Career transition plan for Displaced Worker - ELIZABETH R. YORK ...
Running head: COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 1
Coaching the Mature Worker through Career Transition
Elizabeth R. York
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 2
A depressed economy, coupled with changes in the business and industrial environments, is
leading organizations to displace experienced older (ages 40-70) workers. Older workers are
facing increasingly widespread job insecurity and waves of involuntary job loss resulting from
layoffs, downsizing, facility closings, and subsequent job displacement associated with
significant periods of unemployment, and declines in earnings and job quality (Brand, Levy, &
Gallo, 2008). Examining some of the factors encountered by a male industrial worker, age 49,
facing possible displacement due to organizational changes taking place within the organization
for which he has worked for ten years, a coaching plan is developed to 1) mitigate some of the
negative factors this worker is likely to encounter at displacement, 2) utilize this worker’s
strengths, and 3) facilitate a successful transition from obsolescence to a career viability. This
coaching plan includes establishing the coaching relationship, determining the client’s needs,
factoring possible stressors, challenges and obstacles, creating a plan to utilize the client’s
strengths while taking steps to enhance and strengthen the client’s weaknesses, support through
the transition process, and follow up support with a goal of independence.
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 3
A depressed economy, coupled with changes in the business and industrial environments,
is leading organizations to displace experienced older (ages 40-60) workers. Older workers are
facing increasingly widespread job insecurity and waves of involuntary job loss resulting from
layoff, downsizing, facility closings, and subsequent job displacement associated with significant
periods of unemployment, and declines in earnings and job quality (Brand, Levy, & Gallo,
2008). Several studies have investigated depressive symptoms in relation to late-career job loss,
resulting in findings that late-career job loss is a negative life event accompanied by substantial
emotional stress and subsequent reduction in affective health (Brand, 2004). Many workers in
the 40 to 70 year age range are finding that the job security they once felt has fallen victim to a
number of eliminating factors running the gamut from the effects of a depressed economy to
technological advances that have rendered the job obsolete. Today, more and more workers who
once looked forward to retirement are finding that this is no longer a viable possibility. Large
portions of the world’s workforce are finding that their best chances for survival hinge on
making a career transition. Whether by force or by choice, these workers often need guidance
and assistance to facilitate this transition.
This project looks at one such worker, a man nearing the age of 50 who is facing a forced
career transition. This paper outlines the coaching plan developed for this worker. The plan
consists of assessing the worker’s strengths and looks at how these strengths can be used to
mitigate the negative effects of the forced transition, such as depression, learned helplessness,
grief and loss of self-esteem. This plan will address weaknesses in the worker’s skill set that
may hinder his progress and success. Finally, this plan will include support and guidance to
facilitate this worker through the transition process. The goal of the plan is successful re-entry
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 4
into the workforce, the development of a viable career for the worker, and ultimately,
independence from the coach.
Background and Literature Review
According to the United States Department of Labor (USDOL), 14.9 million people are
currently unemployed. The national unemployment rate currently stands at 9.7 percent. The
number of long term unemployed (those who have not worked in 27 or more weeks) has reached
6.1 million persons. The USDOL also reports that there are 1.2 million discouraged workers in
the nation. Discouraged workers are those who are those who are no currently looking for work
because they believe that no jobs are available to them (Economic News Release: Employment
Situation Summary, 2010). The statistics listed by the USDOL are further defined according to
age, sex and race, specifically Men aged 20 and above, Women aged 20 and above, and men and
women aged 16-19 for white, African-American, and Asian workers (Table A-2. Employment
status of the civilian population by race, sex, and age, 2010). No statistics have been found to
date that state whether all or a portion of these workers are ‘older’ workers, or even by what
parameters or criteria an ‘older’ worker is defined. Further research is required to determine if
the USDOL has specifically captured statistics that measure job displacement for ‘older’
Few will argue whether the United States, and many other countries around the globe are
experiencing a depressed economy. Economic decline and depression has lead to wide-spread
job displacement for hundreds of thousands of workers, many of whom range in age from 40 to
70. While in decades past these workers could look forward to retirement, this is no longer the
case for the majority of these workers. Many organizations facing restructure are offering their
long-term employees early retirement as a means of reducing workforces (Brand, 2004). These
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 5
organizations often use the early retirements to prevent layoffs and, perhaps more importantly, to
protect their public image. However, costly emotional ramifications have been linked to
imposed early retirements, and these have been found to be similar to those of individuals who
have experienced involuntary job loss for other reasons (Nielsen, 2007). General Motors (GM)
for example, wiped out over 2000 unionized workers earlier this year. Like many cities facing
this type of action, the reduction of loss of businesses upon which they depend to help to shore
up their economic structures can have tremendous negative impact on already fragile economies.
These large numbers of workers are not easily absorbed into the local economies. Replacement
jobs become even more scarce when large numbers of workers are dumped, and competition for
those that remain becomes fierce.
