Dealing with the Inevitable in Career (and Life)!

You meet with your destiny on the road you took to avoid it!

I do not know if some famous person concocted this above quote, but if they did not, I now have. Why do I think that this is an important concept that professionals—and everyone else—must acknowledge as a fact of life? After having worked with over 6,000 clients globally and having myself dealt with my career’s ups and downs in the past, I have come to realize that those who understand the importance of accepting how a set of given circumstances can create an inevitable outcome, avoiding that inevitability becomes almost impossible by taking “another road.”

By making this statement I am not suggesting that one must quickly surrender to the inevitability of an outcome that a person is facing, but I am suggesting that early acknowledgement of the problem and analyzing the worst-case scenario can help you better decide if continued expenditure of efforts, emotional energy, and stress associated with the struggle are worth the trouble. I am also not suggesting that waiving a white flag of surrender at the first sign of trouble is the way to go. On the other hand, I am suggesting that going through the process of remedying a situation is a good learning experience; this is, indeed, one of the life’s learnings or rewards! Such encounters is what makes you wiser as you go through life. However, if one prepares to deal with the unavoidable even after giving their best efforts to deal with it then the learning from that experience is a good investment of time and energy.

As a career and life coach I have encountered many examples of situations that resulted in clients’ learning that dealing with an out-of-control, deteriorating situation that has reached a “tipping point” requires knowing when to accept the inevitable and make room for Plan B.

Let me give you two examples that I encounter often in my career coaching:

Case-I: Dealing with the PIP

At any given time I have about one percent of my client pool headed for or dealing with a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). A PIP is a last resort a company adopts to remove an errant employee because of their “job performance.” The early signals for being put on a PIP are inescapable for most professionals. They first start with verbal “feedback” from your boss. Soon the frequency of these feedback sessions increases. Then comes the Annual Performance Review (APR), where you are surprised to find yourself rated below your performance from the last year’s APR. On a scale of 1-5, where “5” is a top performer, you have slipped from a 3.5 to a 2.5. Normally, a rating of “2” requires performance improvement.

Those who are in denial of the course of events in such a case convince themselves that going from “2.5” to a “3” is not that big a deal and by putting in extra work they can engineer their recovery. What they do not realize is that after their “feedback” sessions that they are already putting in all the extra hours they can in their work.

As they march out of their boss’s office determined to turn this around for themselves, they do not realize that they are already headed for the PIP as the next step in the process.

Soon they are meting with their boss and their HR representative discussing their PIP. All the while, they are working harder than ever, often making even more mistakes in their deliverables, working under stressful conditions, trying to salvage their job. In my coaching I must have dealt with dozens of PIPs, and, in all cases, it resulted in clients’ terminations shortly after each PIP was formalized. Only in one case we were able to avoid the impending PIP, after which her boss was transferred to another department, and she was able to do well with her new boss.

Case-II: A Bad Hire

Despite all the job interviews and candidate screening, bad hires slip through. Some people have the ability to BS well during interviews. If the reference checks are not done diligently by asking the right questions to the right references a bad hire becomes inevitable.

Many of my boss clients have made bad hires over the years. The problem comes when they do not act after seeing early signs of marginal or poor performance. Often, they rationalize their hire’s poor performance by reminding themselves of the new environment their hire is dealing with, etc. In most cases they end up spending more time looking after and correcting the work of their hires under the guise of “employee orientation.” In my view a bad hire manifests quickly. When they do you, as their manager, must quickly come out of denial and admit to yourself that you made a mistake hiring the bum. This is where most clients, who have made this hiring mistake struggle. Their pride of hiring star employees gets in the way of acknowledging the reality that they now face. A bad hire can quickly bring down the performance and morale of an otherwise “A” team.

New hires are much easier to terminate than those who linger on interminably. So, if you discover that you have made a hiring error you must use the probationary period for their exit without delay or hesitation. If you keep helping them by doing their work at the expense of yours, then you must realize that you are now working for your new hire and not the other way around. The sooner you deal with the reality and hire a replacement the sooner you will get back to normal in how you do your own work.

The above are just two examples of taking a road to avoid the inescapable. So, learning how to recognize early in the process where it is headed and acting decisively can help you recover from the setback with much greater resilience than otherwise.

Good luck!

Begin the journey to your new career today.