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Oestreich Associates Career Repair

Career Repair and Rescue

There are times when a leader's credibility has suffered a blow, yet it is not too late to repair the damage and rebuild relationships. This happens for all kinds of reasons, such as:

• Lack of full preparation or experience for a particular role
• Lack of knowledge about the context of the work, including past organizational "baggage" and history
• Blind spots in behavior, thinking or temperament that have impaired relationships
• Changes to a job, role, or function over time
• Changing life needs or interests
• Lack of meaning in the work
• Emerging conflicts, mistrusts or antagonisms
• Technical expertise not balanced with relationship skills

These reasons can all be causes for major learning for an individual and an organization.

In addition to preserving employment, benefits of career repair and rescue work include developing more confident, trust-based and sensitive relationships and -- not a small thing -- personal fulfillment.

You might request this assistance for yourself, for a colleague, or for someone you manage or supervise.

My process represents a powerful alternative to traditional 360
º Leadership Assessments, as it relies on direct, not just anonymous feedback, and supports real and ongoing communication.

A Typical Path

In the section below, I am using the word, "client," to mean the person who is working to build his/her credibility and skills.

A typical path for this work is as follows:

1. A meeting with the client and key others (such as the client's manager) to discuss working together. This determines whether I am a good match for the client, the situation, and the organization. (Free of charge)

2. Development of a customized, brief proposal to assist. (Free of charge)

3. Initial planning with key players (such as the client's manager) to kick off the process, including selection of others who can offer insight and feedback.

4. Gathering feedback -- this occurs in one or two steps. Either I gather feedback on behalf of the client, or I first gather it and then facilitate three-way meetings with others so that the client can hear information directly. In preparation for three-way meetings, I share general feedback about key patterns and potential questions to ask; however, no information that identifies specific people is disclosed to the client. The three-way meetings are question and answer sessions in which feedback providers share only what they wish to share and there is no pressure or coercion to say more (or less) than they wish.

5. After discussion and in collaboration with the client, I prepare a thorough report of the behavioral patterns that must change and suggestions for meaningful action steps. This report is for the client's use over time. I typically encourage but do not require the client to share this report with his/her manager or whoever sponsored the work.

6. I provide coaching and follow-up with the client to ensure that the person is fulfilling the steps needed to build relationships and credibility.

In rare instances, as a result of this work, I may suggest to a client that the job or organization is not a good fit for him or her. I am direct and honest about this, basing my opinion on the ultimate well-being of the client, the needs of the organization, and the client's realistic chances for success.

Organizational Components

When workgroups or departments are in distress about a leader, there may well be many other issues about the organization itself that come forward as part of the effort to help and support the leader.

These issues can be about literally anything that up to the point of intervention has been an "undiscussable" source of mistrust and low morale, such as:

• problems with other leaders
• inadequate training
• lack of support for employees
• inequitable compensation
• perceptions of favoritism
• lack of or inadequate organizational structures
• lack of role clarity
• discrimination issues
• history of change
• poor work environment
• safety issues, and so on.

The feedback that surfaces for a particular leader, particularly one who has lost credibility, will probably include at least some of this undiscussable material whether or not that person actually has the power to change any of it. Under these conditions, my work as a coach for a particular client can also become work as a coach for an organization. In addition to the stream of action steps listed above, I can develop a separate track to help the organization address the full range of problems that surface. This work then intersects with consulting and facilitation services listed under
Team Learning and Organizational Assessment.

A Master of What He Does

"I have had the good fortune to work with Dan on three separate occasions providing feedback and coaching instruction, and on two occasions with conflict resolution of management team employees. He is a Master of what he does."

-- Bob Dodson, Superintendent, Fort Sumter National Monument, National Park Service