Coaching Case Study By Tsui Ying Lim
(Career Coach, SINGAPORE)
As a child, I love reading the book “The Little Prince” a well-beloved timeless classic that has mesmerized millions of readers till today. As an adult, reading it again has brought me learning lessons that I had not discovered when I was young. I remember a quote by the fox that said
And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one sees rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
Antoine De Saint-Exupery- The Little Prince
And so it is with this “simple secret” and frame of mind that I conduct my coaching sessions. To simply focus, see and listen with the heart.
Amy is an executive in her forties and is currently looking for a job after taking a year break from her previous job to rest due to medical reasons. She has since recovered and ready to re-join back the workforce.
- Despite years of relevant experience on what she is doing, Amy is still facing some roadblocks in getting a job.
- Although she is willing to try other alternative career options and have applied for those positions that interest her, the response and result has been lackluster.
- She is feeling disappointed in these job attempts and hopes that coaching can help her in managing her disappointment in her career search as well as assisting her in the job search process.
Coaching skills applied – Active Listening and Powerful Questioning:
I started by asking Amy about her recent interviews and the outcomes of those interviews and how she felt after that. She mentioned that there were a few phone interviews and she finds it challenging to do telephone interviews than face-to-face as the focus may not be there and due to time difference, sometimes, it is done late at night and she is not used to it. As some of the job opportunities are regional, telephone interviews can be quite common and frequent, I begin to ask her how comfortable she is with telephone interviews and how she can improve on it. she mentioned on a few good suggestions such as identifying a quiet place in her house conducive for interviews, wearing a business jacket so that she feels “ready” and business-like in her attire to conduct the interview professionally, as well as not to speak too fast and to be prepared for technical glitches at times due to connectivity.
Coaching Model used – Wheel of Life:
To know more about what job roles that interest Amy, I asked her what did she like and dislike about her previous job and she spent a bit of time describing her previous job role and experience. From her sharing, I can tell that she is still passionate about what she used to do and perhaps missed those highlights in her career. I proceeded on to introduce her to the coaching tool – Wheel of Life or in our case, “wheel of career” where she identified the 8 key areas that important factors that she look for in her career and to rank them in importance and priority. Through this exercise, she realized some factors were more important to her than she thought and some were not as important as she imagined, eg. importance of work-life balance taking precedence over salary. Through actively listening, I have also pointed out a key factor – creativity which Amy mentioned earlier but did not list in the key areas. This exercise showed Amy what are the things that matter to her and hence providing greater clarity on her key considerations when she applies for the next job.
Observations and Action Plan:
Emotionally, the job search is taking its toll on Amy, although she tries to be positive and upbeat about the process, I can sense from her tone of voice and body language that she is getting more anxious and down as the day goes by. Amy shared on a previous job experience where she went through 6 rounds of interview but yet did not get the job in the end. She hopes not to let history repeats itself. When I ask her to describe on her feelings when these interviews do not go well as expected, she mentioned feeling “useless” and a sense of lost. When I ask her what does she do to manage these feelings, she replies that she reads books as well as send in more resumes and prepares herself for the next interview. I then asked her to share some accomplishments since stopping work and she shared that besides helping out in doing household chores, she also did some volunteer work in church. She seems happier when she mentioned this and continued on that perhaps it’s time to do more volunteer work in church to take off her mind on the constant job search. I encouraged and affirmed her on those things that she did, although it may not seem important but are still meaningful activities. These activities not only helps to take off her mind momentarily on her job search but also to pass time purposefully. A sense of gratefulness and thankfulness to do the things that one loves always keeps the mind at peace and hopeful for the future!
As for her action plan, Amy has identified on a few key items:
- Sending in more resumes through various platforms but now keeping in mind the key factors to look out when going though the job applications
- Preparing herself adequately and improve upon telephone interviews
- Keeping herself occupied with purposeful work in the meantime before the next job opportunity comes along.
My Key Takeaways:
My focus on “listening” with my heart has helped me to develop trust with Amy as well as empathy towards how Amy is feeling throughout this job seeking process. With trust and understanding in place, Amy is able to share her thoughts and feelings without any inhibitions and reservations and that has helped me to not only understand her better but to be able to ask impactful questions which are key in helping to draw out the “answers” and directions in her.
Listening intently and actively has also allowed me to ask pertinent questions that help to re-frame the whole situation and allow her to see it from another perspective which helps to unlock some key issues in her heart.