Case Studies 1

"Coaching helped me to realise that the communication between me and my boss was actually pretty poor. I realised I could never stop him dumping things on me  ... but that I could change my response to this"


"I learned how to negotiate deadlines better and how to qualify people's requests"

Many of the people I work with have experienced difficulties in managing the balance between their working lives and home. As the pressure for ever-better results increases, more and more people are finding that it is their life outside of work that can suffer. It isn't only senior executives who face these kinds of pressures. Many of my clients are finding that their employers expect them to put in extra hours and in some organisations there can be a culture where leaving on time is regarded almost as a neglect of your responsibilities. These kinds of pressures are often increased by the implied threat of redundancy in a job market where "down-sizing" is commonplace. People may not like having to put in a lot of extra time but they may feel compelled to do so because they like the idea of the alternative even less. Even if you yourself avoid becoming a casualty in one of the rounds of "reorganisation", you may find yourself taking on extra jobs and extra responsibilities because there are fewer people left to do the work.

This kind of environment often results in a downward spiral where you feel trapped; you want to get out of the hamster wheel but you feel compelled to keep on running even when you know it isn't doing you much good. The end result can be stress, ill health, demotivation and even a sense of disempowerment or helplessness.

Martin is typical of many people who felt stuck in this kind of situation. He came to us because he was working harder and staying later and later at the office, yet the demands on him at work continued to grow. Meanwhile, his life at home was suffering. He was off to work before the children got up and they were frequently in bed by the time he got home. At weekends he was completely shattered and found himself needing to be "left alone" in order to recover some sense of composure. He seemed to lose the ability to communicate with his partner and she herself admitted later that the relationship had been at breaking point.

Working with clients like Martin requires a careful approach. He wanted his life to change and knew that it needed to change, yet he was acutely anxious about changing his response to the demands placed on him at work for fear of making a bad situation even worse. Taking it one step at a time and ensuring that Martin was comfortable with each of the steps, I first started to look at what could be changed and what couldn't. This started to give him a sense of being back in control because he let go of the things he couldn't change and focused more on himself and his response to the situation.

As he himself put it "I knew there were some things that really annoyed me but which I couldn't do anything about, yet I was getting really hung up about them. Coaching helped me to realise that the communication between me and my boss was actually pretty poor. I realised that I could never stop him dumping things on me out of the blue at the last minute but that I could change my response to this. I learned how to negotiate deadlines better and how to qualify people's requests so that I did what was really needed, not what I assumed was wanted. This frequently made a massive difference. In the past I'd often been so pissed off that I couldn't be bothered to speak to whoever it was and I just went away and dealt with what I thought was required."

He continues, "half the battle was coming to terms with my own expectations of myself. Alan (my coach) supported me to make subtle yet important changes in my approach. He helped me to focus my energy on the things that could make a difference and it has really changed my life. I know that sounds a bit OTT but it's not an exaggeration. I have more time and more energy for me and my family. Perhaps what is most surprising of all is that I now work less hours but my productivity has actually increased."

Lisa was another client who found herself working far too hard but was caught up in the situation where she felt she had no choice. As a partner in a small business operating in a highly competitive environment, often against a bigger and better resourced competition, she felt enormous pressure to respond to customer demands for fear of losing their business. Lisa is typical of many of my clients who work in their own businesses. Again, taking things a step at a time, I helped her to stand back from her business and gain a sense of perspective. She soon began to see the fundamental problem -- she wasn't valuing herself. She was continuing to take forward a view, formed at the very beginning when she first went into business, that her customers were perhaps taking a risk by choosing her over the competition, given that she was very much an "unknown quantity" at that time.

"My coach helped me to realise our true worth to our customers. I was operating on the assumption that our customers were doing me a favour by giving me their business when actually they were giving me their business because they were getting fantastic service at fantastic prices. I knew how valuable our customers were -- and of course I still do -- but what I started to realise was just how valuable we were as well."

"I realised, with some help of course, that I had all these scenarios in my mind -- a kind of mental picture -- about what would happen if I didn't meet every single request and every single demand that was placed upon me. That had become my reality, absolute concrete certainty, and I was responding as such. Perhaps it had indeed been the situation at one point, maybe right at the beginning, but it wasn't that way now. I'd been too busy to actually bother reviewing my picture of the way things are. One of the most liberating things was to discover that I could actually say 'I can't do it by tomorrow but I can do it for the day after' and customers would actually say 'okay, fine' and be just as happy. The other thing we did was to dare to put up our prices. We did lose a few customers but to be honest they were the ones who messed us about anyway. We are now more profitable and the whole business just feels so much more manageable."

Clients like Martin and Lisa (not their real names of course) illustrate just a couple of examples of the myriad of ways in which I can help and support you to make the kinds of changes that can bring your life back into balance. Often the situation is of course much more complex than this. Common to all situations is the principle of breaking the task down into a series of manageable steps and then supporting you to take each of the steps one at a time, in whatever timescale is appropriate to you. Change is never easy and sometimes it can be extremely difficult. It requires commitment, courage and honesty. Sometimes, there may be uncomfortable truths or you may have to acknowledge things about yourself or the situation that are hard to bear. Whatever the situation, I will always listen - really listen - so I can see things from your point of view. I won't judge you and I will offer you my total commitment to helping you achieve whatever objectives we agree.







She felt enormous pressure to respond to customer demands for fear of losing their business 

I won't judge you and I will offer you my total commitment to helping you achieve whatever objectives we agree





Guaranteed Success


More Case Studies

About Alan Priest Case examples based on one or more real clients but names and other details changed to protect confidentiality. Photographs are for illustrative purposes only and are not of actual clients.