Outplacement coaching

Is the organisation you work for going through a period of change? If so, you might be worried about the security of your job.

Losing your job through redundancy can be life-shattering. Since the recession hit in 2008, thousands of organisations have been forced to wind up or make massive staff cuts to save money. It's been a dark few years for Britain's businesses, and no more so than for the victims of those cuts.

Redundancy is often a totally demoralising and stressful experience. Not only do you have to deal with the shock and upheaval of a massive life change and all its side-effects, but you also have to face the mammoth task of re-entering the job market.

Outplacement coaching is a highly-specialised support service for organisations during times of change. A combination of leadership, management and communication coaching gives managers the skills and confidence to deal with the challenging decision process, while CV, interview and career coaching ensures redundant staff move as smoothly as possible to their next job.

What is outplacement coaching?

Outplacement coaching is a specialist support service drafted in when organisations undergo drastic restructuring. Corporate restructuring usually happens when organisations run into financial difficulties and can no longer afford to operate in the same way. Often, this is a nice way of saying a lot of employees are about to lose their jobs. Undoubtedly, this is an emotional time for everyone involved - from the people who no longer have jobs, to those given the unpleasant task of managing the cuts.

To understand the role of outplacement coaching during corporate restructuring, it can help to see the business as an old house in need of renovation, and outplacement coaching as the temporary scaffolding surrounding the structure. Scaffolding allows builders to get around the house, inspect damage, decide what needs to be done and to make the necessary repairs. In the context of corporate restructuring, the role of outplacement coaching is much the same. Coaching allows employers to see the organisation from the outside, to decide which departments or roles need to go and to work out strategies for redevelopment. Outplacement coaching props up the workforce itself by providing a support structure for staff who no longer have a job, before leading them safely to a new role by optimising their skills and employability.

What happens during corporate restructuring?

Organisations go through corporate restructuring when...

  • they run into financial difficulties and can no longer afford to run without downsizing
  • new technologies mean some staff are no longer needed (e.g. self-service in supermarkets, machinery in factories)
  • directors want to adjust focus to just one part of the business, or change direction altogether.

During corporate restructuring, a lot of very difficult decisions have to be made. If certain job roles or departments no longer play a part in the organisation's vision, then the people occupying those roles have to leave. At this point, managers will begin to draw up redundancy procedures.

1. Jobs at risk - The first step in the redundancy procedure is to inform all staff that their jobs may be at risk. This alone can be a stressful time as employees are expected to go back to work as normal, despite knowing they could be out of a job at any moment.

2. Selection process - The next few months will involve numerous tense meetings and one-to-ones during which individuals will be selected for redundancy.

3. Redundancy - Once the decisions have been made, redundant staff are informed of their job loss and the terms of their redundancy (i.e. their entitlements), before leaving to find new work.  

The role of the outplacement coach

While an outplacement coach has multiple roles, the aim is always the same: to make corporate restructuring run as smoothly as possible for everyone involved.
The two main roles of an outplacement coach are:

  • To support leaders.
  • To support employees.

Outplacement coaching for leaders

Corporate restructuring can be a difficult time for leaders, who must try to keep productivity levels high throughout the selection process. Trying to keep a team focussed and effective at the same time as warning them of potential job loss can be something of a challenge.

An outplacement coach can be called in to assist managers during this stressful time. Specific areas they address include:

  • Strategy planning - What do you need? What are the problems? What do you need to do to overcome those problems? Coaching is one of the best techniques for strategical planning.
  • Preparation for bad news - How do you go about telling a person they no longer have a job? Coaching can help leaders develop the right approach so they can handle unpleasant situations as sensitively as possible.
  • Leadership coaching - Do you need to adapt your leadership approach? Are you being too hard? Too soft? An outplacement coach will be able to assess the situation and advise you on leadership approaches accordingly.
  • Communication skills - Communication problems such as misunderstandings, personal tensions and passive aggressive behaviour can make a difficult situation even worse. Ensuring all grievances are out in the open, and knowing how to deal with them, is all part of being a good leader.
  • Performance - How do you maximise the performance of your team during times of low morale?

Decision-makers are inevitably seen as the 'bad guys' during the restructuring process. After all, they are the people who decide who keeps their job and who goes. It's natural for employees to feel some level of resentment towards management when they're put in such a powerless position. However, those people chosen to dish out the bad news are of course just doing what they are required to do for the benefit of the business.

