13 September 2021

Too Close to the Coalface to See the Bigger Picture

Paul Halsall

Red Tiger Consulting


I write this blog off the back of a recent team call we had at Red Tiger Coaching. We were discussing potential transition coaching clients and I reflected back to the days when I was a Business Director at BT, went to a new role and immediately felt overwhelmed. This blog will cover what I went through in my new role and in hindsight now, what could have helped me cope much better. It’s taken me a few months to start to understand the benefits of coaching and I do keep referring to that “leap of faith” for someone to actually spend money on it and give it a go (I wish I had at BT)!

At BT I joined as a GIS analyst and then progressed to analysis team manager within about 3 years.  I stayed as an analytics team manager for about 5 years and then started to think more about my next step up (Without thinking about what I was good at/what I enjoyed).  I then got approached by an internal client who was responsible for controlling the P&L of the Thomson Reuters contract to join his team in a client-facing and still analytical role (As Analytics team manager I had done various analysis for this person).  I flourished in the role as now a “Business Manager” with responsibility to help the account hit profit and revenue targets with the help of my ability to analyse large datasets and provide technical expertise to the account.  This enabled me to understand commercial aspects of a business and also to still use my analytical skills.

The next step up the ladder was as a Business Director and when a role came up with another client-facing team (Unilever) who’s main office was just over the water from me in Port Sunlight (The Wirral).  The fit (I thought) was perfect, good chance to get more client exposure, chance to see how another account operates, great name to have on my CV.  Basically within 6 months I was not happy at all, and within a year I had decided to leave BT altogether (And started Red Tiger Talent)!

I loved my time at BT, great friends, great name on my CV, earned good money and had until near the end a good work-life balance.  If there was one thing I would change it would have been how I approached the role on the Unilever account.  I was thrown in with very little handover, and also joined at the same time my new line manager joined the team.  I also had to deal with my lovely Mum being diagnosed with dementia which also hit my stress levels tremendously.  I did throw myself into work with the various phrases I remember like “I am too busy to do anything else”, “I need to work more hours to just tread water”, “I am too busy for that call about resourcing”, “I am too stressed to resolve that issue and hope it just goes away”.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a great line manager on the account (She was excellent when I held my hand up and said I am struggling in the role), I had a good mentor who gave lots of good advice, but one thing I didn’t have was a career coach to help me along my path (Or better still perhaps before I took the path).  I have learnt from it in that I should have:

  1. Taken more time out and done things to relax and take my mind off work and other stresses
  2. Pushed harder for more resource and spent more time doing business cases to request it (When I thought I was too busy)
  3. I should have pushed to get a career coach – a good one would have helped me navigate through all of this.

As a coach now, and looking back I should have done quite a few things differently:

  1. Looked to do a psychometric test like Strengthscope to understand my strengths and how they align to those required by the role (Before I applied).
  2. Not got so caught up in climbing the ladder – I am ambitious, but time is on my side – I put pressure on myself to move up the ladder probably quicker than I should have.
  3. Asked at interview what the handover support process would be for me when I join (I always say it takes a good 6 months to really bed into a role).
  4. I shouldn’t have been so afraid of leaving BT (You do have golden handcuffs but sometimes you have to see beyond those and towards happiness).

I may be biased as a co-founder of a coaching business, but I wish I had used a career coach from outside my business.  Firstly, the idea never presented itself to me and I never really thought about investing my own money in one.  I wish I had at least dipped my toe in the water and maybe found a coach that would do an initial few sessions with me so I could see the benefit (I am now convinced that the investment would have easily paid back within a few years).

I also would have been uncertain to ask BT to pay for a coach for me. In hindsight, I would actually ask – I think there is a slight stigma attached that people don’t want to be seen as having a weakness and therefore a coach. Tat concept really isn’t founded on anything apart from ones own perceptions (And if that is the case – are they really a company I would want to work for?).

Seeking out a coach actually shows strength and foresight. A coach who works outside your business can give an unbiased outlook and guide you to a better understanding of yourself and your team.

If you’d like to find out more, we offer free Clarity Coaching Sessions so you can meet us and see whether you think you’d like to try coaching. There are lots of coaches out there, but you need to find one you can trust, feel relaxed with and work well with.

You can find out more about the benefits of our coaching offering in our Coaching Section. Please also email me on paul@redtigerconsulting.co.uk to book an initial, free, no obligation Clarity meeting today. What have you got to lose?

Photo by Razvan Chisu on Unsplash
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
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Published by Paul Halsall

Paul is an experienced head hunter, data and insight specialist, trainer and coach. His experience lies in Location Planning and Mapping but more recently within Business Management, working internationally on a variety of accounts.

1 Comment

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    Thanks for sharing your story Paul – a great piece of self reflection on your part.


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