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Outplacement UK Case Study

'How to deal with a square peg in a round hole

The problem: Mark was first described to us as a 'square peg in a round hole' - an apt description, which Mark himself would not disagree with. As so often happens in these situations, for years no decisive action was taken to remedy this until a 'new broom' arrived in the shape of a new MD - Lawrie Quinn. However, this new broom had high ethics, was astute, and very creative in problem solving. This UK company approached us to see if we could solve the problem through outplacement or career consultancy.

Solving the problem: Lawrie Quinn, the MD for Cardiac Services in the UK, could see that Mark had great potential, enthusiasm and ability, but not for the work or the type of company he was currently employed in. However, he could also see that Mark was not able to refocus his career and successfully reposition himself in a new career alone. He therefore asked a few appropriate business contacts to recommend Outplacement specialists, and finally asked us to provide Mark with a tailored Outplacement service.

The journey: After 8 years with the Company and with no CV or interview experience, Mark was very apprehensive and was experiencing a confusion of mixed emotions. He agreed that a complete change of direction would be best for both his career development and his future happiness. However, the task of achieving that seemed very daunting. At times all he could see was a mountain of insurmountable obstacles, and felt that not even an outplacement consultant could help him reach the 'unreachable goal'!

When we first met with Mark, he was on an emotional seesaw swaying between paradoxical states of positive determination and hopeless despair. He was 'lost at sea' with no idea of where he wanted to dock, let alone how to chart the course! Undertaking behavioural profiling and the related consultation gave an automatic challenge to the negative emotions. 'How can you know so much? - How can it be so accurate?' he wondered. Enjoying the experience of his first consultation Mark's enthusiasm rallied and we set about the task of identifying and qualifying appropriate goals. This in itself is not an insignificant or a finite task. Career goals need to be realistic and achievable, with alternatives identified in case the marketplace proves inhospitable or the strategy does not yield the predicted results.

Having established some direction, the journey was underway. But this can be a volatile ocean that needs skill and precision to navigate, and whilst he now had the instruments and advice to help him, Mark was still at the helm. Fortunately, Mark has some very good character traits that helped to carry him through:

Firstly, he was very open and honest, and this extended to honesty to himself and about himself. As a result he accepted and acted upon constructive criticism, he did not react to challenges but carefully considered them. He thrived in an open and honest environment and had a positive attitude towards his own development and improvement.

Secondly, Mark was open minded and willing to learn. As a result he sought out and responded well to guidance; preconceptions were always open to debate. He listened carefully and followed through even, with the occasional prod, on the least palatable issues.

These two traits, coupled with his pleasant demeanour, enabled Mark to maximise his chances of a successful outcome.

The result: Just 8 weeks after our first outplacement and career consulting session, Mark has been offered the job of his dreams with an increase in his base salary, and positive career prospects. This is a remarkable achievement from a standing start when the normal recruitment process (from application to offer) takes anything from 3 weeks to 3 months.

The twist in the tale: When asked who, in business, he most admired, Mark answered 'Lawrie', the MD who introduced him to appraisals and had the unenviable task of counselling him on his bad fit to the role and the company. 'He's my role model' Mark added (and this was before he landed the new job!).

'Lawrie and Cardiac Services, I salute you. You've shown how a wise and caring manager faced with what presents as a lose-lose situation, can turn this into a win-win for all concerned.'


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