Outplacement coaching can help leaders deal with the inevitable emotional side of corporate restructuring so they can deal with matters as fairly as possible without letting feelings get in the way.  

Outplacement coaching for staff

The main purpose of outplacement coaching is to help former staff move swiftly out of the restructured organisation and into another. Coaching can help clients deal with the emotional impact of job loss, the stress of change and the transition process itself.

If you opt for outplacement coaching after being made redundant, you'll have access to the following services:

1. Coming to terms with change

Work is a massive part of life - in fact, we spend most of the first part of our lives preparing for work as we make our way through the education system, and the rest trying to get, keep and do well at the roles we've qualified ourselves for. For some of us, all that time, energy and passion can end rather unceremoniously. Every year, millions of UK jobs simply cease to exist, and the employees who once filled those roles are thrown back onto the job market - often with very little warning.

Coming to terms with job loss, and the massive life changes that come with it, can be a challenge to say the least. People dealing with redundancy often experience a myriad of mental and physical side-effects, including the following:

Grief

For some people, work is more than just a pastime or a money-earner; to them, it's everything. Some people make huge sacrifices to succeed - they neglect other parts of their lives so they can inject every last drop of thought and energy into their work. Love, holidays, families, hobbies - all sacrificed for the career ladder. Imagine then, that all of your hard work ended in someone telling you your skills are no longer needed, and that your job no longer exists. It's easy to see how someone could experience feelings of grief after being made redundant.

Depression

Going from employed to unemployed so unexpectedly can wreak havoc on a person's mental health. When you lose your purpose in life, feelings of inadequacy, boredom and hopelessness can quickly set in - emotions that, if left unchecked for long periods of time, can result in depression.  

Relationship problems

Sudden job loss can have drastic effects on home-life. With work and money comes a certain amount of power and independence. Stripped of those, and it's easy to feel disempowered and inferior. On top of this, people are often forced to sell their houses, give up their hobbies and change their routines to cope with having less money. Resulting shifts in family dynamics can cause tension and lead to arguments among other relationship problems.

Health problems

Searching for a job can take anything from a few weeks to a few years. As a result, some people become increasingly inactive as they spend most of their time trawling for jobs online. On top of this, boredom can also tempt people to eat more than they would otherwise. Inactivity and overeating can soon lead to weight gain, increasing the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease among other health problems. 

An outplacement coach will try to help clients deal with the above personal side-effects of job loss, among others.

2. Career coaching

Career coaching is about looking at what you want. What motivates you? What sparks your passion and gets you feeling enthusiastic? Your redundancy could be a great excuse to make a complete career change. Is there something you've always wanted to do? During a career coaching session you will be encouraged to think analytically about your situation so you can come away with a clear objective for moving forward.

3. Build your personal brand

Once you know what you want, it's time to implement a plan for getting there. In order to attract potential employers, you will need to build your personal brand. This essentially means devising a unique selling point, or USP, for yourself. What can you offer? Why should someone employ you? Your outplacement coach will encourage you to write down as much as possible about your skills and strengths. Once you've created your own brand, you have a better chance of producing a concise, focussed CV.

4. CV preparation

When searching for employment, your CV is your most valuable possession. An excellent CV could be the gateway to the perfect job. Outplacement coaching will help you with CV preparation by providing professional advice.

5. Interview preparation

With an excellent CV, your chances of getting an interview should increase. During interview preparation, your outplacement coach will help you:

  • prepare answers
  • appear confident and capable
  • prepare mentally
  • think positively about interviews to minimise nerves.

6. Personal marketing

Networking is important when you're looking for a new job - knowing the right people could open up opportunities you'd otherwise completely miss. An outplacement coach will teach you the skills for successful networking, which include interpersonal skills and confidence to approach people, make suggestions and initiate negotiations.

7. Debrief and on-going support

Usually an outplacement coach will offer continued support even once you've found a job. This is to ensure you are settling well into your new role and dealing with the changes at play in your life. If necessary, your coach will continue to offer guidance for as long as six months after you start your new job.

What should I look for in an outplacement coach?

The coaching and support of an outplacement coach can help clients cope during an incredibly stressful time; however, finding the right outplacement coach is essential if you want to get the best outcome from your sessions.

Here are some tips for finding a good outplacement coach:   

  • Look for someone with experience as an outplacement or career coach.
  • Make sure they have up-to-date knowledge of job-searching and recruitment.
  • Look for a high level of coaching qualification, or membership with an appropriate professional body.

Life Coach Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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