I recently met with someone who wanted career help. When we sat down to talk, she came unglued. Her company was going through a large re-org (who isn’t..) the team’s budget had been cut, uncertainty over who or what would arise from the ashes of the re-org, and she was being pulled 100 different directions. Sound familiar? When she regained her composure, she continued on to say her two bosses had not been as supportive as she’d hoped.
“Both [my bosses] have disappointed me tremendously. Neither stepped up when they should have.”
I told her I’ve yet to come across a boss that has not disappointed at some juncture, and so what else is new..
She did say that they had [to their credit] recommended a few months ago she get coaching. I asked her whether she found any she liked.
“I spoke to a few coaches HR had recommended, a couple I thought were OK.”
“They ultimately told me they had no budget, so nothing came of it.”
So here we were, months later, sitting over a coffee, listening to someone I’d just met tell me how bad things were at work..
It was not hard to see what she needed to do, at least as a first step. I told her what I thought. She immediately replied that was exactly the behaviour her bosses wanted the coaching to address. Which was—ta-dum..
Learn how to politely but firmly push back.
She was looking for someone–her boss, her bosses boss, her ex-boss, her husband, her family–anyone–to help fight the battles and pull her out of the sinkhole. She’d called her ex-boss in a panic, who in turn sent me a note, which was how I ended up talking to her.
But that is not how the world works. Expecting some else to run interference won’t last long. It’s always good—no, it is necessary—to enlist help within an organisation to consistently steer and leverage your goals. But she’ll need to learn how to take care of the issues herself, and be comfortable when firmly but politely pounding her fist down when necessary. We all need a repertoire..
The fact that “there was no budget” for coaching is not unusual, as its efficacy is still questioned by many. But guaranteed if it’s important enough–either to the coachee or management-they’ll find the budget or come up with a collaborative solution.
But her lack of coaching was symptomatic of being the victim, not knowing how to say “no” and waiting for a rescue from others. If and when she moves on, she will face the same situation again until she learns how to better fend for herself. The world is not a cruel place, nor an unfair one.
I’m not saying everyone has the same start off the block, but more often than not you-no one else-makes out of it what you want.
Destiny has a lot to do with it, but so do you. You have to persevere, you have to insist.
Written by Neal Horwitz, President of Henry Hale Maguire
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