Case Study: Jane Gets Her Life Back

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Jane was an HR manager in a large medical supply company. She

had held this role for several years, and generally enjoyed working

with her clients to resolve their various HR issues. Lately, though, it

seemed that her world was spinning out of control. A recent merger

had greatly increased the complexity and urgency of the work that

was being demanded of her. Jane’s boss was becoming concerned

that Jane seemed overwhelmed and generally unhappy. Her boss

suggested that Jane consider working with a coach to help her successfully

deal with the challenges of the merger environment.

Jane interviewed two coaches and chose to work with Amanda.

Initially, Amanda observed that Jane was:

_ Chronically overbooking herself, often double-scheduling

meetings

_ Frequently working late to “get things done” because there was

not enough time between all of her meetings to accomplish

anything

_ Having difficulty saying “no” to any request, and generally

perceived her role as one of “making everyone happy,” which

they rarely were

_ Often so stressed that she was having trouble concentrating

_ Occasionally short with people who happened to speak with

her when she was feeling overwhelmed

When Amanda asked Jane what she wanted to accomplish

through coaching, Jane wanted to find a way to serve the needs of

her clients without feeling constantly overwhelmed. After an extensive

onboarding process, Amanda and Jane outlined coaching goals

that included helping Jane better manage her stress levels, focus her

work on the top HR priorities of the client, and find more innovative

ways to meet her clients’ needs.

Initially, Jane found it difficult to find time to even speak with

Amanda, but she knew that her boss was expecting to hear about

her progress, so she managed to squeeze in some time for her coaching

conversations. The first area that Amanda focused on was

helping Jane to clear some time in her schedule for her coaching

work. Together, they found ways for Jane to carve out some time on

her calendar, and Amanda was able to help Jane see that focusing on

personal management would provide benefits for her and her

clients.

The first coaching conversations focused on helping Jane to get

clear on what was most important for her personally and professionally.

Through these conversations, Jane became aware of just

how much her job had changed with the merger. Jane had responded

to the new demands by piling them on top of the old ones, rather

than stepping back and reflecting on what was most important to

accomplish. Amanda coached Jane to clarify with her boss what his

expectations were in this new environment. They agreed that getting

her clients through the merger process was the top priority, and they

discussed in greater detail what that constituted. Although there was

still a tremendous amount of work to do, Jane felt relieved that her

boss understood her predicament and would back her up on reducing

the level of service that she was providing to some of her clients.

Personally, Jane wanted to be able to catch her breath from time

to time and to create some separation between work and her

family life.

In her coaching conversations, Jane reported that she often felt

overwhelmed by the demands of her clients and found herself trying

to do several things at once and getting little accomplished. One of

the first areas that Jane needed to address was remaining more balanced

and composed throughout the day. During a coaching session,

Amanda asked Jane to use reflective insight to identify the physical

sensations she felt that indicated her stress level was rising. Jane

noted, among other things, that she tended to feel more uptight and

she had a harder time focusing. Amanda assigned Jane the task of

noticing during the week the various things that contributed to

Jane’s stress level. At her next coaching session, Jane reported back

that her schedule was so tightly booked that she was constantly

rushing to meetings and rarely took time to eat. Instead, Jane fueled

her day with candy and sodas that left her feeling strung out.

Through conversation, Amanda and Jane were able to identify a

pattern of escalating stress. Amanda coached Jane on establishing

practices that allowed Jane more breathing space in her day, such as

leaving time between meetings and scheduling a lunch break. She

also taught Jane some simple techniques for centering her energy

when she noticed that she was becoming increasingly stressed. These

changes made a huge difference for Jane, and she began to feel as if

she was gaining some control over her life again. Jane found that she

was able to get more done in a shorter period and that she was

making better decisions because she wasn’t as frazzled as she had

been before coaching. With this success under her belt, Jane began

to look at how she prioritized her time.

Again, practicing reflective insight, Jane noticed that she tended

to accept any request that her clients made of her, even if the work

was not within her purview. Jane decided that, based on her priorities,

she would need to reduce or eliminate her commitments to

some activities. Jane was deeply concerned about how others would

respond to this change. She worked with Amanda to find diplomatic

and direct language to set clear boundaries with her clients. She was

pleasantly surprised that, for the most part, her clients understood

her need to focus her efforts during this hectic time. Her plate was

still very full, but Jane felt as if she could breathe again. Better yet,

she could finally see that she was making progress in helping her

clients move more smoothly through the merger process, and that

achievement gave her a sense of satisfaction that had been missing

for some time now.