Have you ever been unhappy at work, but couldn’t figure out why? Have you ever needed to make a big decision, but felt paralyzed, unable to decide, leading to inaction and ongoing unhappiness? You know this is the worst of all words, and yet don’t know how to make the right choice. Or perhaps you have a relationship in your life that is causing you grief – whether with a colleague, manager, direct report, neighbor or anyone else – but have no idea how to fix it. Yet leaving the relationship (e.g., finding a new job) seems like an insurmountable challenge: What if I don’t find another job? What if the new job is just as bad? So, you remain where you are, stuck and depressed.
Sometimes figuring out the problem is the main problem.
Mona’s Challenge: Mona was a senior manager at a large accounting firm. She began as an entry level staff member with no experience but lots of energy. Her hard work and enthusiasm paid off, and Mona was promoted several times over the past seven years, leading to a managerial role overseeing several junior staff members and reporting to a partner. However, in the past year or two she had become increasingly unhappy. The positive experiences were fewer and fewer, and work had become a grind. The quality of Mona’s work was very high, and her year-end reviews were stellar; but the thought of continuing to move up the ladder in her current job was depressing, rather than exciting. She was willing to change roles, change firms, even change industries, if that’s what it would take to make things better. But without a sense of what was causing her unhappiness, she didn’t even know where to begin. Mona felt completely stuck.
Mona doesn’t need to suffer endlessly, and neither do you. If you have a problem that you don’t know how to address, or perhaps don’t even know how to define, we are here to help with a service called “Lightning Intervention.” Some examples of situations that we helped people with:
- You are unsatisfied with your job, but are not sure what has changed
- You need to make an important decision about your life but are not making it, paralyzed with uncertainty and indecision
- You have a relationship that is broken and don’t know how to fix it
Outcome of Mona’s Lightning Intervention: As described above, Mona was unhappy at work but couldn’t understand why. What became clear was that the challenge of learning new technical skills was a primary source of pleasure in her work. In her early years there was so much to absorb, and work was fun. As Mona’s mastery grew, work become less demanding; she found she was not learning many truly new things and was consequently bored by the grind of her job. Paradoxically, her years of experience mastering the job made her tremendously valuable to her employer, but also left her bored and unhappy. Mona realized that unless she found a way to integrate new challenges into her job, she would not be find satisfaction at work. This insight led Mona to seek out new fields to master (despite her employer’s hope that she would simply continue doing what she was already good at), which included more time selling, interacting with clients, and finding new technologies to integrate into the practice.
Rajiv’s challenge: Rajiv was a manager at a consulting firm. His technical skills were superb, and his superiors never hesitated to assign him the toughest projects, knowing that he would see them through to a solution. However, as a manager of people Rajiv was far less successful. His year-end review was always the same – brilliant technician, but too harsh with his direct reports. Rajiv was open to change, and tried to be less harsh, but his feedback didn’t improve. His professional progress depended on improving in this area, but Rajiv was simply unable to make the change his managers were demanding of him. Rajiv was stuck, frustrated and unable to get ahead at work.
Outcome of Rajiv’s Lightning Intervention: Through the intervention, Rajiv came to realize that he was subconsciously but profoundly ambivalent about putting the feedback he received into practice, because he felt that to be less “harsh” was ultimately to fail to hold people accountable for their work. And so, a pattern emerged: he would try to be nicer to his direct reports, but when deadlines loomed and work needed to get done, he would revert to his natural tendency and deliver his feedback bluntly and directly. This indeed got the job done, but left people feeling bad. As long as choice between being nice or being effective existed in Rajiv’s mind, he could not progress. Through the diagnostic intervention, Rajiv finally understood that this was a false choice: he could be less harsh AND hold people accountable. This simple insight allowed Rajiv to open his mind to learning – and authentically commit to – new communication techniques without compromising his work, dramatically improving his performance as a people manager and allowing him to continue to get promoted.
How is a Lightning Intervention different from Coaching?
Coaching is a broad term that encompasses many different types of engagements. A lightning intervention is a short, focused, and frequently intense session that promises to give you a clear understanding of what the problem is, and what paths are available for addressing it. Following a lightning intervention, many clients gain a profound insight into the underlying problem, and the solution becomes self-evident. Other times, the problem becomes clear – a transformative experience in and of itself – but deciding on the path forward takes time and effort. But what is common to all lightning interventions is a newfound understanding of the situation, which for many clients is an experience of relief and optimism. Having engaged in these types of interventions with clients over the years, I can honestly say it has the potential to be the absolute biggest payoff for a very small investment of time and money, with the power to change your life in a single conversation.