January 3, 2018

Case Study – An Organization’s Engaged Pursuit

Pam’s team loved what they did and felt excited about the company’s mission. But survey results highlighted that they were unsure how to think about their next career move…

Happy 2018!

If you’re at your desk right now, I’m sure you’re getting slammed with emails now that everyone is back from the holiday (and ready to kick the new year in the butt).  The first workday of the new year, as well as the day after Labor Day, was always the most difficult for me – I’m sure many of you feel the same today. But don’t fret – some thought-provoking content is coming your way in this week’s edition of “The Pursuit” newsletter!

I want to continue sending you case studies for the month of January.  This is the third in a series, highlighting different client scenarios I tackled in 2017. My intent – to get you (or someone close to you) inspired to think about your own professional experience through my client’s situations, struggles, considerations, and eventual wins.  As with previous case studies, I’m changing the names of folks to keep everything confidential.

This week, I’d like to talk about Pam…

Here’s what happened:
Pam’s a Director with a big software company. She’s part of a larger organization that’s doing great things. Cool products, lots of buzz, the best people. She was proud to work for such an awesome team.

Each year, the company sends out an employee survey to gauge how things are going. More than just job satisfaction, the survey looks at the role of the manager, community involvement, innovation, and (most importantly) thoughts around career.

Pam’s team scored well in every category except career. Folks loved the work and loved the team, but were unsure around what was next.  They were asking questions like: “Do I have to stay in the organization forever?” and “How can I apply my skills to something new?” and “What options are even out there?”

Tough questions around the topic of career…

Here’s how she approached her situation:
Pam knew she needed a different solution to tackle this issue. Her team was on the cusp of disengagement.  One wrong move and the team could move from loving-life to making a run across the lake….

Pam knew what she didn’t want.  Not another training or another book or another certification.  She needed someone to come-in and help her answer the questions asked from her team highlighted above. She wanted to set herself apart as a Director and show that there’s a different (and more personal) way to manage career (and maintain engagement).

That’s when Pam contacted me.

Here’s how Engaged Pursuit came into play:
I sat down with Pam and talked about her team’s situation.

“This is tricky,” I said.  “Your folks seem super-engaged, but unsure how to think about what’s next. We need to protect this engagement and also let people know there’s life outside the current organization.”

Pam replied, “Yep, we need a solution that’s beyond ‘resume best-practices’ or ‘networking 101.’  We want something impactful, highly customized, and able to live well into the new fiscal year.”

With Pam’s guidance, I got to work.

Here’s what we did:
I built a highly customized program that would continue the team’s current momentum (and engagement) and also get them thinking about their career differently.  I created a three-hour “TED-Talk-Style” workshop, where the team would learn the basics of the Professional Story, build their own Elevator Pitch, and practice (as well as get feedback) with folks across the team. Pure magic.

Then, three weeks later, I sat down with each individual in the organization to talk about their Professional Story, see how they were approaching their career, get feedback on the broader organization and help with any blockers.  These 1:1 Career Coaching sessions then continued monthly for many of the team members.  More magic.  Lots of lightbulbs.

Here’s our results:
The team members started to approach their career in a whole new way.  Through the Professional Story, individuals got super-clear on who they were professionally and what made them tick. They could answer the basic questions, “So tell me about yourself?” and “Where do you see yourself next?” at the blink of an eye!

A quick post-program survey highlighted that the team loved the new way to think about career, found impact in the content, and thought the 1:1 Career Coaching sessions were really valuable. Wins all around!

Here’s what we learned:

  • Even at big companies, managing career is hard. For some folks, it’s even more overwhelming!
  • The Professional Story is such a foundation to managing career (I continue to see this over-and-over). Light bulbs instantly go off!
  • Solutions don’t need to be super complex. A couple-hour workshop, self-discovery, and some 1:1 time is all it takes to build career momentum.
  • Organizational engagement must include career. Folks can like what they’re doing, but if they don’t have an understanding of what’s next, team engagement is at risk.

Your homework this week: If you’re a manager, think about your own team. Do they need help with their career/thinking about what’s next? If you’re an Individual Contributor, ask your manager if s/he thinks Engaged Pursuit could be a cool/different/impactful way to build excitement.  Let’s chat if you want to brainstorm more!

Coming-up next week:  The path to something new doesn’t come easy. I’ll highlight the continued work of one client who hasn’t quite found the perfect fit … yet!

Here’s to your Engaged Pursuit!

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