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Coaching could be key to career bounceback


Coaching can play a "vital" role in helping older managers cope with finding themselves unexpectedly on the job market again after being laid off, research has found.
The two-year study undertaken jointly by academics at the Universities of Surrey and Bath among senior managers aged 49 to 62, who lost their jobs in acrimonious circumstances, found that they were all deeply traumatised by the experience.
But they also discovered that the former high fliers dealt with their circumstances in three main ways. Professor David Gray from the University of Surrey's School of Management, said: "Our research shows that a manager's psychological response to the trauma of unemployment, and particularly the ability to be flexible, is the key factor in whether they can turn their situation around or languish in the doldrums."
The group that found it most difficult to adapt were those who were unable to accept their loss in status and who mourned past glories. Such individuals were deeply wounded by the loss of their job and experienced profound feelings of despair, devastation and acute depression, perceiving it to be the end of the line for them and the end of their career.
Those who coped most successfully, on the other hand, were able to see the situation as a new chapter in their lives and took on part-time work, became self-employed and/or started studying and volunteering.
They were able to take a more philosophical approach to the loss of their job and accepted that life may or may not return to how it was. But the secret to such acceptance lay in redefining themselves outside of their former career status and the trauma of unemployment.
A final group, whose ability to cope came somewhere in the middle of the first two groups, viewed their situation as a temporary derailment to their career, but believed that they would be able to return to past glories.
Gray said: "If a manager can come to terms with the loss of their past career, which is often very difficult but possible, they can begin the process of reinventing themselves. Coaching may be a vital support in achieving this aim."
Professor Gabriel from the University of Bath's Management School, agreed. "Professionals are more likely to come to terms with unemployment if they can create a story, which allows them to discover their voice as a person who is unemployed but whose identity is not defined by their unemployment."

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