"This time we've got an exceptionally difficult case," said Mr Weber on the phone. "This morning we dismissed Mr Rosin. Towards the end he had lost all acceptance by his colleagues or management. Now we're really worried about him and his family. He built a new home two years ago. His wife doesn't work outside the home so she can take care of the children. And recently the two have been quite pessimistic about the future if he lost his job. I'd like you to get in contact with Mr Rosin immediately after this call." I've known Mr Rosin (43 years old) for a couple of years. He's the head of finance and accounting at Nova Mechanical Engineering GmbH in Bremen. My call confirms that his is really in bad spirits. We arrange to meet the next morning together with his wife at their place on the outskirts of Bremen. With a coffee in hand I listen to the couple's concerns and hardships. They both fear they'll end up having to sell the house. Later, after he's finished letting off steam, I steer the conversation towards his previous experience at Nova and two other employers. As he starts talking I take interest and ask questions, non-verbally signaling my support (active listening). Within minutes the picture of misery before me disappears: I'm listening to a bright, enthusiastic manager who's sitting upright and presenting his former successes in an expressive voice and lively body language. He forgets about his present woes for a good half hour. Of course, they come back - but also the facts about his previous successes stay with him. As a matter of fact, Mr Rosin was headhunted 3 years ago for Nova and "did a good job" at the beginning. But when 1995 finished deep in the red, the climate became icy and a hidden agenda of finger-pointing and whitewashing started. Mr Rosin is a professional, but he wasn't use to this. His figures, charts and analyses were regularly ripped to pieces by other departments, who contradicted them with their own figures. In the end, his own behavior became intolerable as well.
Two days later in my Hamburg office we work together on Mr Rosin's career successes, his professional and personal strengths, and his specialized experience. Within 14 days we have his "sales portfolio".
He's surprised by how positive its contents are. "Yes, but now I've lost my job, and let's be honest: I was part of the problem. For months now every time I have shown my face it has ended in disaster. Under these circumstances, who would want to employ me as a commercial manager? They're sure to ask Nova about me." "Of course we'll have to take that into account. We've described all your strengths and proven successes as a manager in your sales portfolio. In the coming weeks we're going to have a good hard look at your weaknesses in dealing with power and office politics. And in this process we'll also come to terms with your traumatic experiences at Nova. Also, we need to find a job where assertiveness is not the number one priority. You'll find a way of standing your ground in management teams. Apart from that, you'll need a genuine answer to questions about your weaknesses that are going to often come up in job interviews. You can impress people when you show the capacity for both self-criticism and self-confidence as you develop your abilities in dealing with power struggles." Mrs Rosin notices in disbelief that her husband is almost euphoric and regularly tries to bring him down to earth. As a result, we invite her to take part in one of our sessions in Hamburg. She can't help but notice our positive working atmosphere. And encouraged by the wonderful view of the Alster from the 22nd floor of the Mundsburg Tower, we manage to make Mrs Rosin an important member of the team working on her husband's professional reorientation. As we help Mr Rosin with his application process, we also coach him in developing his assertiveness skills. There is just one problem left: how to get Mr Rosin into job interviews with a positive attitude. Of course, his existential fears and the memories of his recent past catch up with him from time to time. Here, a little trick from my training helps: the anchor technique. It works very well on Mr Rosin. After just three months, Mr Rosin has two offers from companies within easy driving distance. His salary is the same as before. He's still happily working at the new company.
This is a real case. Names and locations have been changed to protect privacy.