Redundancy: crisis or opportunity?

Redundancy: crisis or opportunity?

Redundancy: crisis or opportunity?

Bill is 39. He worked for the same company for the past 8 years, as a Management Accountant. He did his work ok, but his real passion was restoring old cars. When he was told that his department was being restructured, and that he would have to compete with his colleagues for fewer positions with talk of redundancy in the air, he felt a mix of anger, guilt and anxiety.

Redundancy Notice

How would you react if you were told your job was redundant? Would you panic or feel relieved? Would you take out that dormant self employment plan? Or maybe escape for a two week holiday? Or just take time to work out your future?

In my experience as a career counsellor, many people have a knee-jerk reaction to redundancy. They either rush headlong into frantic job search activities or too quickly into trying to embrace a long-held dream of running a small business.

It takes time to transition.

Redundancy = Transition

William Bridges, in his excellent book ‘Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes’ (2004), distinguished ‘change’ from ‘transition’. Change is the concrete event – you lose your job, you get married, you change country. Transition is the psychological process needed to adjust from one status quo to a new one.

career transition

Bridges described three stages we go through:

  • ‘letting go’
  • the ‘neutral zone’ and
  • ‘new beginnings’.

At the letting go stage, we may feel a combination of shock, sadness and relief. The neutral zone is a mixed bag of anxiety, anger, guilt but can also yield creativity during this fertile arena of uncertainty. It helps to acknowledge, and not deny, the stage you are at.

redundancy advice

To do that, try writing down those things you will and will not lose from the change you are going through. Perhaps you will lose a bunch of colleagues you liked, but you won’t lose your skills or experience. Maybe the new status quo will enable you to reap some gains? Try writing down these gains as well: for example, new contacts, learning, skills, a lifestyle aligned more with your values and needs, and so on.

At CCS, we help many people to get through this neutral zone, by taking time to clarify who they are and what they want.


Do book one of our free Introductory consultations to find out more about career coaching and how it can help you cope with redundancy.

Book Free Consultation »


Could I earn a living as a career coach? 5 top tips

Could I earn a living as a career coach? 5 top tips

Could I earn a living as a career coach? 5 top tips

Can you earn a living as a career coach? This is a question we are constantly asked. You may be working within an organisation right now, and considering your options for the future. You have done some career coaching and enjoyed it. You may know one or two people who have set up as coaches – perhaps calling themselves executive coaches, performance coaches or even career coaches. It seems an attractive option: work for yourself in something you enjoy…

….But you are scared. What about the financial security you are used to? Could you make it work? What is the demand? What would it be like working on your own? How do you start to make the transition?

Top Tip No 1: develop your vision

Think medium or even longer term about what your coaching practice could look like. And I mean ‘look like’. When I first started CCS, I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to do, what gap in the market needed filling, and the values underpinning what I wanted to achieve.

Try this exercise we use with our clients: using a large sheet of paper (A1 preferably) and some felt tips or marker pens, put down images or pictures of what you would ideally be doing in your future business. Don’t think about practicalities at this stage.

Cover the kind of clients (eg individuals or corporate), the business or client needs you will be meeting, where you will be working, what will be positive outcomes, and the nature of what you will be offering. If you hate drawing, either just draw anyway, but do it quickly! Or, cut out photos and make a collage. Now ,sit down and talk your vision through with a trusted friend or colleague. Or, if you have one, your career coach. Talking it through is key: it can make some far fetched ideas seem more reachable and enable you to get some clarity on your ideas.

The next step is what we call ‘scaling’. Giving your future ideal vision a scale score of 10, ask yourself ‘where am I now on that scale?’ A 3 means that you are 30% of the way there.

Whatever score you give yourself, just ask yourself this question: ‘what is already happening that tells me I am at ‘x’ on the scale?’ For example, it may be that you are already doing some career coaching.

The next question is: “what do I need to do to move just 1 point up the scale?” Give yourself a timeline, and make sure you talk through your plans and how you intend to make them work.

Top Tip No 2: find the bits of career coaching you love most

If you are to work for yourself, you will want to enjoy what you do. Remember the saying: ‘if you find a job you love, you will never work another day in your life’. What I love is the insight that clients get through the use of my career coaching skills, and the collaborative effort to move forward positively. What would you love about running your own career coaching business?

It is definitely worthwhile spending time identifying what you really enjoy doing. Make a list of those times in the last five years or so when you have really enjoyed yourself. Take a piece of paper and divide it into two columns. On the left side write down up to six ‘enjoyable moments’, in or out of work. In the right column, write down what you enjoyed about each one, and what you gained or learned from the experience. Or just make a list of everything you have ever enjoyed doing. Do this quickly, maybe take ten minutes.

