Coaching Case Study

Tracey* HR Manager/Wife/Mother

Coaching Case Study – Client Interview and Write up by Ruth van den Brink

The Challenge: Defining Success When Your Values, Priorities and Circumstances Have Changed.

Work Harder and Longer?

Tracey was career-driven, working 80 hour weeks and facing every challenge with  ‘work harder, work longer and be flexible’. After 2 years of maternity leave, she was excited about returning part-time to the job she felt confident and successful in.

She was also struggling.

Two years off work really took me by surprise in terms of where my priorities were and what my values were. Having a two-year-old in day-care and trying to reintegrate into the workforce seemed like a pretty substantial challenge.

The Need For Support Through Transition

Two months later a worldwide Pandemic hit resulting in an indefinite standdown from work. Then her son was diagnosed with Autism. 

There were some big events happening in the world and with us privately. And it changed the landscape of what my plan was for career…  it shifted my goals and priorities to the point where I didn’t know how to respond.  

Tracey wasn’t the same person she used to be. She was still passionate about being successful, but her definition of success had changed. She needed specialised help through this complex transition. 

I needed a coach who knows what it is to be a mom, what it is to actually run a business or chase your dreams and not settle for mediocre.

The Solution: Identify Your Values, Translate Them Into Actions, Establish Them as Habits

A Circumplex of Values Comes First

Tacey’s initial goal with coaching was to figure out what to DO – both in her career and in her personal life. Life transition Coach, Rachel McInnes showed her that figuring out what was really important to her came first. Clear values and priorities would drive her actions, making the ‘DOing’ clearer.  

Tracey took the time to discover her ‘Circumplex of Values’ – a science-based model Rachel had developed. This revealed what Tracey valued most and where those values sat in her priorities. The thoroughness of this tool and Rachel’s wisdom in translating the results into practical applications produced a tailored picture of her unique values and priorities.

This picture was the framework Rachel and Tracey could continually refer back to in the process of: 

– translating those values and priorities into action,

– beginning to establish those actions as habits, and

– learning to identify when her actions and decisions were out of alignment with her values. 

We went back and forth looking at some key values and priorities over the next few sessions and translated that into a plan around how I was actually going to tackle the career and my responsibilities as a mother. The key thing I took out of this process was asking, ‘How do I hold myself accountable for the things that I’ve committed to?’

Returning to work challenged just that.

Equipped To Push Back.

I could feel myself going into old habits of, ‘I’ve got to work these extra hours, I’ve got to get this job done.’…Without the work with Rachel, I wouldn’t have been as clear around my boundaries. There it was on paper. My family were my life and my values. When the opportunities for more work and more time came up, I knew straight away that I was infringing on that boundary. And it was very easy for me to say, ‘Either this… or I’m going to be really unhappy.’ It gave me the empowerment to be really clear on what my priorities are.

The Results: Clear Values and The Confidence to Fight For the Life She Wanted. 

The Tools

Tracey came away with: 

– clarity on what she wanted life to look like. 

– a framework to evaluate decisions and actions. 

– the confidence to stand firm when life pressured her to compromise. 

– a process to continually re-evaluate and re-align with her values.

I’ve actually successfully negotiated a permanent part-time position. I was offered this great full-time role, and I pushed back and said, ‘No, I really want part-time and I want it to be permanent. I need to have that comfort and security and surety in my role as a mom and my role as an HR manager.’ And I got it. It was just being able to know very clearly what my values were.

Equipped For Life

Tracey has already started having tough conversations with leaders at work over future career goals. Over time she will face new transitions. Her values and priorities will change. New pressures will come. A key part of her work with Rachel has been establishing how to stick with the progress that has been made. 

Rachel’s intelligent, authentic, practical wisdom and support has given her the tools to continue this process for a lifetime.

I’m grateful for the confidence it’s given me to know what’s important and follow that. And I’m the one who decides that. No one’s deciding that for you. That’s the best part of this.

Are you facing changes in life and asking, “What should I DO?” Have you realised that the answer to that lies in much deeper questions around your values and priorities?  Would you like Rachel McInnes’ support in moving through this process? 

* Name changed for privacy reasons.