mutually agreed upon. At the client’s request, we agreed to meet over a span of three 75-minute sessions to focus on the issues raised by Clarissa – to find a solution to her current plight and how to enjoy her retirement.
Active Listening and Powerful Questions
Clarissa stressed that she had served the organisation for almost half a decade and had invested all her youth in Organisation A. She lamented at length the unfair treatment she received from Organisation A, prior to her being forced to retire early. She shared that she felt so powerless and useless to be treated like a piece of used old furniture. I allowed Clarissa to vent her feelings for a reasonable length of time, so as to listen to her inner feelings, before intervening. I intervened by paraphrasing that she had repeated the words “angry,”“disappointed,”“powerless” and “unfair treatments” several times throughout her conversation, and asked her how these feelings were impacting her current state of life; what she thought her retirement would be like, if she was not feeling as such;and, what she could do to free herself from this dead knot.
After much deliberation and more powerful questioning, Clarissa came to recognise that she was trapped in her own world of resentmenttowards her former employer, which resulted in her being stuck in the current situation and prevented her from moving forward.
In addition, she realised that she had subconsciously allowed the negative feelings to function as an excuse for herself to camouflage her fear of the early retirement, which she had not been mentally prepared for.Some of the fears which surfaced during our discussion were:
- the loss of regular income and her career identity;
- her circle of friends/colleagues at her workplace;
- how to remain active besides working; and,
- should she even consider searching for another job
In short, she feared the unknown ahead.
She acknowledged that she needed to come to terms with what had happened, recognised that it was an issue of the past and let go of her resentment towards Organisation A, in order to move forward and focus on achieving a meaningful retirement for herself.
I commended her for her self-realisations and asked her what she thought she could do to release herself from her resentment against Organisation A and re-channel her energy into overcoming her fear of retirement, building a brighter future she deserved.
Adopting the assessment tool, ‘Wheel of Life,’I invited Clarissa to map out the key areas/values in her life which matters most to her. This provided her a visual perspective of her current priorities and identify the gaps in areas which she would like to work on. This exercise allowed Clarissa to have a clearer picture of what needed to be done, which in turn helped to boost her confidence in facing retirement.
With Clarissa’s permission, I shared the 3-step Rest-In-Peace (‘RIP’)and 3-step Rise-In-Glory (‘RIG’) tools which I have developed, with her.
The RIP tool aims to help in removing negative thoughts/resentment from a person’s life. The steps are:
- Record on a piece of paper ‘what did the other party do that causedme to resent them?’;
- Identify how these negative feelings impact my life; and
- Put this paper away permanently by burying or burning, as a means of getting rid of the negative feelings.
In contrast, the RIG tool aims to give power to help a person to bounce back in life again after a fall. The steps are:
- Record on a piece of paper ‘what aremy strengths and values in life which matters most to me?’;
- Identify ways thatI can apply these strengths and values to help myself move forward in setting specific and executable goals; and
- Go and act swiftly on my plans to achieve my goals in a timely manner.
With this, I encourage Clarissa to create an action plan with results that are attainable, measurable, specific and have target timeline and be ready for discussion at the next coaching session.
At the end of the session, Clarissa thanked me for helping her see the other perspective of retirement. She expressed that she can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. She is now aware that retirement will also open up a whole new world of opportunities in life which she could never imagine before. She is determined to go forth and set out her action plans to realise her dreams and live her retirement to the fullness.
In Singapore, we have a retirement age, and a re-employment age. Factually explains:
Our minimum retirement age is 62 years old. This means that employers are not allowed to dismiss any employee below age 62 because of employee’s age.
From 1 July 2017, employers must offer re-employment to eligible employees who turn 62, up to the age of 67. This provides older workers with more opportunities to work longer, if they wish to do so, while at the same time having the choice to retire when they have reached 62.