Now, with either or both exercises, go through them with a highlighter pen, picking out any themes you notice. Better still, get someone else to look at it with you.

Then, ask yourself these questions:

  • which parts of career coaching do I enjoy the most?
  • does my current work-life (yes, both) meet my enjoyment needs?
  • if not, how could I fill the missing gaps?
  • would working as a self-employed coach/career coach provide the missing enjoyment?

Top Tip No 3: identify your value proposition

What are your USPs – your unique selling points? When you work for yourself as a career coach, trust is crucial. You will get most of your work through your contacts, and so you will want to expand your contacts via satisfied clients, and others who know about you and your value proposition. How will your clients experience a service of value?

This starts with identifying your beliefs and values that could underpin your career coaching work. For example, at CCS I believe our role is to empower clients, trainees and organisations to be more self managing in their working lives. I also believe in the importance of establishing mutually beneficial and trusting relationships with our clients, over the long term. One way I do this is by sharing CCS materials with trainees – I am more concerned that CCS trainees used the materials to aid their coaching, not the other way round. I also run an Alumni group for graduates of our training courses, which acts as a forum for shared learning.

What are your core beliefs that will inform your value proposition? Remember, there will be lots of times when you need to communicate this crisply, perhaps in a networking situation, so it is worth spending time to get it right.

Top Tip No 4: take your time to transition

Be clear in your mind about the difference between ‘change’ and ‘transition’. Change is the event – for example, one day you are employed, the next, self-employed. Transition is the emotional process you go through to adjust to that change.

It’s takes time to adjust to change. So, give yourself that time. One way is to allow your ideas to evolve through gaining some further experience of the field. This could help to build your confidence. Could you consider reducing your working hours, and developing your business idea and experience during that freed up time? This minimises the risk, and allows you to steer a gradual process of separation.

There are a number of ways of using this time: make sure you get properly trained as a career coach to plug any skills or knowledge gaps you have identified. You could write a draft business plan, and get critical feedback (ie not just from your friends and family). If you feel ready, you could begin to see some clients on a pro bono basis.

Top Tip No 5: find role models

Spend time with people who could be role models for you. Learn from others who have made the shift. When I first started CCS, I made sure I got to know all the key people in the field. I joined our professional association. I began to see from the inside what was happening in the marketplace. I could not have made the move successfully otherwise. People were encouraging by their example. I learned so much from them, and then adapted what I learned into my own style, vision and preference. This also stops you from feeling isolated at the beginning of a new career path.

What to do next

You are welcome to call or email me to discuss your current thoughts. I would be happy to explore your ideas with you.

Click here if you would like to know more about our Accredited Career Coach Training.

More: Accredited Career Coach Training


Will 2017 be the year of career change for you?

Will 2017 be the year of career change for you?

Will 2017 be the year of career change for you?

At this time of year, I take out my grubby notebook that sits by my bed, and write down my ‘positives’ from the last twelve months. It stretches my memory, but it’s worth it because:

  • it forces me to focus on the positive at a time when we are blasted with negativity from the media
  • it reminds me what I have achieved, learned, been proud of and struggled through
  • and it points to what has been important for me this year – what I have valued.

Then I start writing what I’d like to focus on doing in the coming year…

2017 – The Year of Your Career Change?

…If you are thinking of a career change, and the Christmas break is a time when many of us reflect on what we are doing with our working lives, try our Values exercise below, to work out what really matters to you in your working life. I believe that our values can change as we gain experiences; negative events as well as positive ones can sharpen what really matters to us.

career change

Career Change: Case Study

Take Jamie: he spent ten years establishing himself in his chosen career – Accountancy. He did quite well, but felt battle weary by the time he reached his early thirties. He started questioning why he was working late most weekdays and taking work home as well. He had started to sleep badly, was getting irritable at home, and his social life began to suffer. It had been tolerable in the first few years, or rather he had gone along with what was asked of him.

When he sat down and did the Values Exercise, he discovered that he placed low importance on ‘power and authority’ and much higher on ‘autonomy’, ‘learning’ and ‘variety’. We discussed whether he needed to change the way he worked or change the organisation he worked for. He decided initially to talk with his manager about new projects he could get involved with.

Contact CCS Today

Making the decision to change your career should never be done rashly. It is wise to sit down with someone who can help you to review and reflect dispassionately.

Do contact CCS today to book your FREE initial consultation. Here’s the Values Exercise to get you started on your career review:

Click here to try our Values Exercise »

Book Free Consultation »


Happy New Year!

Strength spotting: a simple tool to improve your career development

Strength spotting: a simple tool to improve your career development

Strength spotting: a simple tool to improve your career development

Strength spotting is not as hard as you might think.

