Coaching – HR Memories

Clipart by Phillip Martin

Clipart by Phillip Martin

There is nothing as rewarding or frustrating as coaching — whether it’s sports or music or business. You offer information and hope that some of it sticks. The successes are phenomenal but the failures are tough and can be disappointing.

From time to time I do individual job coaching. Most of it revolves around leaving a job or getting a new one. Occasionally it’s about advancement. I enjoy coaching because with my years of experience I have seen it all…literally. I am rarely wrong. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was wrong (at least at this).

The advantage of getting advice from an outside person is that we don’t get hung up on things like pride, self esteem and all those emotions that skew your problem solving abilities.

My mother was a tough old German who wasn’t big on “self esteem.” “If you’re not honest (she meant blunt), people don’t get it.” She also didn’t think all kids on a team or all teams should be awarded gewgaws so their feelings aren’t hurt. She always felt that you had to learn how to deal with failures and hurt feelings when you are young and I think she was right. Perhaps the up kick in violent retribution is a result of not being able to process failures. Maybe not but who knows.

She also thought pride had its place but surviving came first.

If I had a magic wand I would take the emotions out of business because they don’t belong there.

I have listened to many sad stories only to tell the person at the end that they don’t have a legal case for a lawsuit. Favoritism or grumpy supervisors or uneven workloads are not illegal and just because you belong to a protected group doesn’t make it so. People are stunned and indignant. (Another case for teaching children how to cope with negative outcomes.) Sometimes they are angry at me.

Here is my standard advice for involuntary terminations (that’s when you get canned) but it works for other situations too:

  • Take 24 hours for a pity party but that’s it. Invite your best friend. Cry on their shoulder. Drink some wine. Trash a pillow or sob into your pet’s fur. After the time is up, it’s over. Now you have to figure out how to get what’s best for you.
  • Don’t seek revenge or “I’ll show you actions.” They only feel good while you’re doing it. Walking off the job should be saved for absolutely extreme situations when you are asked to do something unsafe or illegal. Telling people off is always stupid. You end up with bad references, no access to unemployment compensation and possibly no severance. The best revenge is future success.
  • Don’t even bother to throw out or delete your work so that “they miss you.” First they won’t miss you. Get over yourself. If you have been resistant or difficult to work with there will be a snoopy dance celebration when you leave. Second, these actions will enhance your reputation as a negative worker or non-team player. Face it, in most cases you are making it harder for your co-workers not your managers. Deleted files can be restored fairly easily.
  • Get someone who has no emotional attachment to you or your workplace to counsel you. Oh yes, they should be a Human Resource professional or employment attorney because we understand the laws. We can tell you that you have your “head up your ass” easier than a loved one.
  • When you think you were blindsided there were signs you refused to recognize. Businesses don’t make these decisions lightly because of legal ramifications. Once they make them, you can’t talk them out of it so don’t waste your breath.
  • Don’t set unrealistic goals for yourself as you will only get discouraged. Finding the right job takes time and effort.

Your focus at this point is full steam ahead. Be proud of what you learned or accomplished but don’t look back. People will admire you for your professionalism and will be a lot more likely to recommend you for a job.

It sounds so easy doesn’t it? Throw in some hurt feelings and some well-meaning friends who are ignorant of the laws and you can see how hard it is to keep a clear mind.

28 thoughts on “Coaching – HR Memories

  1. I love nothing better than the unvarnished truth like you’ve given here. I love your point that “The best revenge is future success.” The vast majority of people who are separated from their companies end up in jobs where they are much happier. They get there faster if they avoid the pitfalls you describe here. And…you’re right about the Snoopy happy dance! Great piece.


  2. Great piece Kate…
    I realised that a new Boss wasn’t on the same wave -length and was making all sorts of changes in the work place. I didn;’t wait to be pushed, I jumped, and she was very cross!!!


  3. Thanks Kate, I really needed this. I just learned that I won’t be able to keep a job I really thought I was doing well at…my emotions have fourteen in the way and this was a good kick in the butt.
    You touched on several things that I really need to work on.


  4. An employer blindsided me once when he forced me to resign. He said I wasn’t measuring up to his expectations on the job. But it appears his real motivation was he didn’t want to pay someone to replace me while I was out for gall bladder surgery and recovery. At that time, it would have been 6 to 8 weeks.

    During his time there, he turned over every full-time position of 8 or 9 employees within a year. I was told by the company’s HR person (a friend of mine) that I could have stayed and fought it because he hadn’t followed thru on the company;s policy of: warning, time to improve, and then dismiss. But I left and had the surgery. When I returned to work, it was at the place I had worked at before this company. It was the best thing that could have happened to me professionally. So I fulfilled one of your excellent tips: “The best revenge is future success.”


  5. I love…cry in your pet’s fur…that’s good advice if I’ve ever heard some. You have your mom in you…I can hear her..if you didn’t you probably couldn’t be so honest with people. it’s so hard working with others. I’m grateful I go from job to job in a sense that, if someone’s an asshole there’s and end sooner than later. I’ve been released from jobs but it’s usually because they decided to go another way. I do know being so over sensitive, I’d have lots of issues working for a company. I blew a really good writing gig because I hated the editor…she had no sense of humor…it was painful, but in hindsight, I should have found a way to make it work for my writing’s sake. You are very smart Kate, and it certainly comes through. Susannah


    • Deciding whether or not you can put up with someone is an individual thing. I have moved on from some managers that weren’t working for me and hung on too long with some managers where we clicked. In the end it all came out to my advantage or at least I thought so and isn’t that all that matters? Not taking a job for someone where you don’t click is tough and I think you probably made the right decision.


    • I am a firm believe that most (I said most) people want to do a good job and feel good about it. If they are not doing a good job, even if they appear lazy, it’s probably a job fit issue. They can be a success elsewhere. I think it’s hardest when you are happy in your job and then it changes for whatever reason and that has happened big time in the past 5 years.


      • That’s so true. Several years ago I was working at a job I loved. The people were great and my commute was a breeze. One day I went to work and found out our corporate office was shutting our location. It was one of the most difficult challenges I’ve ever faced. After a stressful 8 months of being unemployed, I found a new job. This job is a better fit for my personality and it enables me to save 3x the amount for retirement than my previous job. Things do have a way of working themselves out, even when you think it’s the end.


  6. I agree-people think everything is a lawsuit. It’s always better to lick your wounds (I like the one day pity party rule!) and move on with your life. Having been on both sides of the fence–chances are in 6 months you’ll look back on this as the best thing that ever happened to you.


  7. As a former manager in various business settings, its amazing how uninformed some employees were in regards to their legal rights, especially when it came to breaks, scheduling, and compensation.


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