Brian wasn’t overwhelmed with what was going on at the office. That was the problem. He was underwhelmed, both with his stalled career path and uninterested management. A bright man, he was attracted to join a rival’s client origination department in a large New York insurance company because of the opportunities it offered him.
But he soon realized he was boxed in. His boss traveled overseas much of the time and Brian ended up doing much of his leg work – but without the VP title (he was an associate). He was passed over for promotion twice, but when he was finally promoted, he found his responsibilities didn’t change as his boss was reluctant to give up the favorite parts of his job (traveling and meeting clients). He saw no upward path, and spent much of his time complaining to colleagues about management’s lack of commitment to employees’ careers – but doing little about it.
Action plan: After hearing his story repeated many times, I finally asked: “How long are you going to sit here and talk about the same thing? Why are you still working there?” He made excuses, he prevaricated – he didn’t know. Slowly, he began to realize that he was never going to get anywhere at the company. If he stayed there he’d probably be miserable, doing the same job and feeling under-utilized in five years time.
So I asked him some hard questions, and over the next few weeks we worked on the answers. Where did he want to be in 5 – 10 years time? What were his accomplishments? What was he proud of? He and his wife had just had their first child. How could he create work/life balance?
I realized that Brian’s underlying problem was fear. He was simply afraid to even look outside for a new job. Its common – for many people, fear of the unknown is often worse than fear of the known. So I worked with him to help him identify what he had to offer employers. And encouraged him to reach out to his network, and start talking to people. The worst that could happen, I told him, is that he’d look and there’d be nothing out there. But he’d still have his job!
Result: Brian took the plunge. The next month, he told me he had an offer from another company, which he’d accepted. He relocated to the Carolinas, where he has a nice house, a better salary, and runs a department for a company he respects. He and his growing family have a much better quality of life. And all it took was overcoming the fear. Brian is still benefiting from the coaching process, and is now working to enhance his leadership skills.