People who use their strengths at work:

  • have more energy
  • have higher levels of self efficacy (the belief that we are able to achieve the things we want
  • experience less stress
  • are more likely to achieve their goals
  • are more engaged at work.

But because we seem hard wired to notice our weaknesses, we need to work harder to notice our strengths – or get better at strength spotting – and so use them more often. It is said that we need to balance each negative comment with five positive ones to have a healthy marriage, and six positives to have a smooth functioning business team!

There is ample research to back up this assertion: Gallup (2010) showed that we are six times more engaged at work when we use our strengths. Linley et al (2010) showed that people who use their strengths in striving to achieve goals were far more likely to achieve those goals and be more fulfilled .

A strength is a quality in your DNA ( like the fish in the Einstein quote!). Think of a leopard and its spots. In order to spot a strength in yourself , look for:

– the activities which attract you (even when tired)
– the topics and skills you learn quickly
– the areas you perform well at
– moments when you feel ‘authentic’ – i.e. really you
– those activities you prioritise
– times when you are ‘at your best’ or ‘in the zone’
– positive energy in your voice tone and body language.

career development

Strength spotting tool

Below is CCS’s strength spotting tool:

1) Make a note of 1-2 times in the past when you have been ‘at your best’ or ‘in the zone’. Try to talk these through with someone you feel comfortable with, for example, a friend, partner, colleague or coach. (This is particularly important if you are currently feeling a bit down or disillusioned). Identify what it was that enabled you do be ‘at your best’ and also list the strengths you used.

2) Over the next week or so, make a conscious effort to notice the things you do where you believe you are using your strengths.  Note down the activity and the strengths you used in the Table below.

For example:

  • Cycling. Strengths: physical stamina, fitness, determination, goal focused
  • Learned a software package quickly. Strengths: IT skills, openness to the application of new ideas
  • Prepared a presentation. Strengths: creative use of graphics package, visual acuity
  • Working on keeping good relationships at work. Strengths: listening, connecting with others

My strengths spotting record

Activities Strengths used
Activities which attract me
Topics I learn easily
Areas I perform well at
Moments I feel authentic
Activities I prioritise
Times when I’m ‘at my best’
When I show positive energy

3) Now you have your list of strengths, you can think about how you will deploy them to improve your career development. Use the following questions to prompt your ideas:

In which projects at work could you use your strengths more?

  • In what ways could you more frequently demonstrate your strengths (if you feel they are currently underutilised)?
  • Could you develop your strengths outside of work?
  • How could your strengths help to develop your career over the next year or two?
  • Do your main strengths point to a new role or career direction?

How can CCS Help You and Your Career?

At Career Counselling Services, our career coaching programmes enable people to identify their strengths and think about ways to better use them now, and whether an alternative role or career direction might be a better outlet for them.

So why not contact CCS today for your initial FREE consultation?

Contact CCS Today


About Rob Nathan »

How to manage your career effectively

Are you fed up with your job? Disillusioned with working for an organisation you don’t believe in any more? Struggling to make your relationship work with your manager? Worn down by constant restructuring? So, you need to find out how to manage your career effectively.

Career Case Study: Dave

Dave came to see me for career coaching. 42 years old, he had kept his head down, working hard as an Area Sales Manager for many years. He said that he deserved the promotion he wasn’t getting, after four years in the role. He was sure the grass was greener, and wanted to ‘escape’ to a new career.

He said that a combination of constant organisational restructuring, increased pressure to perform with fewer resources, and an unsupportive manager had worn him down. He wanted a better work-life balance.

But let’s look at it another way: Dave may ‘blame’ his manager for not supporting his progression. But what had Dave done to nurture and build that relationship? How did his manager view Dave?

Dave felt torn between his desire to spend more time with his family and his wish to gain promotion. But how ‘smartly’ was Dave working? Is he typical of the many people in mid-career who run themselves ragged at the behest of their employer?

How clear was Dave about his career development strategy? How open has he been to learning and development and to the changes that re-structuring has led to?

In other words, how well has Dave been managing his career?

how to manage your career effectively

Become Your Own Career Manager & Manage Your Career Effectively

I believe that we can all become better Career Managers. An effective career manager takes a ‘balanced’ approach, paying sufficient attention to the needs of both self and employer.

There are at least six areas we can become more effective at:

1. Building relationships
2. Learning and development
3. Career development strategy
4. Use of personal energy
5. Openness to change
6. Work life balance.

How well are you managing your career in each of these areas?

career manager

At CCS, we have developed a self scoring questionnaire called Balance™. We use it as part of our career coaching programmes, and have helped people to:

• improve a relationship
• improve awareness of networks and how best to use them
• request feedback constructively
• address blocks to learning
• developing their personal brand
• improve their management of stress
• develop skills to better manage change
• ensure they achieve the work-life balance they want.

