The unexpected can be overwhelming, and it’s difficult to decide on the next steps. There is no right way, but here are optimal ways of handling a layoff.
A midlife career change can be very daunting and requires careful assessment. After the age of 40, many people working in service, go through those times wondering whether they are really enjoying their work. It can be the same for you.
At the beginning of their career, perhaps you were excited about the job, meeting new people, working with new technologies, working in a big organization. Over time, the work seemed monotonous or you just didn’t get the satisfaction that was expected. It’s also possible that you discovered new interests, were looking at flexible work hours, or just simply, earning more money.
Under such circumstances going for a career change is a great idea. However, before taking such a decision, it is necessary to evaluate the present scenario. For that, here are my 6 conscious thoughts that might help you in making a midlife career change:
1 – Why do you want to change your career?
There are two primary reasons for you to be motivated to change careers. One, you are motivated to move away from something that’s not working for you (like the work environment, the company culture, the nature of work, or just extreme work-pressure). Second, you are motivated to pursue specific interests and activities that you always wanted to do but could not due to other compulsions. Hence, it’s important for you to understand why you are looking for a change. What do you expect in your new career that you are not getting here?
2 – Are you clear on what you want to do in your alternate career?
Before planning any change, assess well what would be different when you do change the career. How would you like your new career to be? How will the change affect the people around you, especially your family members and your social circle? Brainstorm with your family and a few close friends. Consider your strengths, carry out some research and evaluate the new career options. Discuss with people who will support you, but at the same time also discuss with those who critique you. This is the best way to find out the pros and cons of the decision.
3 – Consider working in the same industry
Look at work opportunities where you can utilize your existing skills. For instance, with whatever skills and work experience you have gathered over the years in your industry, would teaching professionals or recruiting people in the same industry be an option?
4 – Value alignment and skills
It is important to align your core values with the demands of the work that you do, that will help you to stay positive irrespective of what career or job you seek. So, spend some time and understand what is important to you in your new avatar. Also, evaluate whether your current skill-set is sufficient for your new career, or will you require a different skill-set? If the new carer is a different industry, then it’s also possible that you may have to unlearn a few things. Estimate how much time you would take to learn this new set of skills.
5 – Understand the pitfalls of a midlife career change
The best way to understand the snares and dangers is to speak with multiple people who have traversed the same journey are now in the profession that you are looking for. What worked for them, and what didn’t! Learn from their experience. Put down all the possible challenges you could face but more importantly, for each of them, write down how you plan to overcome them.
6 – The Decision must be always yours
After considering all the parameters, the final decision for change should be only yours to make. Take complete responsibility for that decision. Also, it’s always a good practice to write down your ‘changed’ resume, meaning, what your resume would look like when you have taken it up with your new clients or companies.
Having done a successful career transition myself, I now enjoy coaching people to help them achieve theirs. Do reach out for any questions and I would be happy to help. Midlife career change doesn’t have to be that daunting.
Dealing with Change in a new Role
You frequently need to make changes This means that employees should be ready to adapt to different situations and responsibilities that they are given. Although change programs may focus on providing strategies, technologies, and trainings, these really are not enough. Changing behaviour at the individual level becomes a very important part of the change programs.
This article explores typical situations that you come across, the challenges you face, and how these could be handled.
Consider the following situations –
1. You have been promoted to a new role, and given additional responsibilities. You have all the good wishes of your well-wishers, and you are confident to handle the role. You feel that you have the skills to take this on. But when you actually start working in that role, you find managing it, quite different than what you thought it would be, for instance, the people do not respond to the way you thought they would, you are not able to convince the management on some of the decisions you took, you suddenly feel more ‘negativity’ around whereas everything seemed to be going well earlier, etc.
So what has changed here? How would you deal with it now? With whom do you discuss this?
2. You have tasted a lot of success in your organisation having reached your targets, being able to drive your people effectively, being able to convince the management of the decisions you take, etc. And then, you decide to move on, and join a smaller-sized organization at very senior level (say a CIO position). Since you performed so well in your past, you want to take that confidence into this new role that you have now. You decide to use similar strategies of dealing with people, and other success strategies that have worked so well for you. However, you suddenly find that things are not working the way you expected, for instance, there is lot of intervention from the company promoters, the quality of the people is quite different, major attrition issues, lot of conflicts between people, a few people find it hard to accept you as their boss, etc.
You wonder how you handle this now, and you keep trying harder.
