Outcome: Learning To Keep Her Job
A Psychotherapist-Coach Collaboration for
Client’s Personal and Professional Growth
Caroline, a skilled psychotherapist (her real name and that of the client are not used), did not have experience working in a corporation. However, Caroline knew Leigh and the coaching approach she used to help organizations—as well as individuals—improve workplace performance. Deirdre, Caroline’s long-time client, knew that the owner of a small company where Deirdre worked wouldn’t pay for Leigh’s consulting services so Caroline suggested that Deirdre hire Leigh as her leadership coach. She did. And she also gave Caroline and Leigh permission to speak and share information.
Deidre started in the mail room soon after she arrived in New York City from Greece. Over the years, she successfully took on new assignments and worked her way to the position of second-incommand. During this time, however, the company had changed from that of an ‘intimate’ small company to an expanding firm. She made regular trips abroad with the president of the company to visit global partners and was the point-person for negotiations. However, Deirdre was frustrated about many of the organizational changes and her relationship with the owner. In fact, when she showed up for her first coaching session with Leigh, Deirdre stated that her goal was to leave the company in order to secure a better paying job in a more hospitable workplace environment.
- One of the first ‘homework’ assignments Deirdre took on was to write a resume, the initial step in looking for a new job. She also began to look at career web sites to explore other job opportunities. She started writing her resume but it lingered in an incomplete state.
- Deirdre worked very hard and put in long hours at her job. To see where some growth might be for her to expand her horizons, Deirdre agreed to take a ‘work-life’ balance assessment. Conversations around the need to reach out in new areas and follow some personal interests—like buying a co-op apartment—got attention.
- During a conversation with Deirdre’s psychotherapist, Leigh mentioned the lack of progress on a resume. The therapist wasn’t surprised; in fact, she hoped that Deirdre would keep her job so that she could ‘work through’ the conflicts she had with the owner.
- Concurrently with assisting Deirdre explore career options, Leigh helped her client understand organizational behavior. Deirdre moved from personalizing interactions to taking a look at them from a leader’s perspective. Leigh gave her Harvard Business Review management and leadership articles to read as ‘homework.’ Deirdre enjoyed reading the articles and began to think in new and more professional ways about the organization and her performance.
- “Do you ever thank your boss?” Leigh asked one day after hearing Deirdre complain about him again. Deirdre was surprised; conversations ensued about how her relationships with her boss and with the other employees in the organization could be improved.
The owner of the business noticed changes in his valued employee. Deirdre earned a much deserved raise that re-established her commitment to the company. With Leigh’s help, Deirdre set up a model when working with her peers and direct reports, and practiced how to speak up in a way so the owner of the company could hear her voice. Deidre continues to work at the company.