For more details email us on to see how we can help you manage your career effectively.

Three tips to keep motivated at work and increase your job satisfaction

national training award for gilly freedman

Just how do you keep motivated at work? Read our top three tips to keep motivated at work and increase your job satisfaction and re-energise your career:

What makes you most motivated at work?

Typically management theorists have focused on:

  • Earning a big salary
  • Having meaningful work
  • Feeling competent
  • Having control over your work
  • Having like minded colleagues to socialise with

Which would you choose? Maybe all of them!

Surprisingly, financial incentives do not increase our job satisfaction, productivity or creativity unless the task is routine and mechanical. Professor Glucksberg at Princetown university did an experiment to see which of two groups could more speedily solve the famous Dunker conundrum of how to fix a candle to the wall when given a candle and a box of tacks.

3 tips to keep motivated at workThe first group was told that they were establishing norms and averages for how long it would take.

The second group were told they would be financially rewarded, the top 25% getting 4 dollars and the fastest person getting 20 dollars.

The group who were going to get dollars took three and a half minutes longer! Glucksberg claims that extrinsic motivators can actually restrict our creativity and productivity, making us narrow minded and blinkered.

But do we find it too difficult to focus on purposeful work unless we are earning what we consider a good enough salary? That is, does salary derail us from any higher aspirations?

Maslow in his Hierarchy of Needs theory concluded that unless we have our basic physiological and security needs met we can’t aim for purpose and meaning in our lives and work.

This might be true for many of us but how many struggling artists, musicians and actors have I seen who are so devoted to their muse that they continue to find ways to achieve their vision of success, even when their basic needs are hardly being met! They are definitely motivated at work.

Hertzberg distinguished motivators from dis-satisfiers and claimed that extrinsic factors such as a big office, a nice environment and a glamorous car can remove dissatisfaction but we need intrinsic factors such as purposeful work, achievement, responsibility and growth to truly motivate us.

My experience of career coaching people wanting to make a career change is that they often focus on extrinsic motivators such as salary, location and hours worked. Obviously these do matter but scientific theories and common sense tell us that they can’t provide job motivation on their own and job satisfaction and productivity have been closely matched with being motivated at work.

How satisfied are you at work?

First motivation secret: Identify intrinsic motivators

  • Try to get a focus on what would give you meaning in your work; what would match your values and interests and what strengths and skills you would love to be using. Make a list of what is important to you and weigh these up against possible roles and what you are currently doing to gauge what might meet your motivators.
  • You might find that your current work does meet many of your motivators but that you need to change where or how you work.
  • You might find that the extrinsic factors matter less and that you can compromise, as long as your key intrinsics are being met.

Daniel Pink, psychologist and author claims the three universal motivators are:

  • Autonomy – the desire to control our own lives;
  • Mastery – the desire to increase our competence and
  • Purpose – the desire to do something larger than ourselves.

This may be true but the biggest complaint I hear from my career coaching clients is lack of feedback and appreciation. However purposeful your work, you generally want to know that you are valued and recognised for what you do and not being noticed can be very de-motivating.

If your work is excellent but you remain buried in your office how will anyone know you are doing a good job?

Second motivation secret: Get noticed

  • Try to showcase your skills and strengths by offering to join a cross functional project
  • Offer to speak at an upcoming seminar or conference
  • Recommend colleagues and show generosity in attributing work to them as this also helps you to be noticed.
  • Ask for feedback from colleagues and your manager

In a recent career coaching meeting my client explained that although their work was meaningful and although they felt competent to achieve it they were just burnt out : the language they used was, “I feel I am putting far more in than I am getting out!”.

Adams developed a theory of Equity which explains how we measure our inputs against the outcomes and calculate the ratio. If we feel we are putting in more hours, making more effort and sacrificing more of our own time than we are getting out ie. recognition, social reward, pay and perks, we feel cheated. We also compare ourselves with others and feel dissatisfied if their ratio seems fairer than ours.

Adams says we can either make less effort, or try to increase the outcomes, or think differently about what we are doing and finally if nothing works we can leave!

adams theory of equity - job satisfaction

How fairly do you feel you are being treated?

Third motivation secret: Take control of inputs and outcomes

  • Try to increase your outcomes by putting a business case to your manager.
  • Aim to reduce any unnecessary inputs e.g. working longer not smarter.
  • Take a broader perspective and re-evaluate your outputs and those of others
  • If none of these work you might need to consider a job change!

Career Counselling Services specialises in helping you evaluate your current work situation and enables you to find work which is motivating, fulfilling and satisfying.

See our website or email us at to see how we can help you.