3. You have been working as a successful executive in senior roles in well established organisations. You decide to leave the current organisation and start your own business. You have been doing all the planning meticulously, and finally take the plunge. When you actually start working in your business, you find that all is not going as per plan. You have to deal with the monetary pressure, you need to look into every little aspect in the business, a lot more interactions with people you hire is required, then there is the family pressure, and many other ‘hidden’; challenges that you did not envisage earlier.
If you study the above situations, the one thing that is common is that, although you have been successful till now, the change in the role brings in different kind of challenges that you have to deal with, and the success formula that got you here, doesn’t necessarily work in the new role. So what has to change?
Let us analyse this, and look at ourselves more closely.
1. Our Beliefs impact our Potential, and our Potential gives rise to Actions which in turn, produces the Results. Hence, our positive beliefs produce successful results and this in turn, reinforces our beliefs to produce better results. From this, we assume that so long as we continue to behave this way, we will continue to experience success. So we say to ourselves “I am successful because I behave this way”. We believe that our behaviour is fine and does not require any change.
2. We like to hear what we want to hear, i.e. we tend to accept feedback from others that is consistent with the way we see ourselves. We like to hear wonderful things about ourselves and this reinforces our beliefs. But, we reject or deny feedback from others that is inconsistent with what we think and feel. So our self-image makes it very hard for us to accept the need for a change.
3. We tend to over-estimate the contribution to our projects. We like to credit ourselves more than we actually deserve. This infact, can be a major obstacle when behavioural change is required. Have we really analysed ourselves carefully on this front?
4. We like to believe that our behavioural and managerial skills are sufficient to get us through this new role. We might even have an elevated opinion of our skills as compared to our peers. Hence, we are comfortable with the way we are managing and do not believe that a change is required. This can, infact, go against us. For instance, based on our past success, suddenly more responsibilities are thrust on us expecting us to do the same, in the new role. Since we believe that we can pull it off because of our past success, it is hard to say ‘No’. If we are not careful, then this can actually pull us down very badly.
Handling the Change
1. Nothing happens without a readiness to change: An eminent change management expert once said “People don’t change a minute before they are ready”. One cannot force people to change – one can only help them if they want to. Hence, the desire, the motivation and the commitment to make the change has to come from within us.
2. Adapting to the Environment: The environment around us plays a crucial role for our success. This includes the people we deal with, the policies, and our knowledge. Any new role brings in change in our environment but the general tendency is to blame the environment for our struggle. Hence, how we adapt to this environment, becomes a very important factor.
3. Change in Attitude and Behaviour: A lot of importance is given to talent and ability in a person’s career and we feel that without these, success cannot be achieved. However, having the right attitude and behaviour are far more important than talent or ability, because beyond a point, it is our attitude and behaviour that matters most. Talent breeds ego, and it is this ego that can pull us down. When we let go of the ego, we are open to better listening to others, open to more learning, accepting feedback from others, and willing to change our behaviour.
4. Changing Habits: It is important to replace old habits with new ones. This is more easily said than done. A senior manager of a company once mentioned to me that he had a big problem in managing his time at work. While speaking to him, it became clear that he spent a lot of time writing long emails to his subordinates and expected them to take action. The outcome was that his subordinates soon started to ignore the emails or missed some of the actions because of the length and the frequency of the emails, and so not all the tasks would be completed.
Apparently, previously this manager had handled not more than 3 to 4 subordinates and this habit worked well for him at that time, but now the team had increased to 7 people. The habit of writing long emails needed to be changed. So, this habit was replaced by a 20 minute stand-up meeting every morning with the team, where an action tracker was maintained. The impact of this was, (i) it freed up his time to carry out other activities, (ii) subordinates were clear what was needed to be done, and (iii) personal rapport with them increased, which overall increased the efficiency.
5. Put them in Action: Make a list of the changes you wish to make, and inform key people around you of your plans. Plan this out in such a way that you work on just one behavioural change at a time. Get a frank feedback from them at a periodic basis.
How can Coaching help you ?
Engaging a qualified coach, will you help in:
- Getting completely different perspectives from an independent entity (the coach), i.e. deeper learning about yourself and how you are perceived
- Understanding your strengths and areas of improvement based on inputs from your stakeholders that the coach would have obtained
- Getting the coach to lean on for emotional support, empathy, and encouragement, and discuss in confidence
- Getting unstuck from your dilemmas and providing new learning for yourself
- Identifying and implementing the areas of improvement in a structured and systematic manner, and getting regular feedback from the coach
- Improving on specific skills such as communication, delegation, conflict management, team
building, persuasion, etc.