'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
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
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
'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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