Third Phase Coaching Ltd

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Couldn’t See the Wood for the Trees.

The Problem

Alex came to me with issues about time management and productivity. No matter how hard he worked, he just couldn’t seem to get up to date. He wanted help with prioritising and hoped that would let him get back to spending time with his family.

Managing two inner city practices, he was also director of a separate company and was working on an important project for a government department. In addition, he still wanted to deliver client service personally and had additional responsibilities as a mentor for professionals in training.

He felt guilty about not spending more time with his teenage children and was painfully aware that before long they would be leaving the nest. But his deep sense of responsibility to his colleagues, his clients and professional body meant that whenever he failed to finish all that he had promised (which was pretty well all the time) he felt even more guilty.

The Process

It was easy to establish the root cause of Alex’s problem. He was working constantly at 100% of his capacity and, as he hadn’t been able to take a holiday for over 18 months, was becoming tired and jaded. As his productivity fell off he became frustrated and relationships with colleagues started to suffer. On top of everything else, he now felt unappreciated.

This was an unusual project. There was no need to examine business processes or the performance of other members in the team. This was all about his personal values and motivations. What were the drivers that caused him to overextend himself to this degree? What rewards was he getting from being in this highly pressurised situation? What other areas of his life was he able to avoid or ignore by becoming irreplaceable?

Fundamentally there were three stages to the process. First, get Alex to recognise the actual problem. Next, help him understand what his underlying issues were. And then help him plan and deliver the changes needed for him to live a balanced, fulfilling and happy life.

In the first two stages there is always the risk of alienating the client as you challenge their world view and their beliefs about what the problem is. Luckily Alex was a brilliant client to work with. He had realised just how serious his problems were. And he had a really strong driver for change - the desire not to miss his kids growing up.

The Outcome

We worked together for just 7 months. Alex understood very quickly just what the problem was and worked hard to build day to day awareness of underlying motives and to take responsibility for changing his approach.

The first breakthrough was after four months. He agreed with his fellow directors (who I never met) to sell the company he was involved with. He then renegotiated his involvement in the project and reduced the time he was committing to it. He was still able to make a difference, but the load was spread across more shoulders.

But the biggest result was in evenings, weekends and holiday time with his family. In the time we worked together they had taken one holiday and had another booked for the month after we finished.

Since then Alex has gone on to retire from one of the practices he managed.

If you can identify with the story of this business owner and would like to discuss how things could be different, please contact us.