Job displacement is widely considered a negative life event associated with subsequent
economic decline and depression, as shown by numerous studies. The widespread job insecurity
and waves of displacement have taken a severe toll on the well-being of the country’s workers
(Farley, 1996) (Kalleberg, 2000) (Levy, 1995) (Wetzel, 1995). Older workers’ share of job
displacements has grown disproportionately in recent years (Schmitt, 2004). Recent estimates
indicate that about one in five older workers lose their jobs over a 10- to 12-year period
(Johnson, Mermin, & Uccello, 2005). There is also evidence to suggest that the negative
economic and psychological effects of job displacement have been increasing among older
workers (Couch, 1998) (William T. Gallo, 2006). Job disruptions among older workers may be
particularly damaging, because late-career employment transitions are less common and older
workers are likely to have accumulated nontransferable firm- and/or industry-specific skills,
wages, and benefits. Leading to poor reemployment prospects and substantial economic hardship
(Dooley & Catalano, 1999) (Kessler, Turner, & House, 1988) (Price, Choi, & Vinokur, 2002).
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 6
Moreover, lost earnings can reduce wealth accumulated through pensions, Social Security, and
other savings, thus threatening retirement security (Brand, Levy, & Gallo, 2008).
Brand, Levy and Gallo’s found in their 2008 study of the effects experienced by older
workers as a result of layoffs, that men have a significant increase in depression resulting from
layoffs. Their research found this result to be consistent with the conclusion of Miller and
Hoppe (1994) who reported higher depression among men who were selected for termination
than among those whose jobs had been eliminated. When men are displaced, laid off or
terminated, they are found to be less likely to seek help than women. Historically, men
struggling with midlife challenges sought support from family and friends. Although in recent
decades some men have found help through psychotherapy, far more sought no help at all. The
advent of career and life coaching, however, may fill that gap that many men experience when
determining the best course of action in the wake of involuntary unemployment (Fronczak,
This paper focuses on the development of a coaching plan for a male worker, age 50,
facing possible involuntary unemployment.
Coaching the Mature Transitional Worker
This paper discusses the development of a coaching plan for a 50 year old male industrial
worker. Initial interview with this worker revealed the following:
This worker has worked for his present organization since January 2008, a civilian
contractor building torpedoes (both war-ready and exercise) for the United States Navy. Prior to
this employment, this worker accomplished the same work for a similar contractor who had held
the contract for seven years. At the end of the seven year contract period, the contract was
opened to the public for bids. The holding contractor lost the bid for the contract, and it was
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 7
subsequently awarded to the current contractor. The work being accomplished for this contract
is similar, following protocols, procedures, and processes as set forth by the Navy.
The job performed by this worker is considered high-stress on many levels. Weapons
production requiring the safe handling of ordnance is traditionally psychologically and
physically stressful. Much of the work is physically taxing. the technicians perform highly
technical procedures to stringent procedural protocols that are intellectually demanding, under
strict supervision while meeting extremely tight deadlines. Some units are required to perform
dangerous work under difficult safety protocols, such as those teams which disassemble spent
weapons that have been recently returned from exercise sea runs. This work entails release of
built of toxic gases and leftover fuels and requires that the workers wear cumbersome hazmat
suits that restrict their movement and interfere with their line of sight, compounding the
dangerous nature of the work. Inhalation and spill risks are inherent and constant, requiring the
worker to perform arduous labor at a level of extremely high intellectual and psychological
This worker at times is required to work outdoors, preparing completed weapons for
deployment to sea, loading them into large containers, lifting them on to flat-bed trucks, and
securing them to ensure safe transport to the docks for loading into submarines. The work
conditions vary at times from heavy, even hurricane force, winds and rain to humid 90-plus
degree sun. Hazardous conditions include chemicals such as oils, solvents, paints and adhesives,
dirt, dust, and salt or other corrosive elements. Work hours are generally long, sometimes up to
15 hours a day. Management styles also present less than ideal work conditions, as the
workforce reports considerable conflict and other issues stemming from the management style.
The majority of the upper- and mid-level managers have adopted their management style from
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 8
previous military experience, a style that tends to be dictatorial, authoritarian, overbearing and
even tyrannical at times. This management style is considered counterproductive by the majority
of the workforce, and objects to the style. In an effort to gather supporting data for this worker’s
coaching plan, this coach visited the worksite, spoke with other workers, and some of the
managers, and spent time observing the working conditions. It is this coach’s observation,
verified by the data gathered via discussions with both areas of the workforce, that many of the
managers have little or no management training and are using a trial-and-error management
process. Also, this coach observed that the worker’s are not allowed the opportunity to offer
feedback to management and overall, management does not seem to trust the workers to
accomplish their assigned tasks with accuracy or quality. As such, the workers tend to work
under severe micro-management.
Another aspect of this work environment that is resulting in increased stress for the
workforce stems from staffing issues. High turnover, terminated workers who are not replaced,
layoffs resulting from eliminated positions, and general reductions-in-force have resulted in an
atmosphere of anxiety that ranges from mild uncertainty to impending doom. Until recent
months, workers were allowed some latitude when mistakes occurred. Today, even minor
infractions or procedural non-compliances have lead to severe reprimand, suspension or
termination. An atmosphere of generalized ambient fear has developed. Workers are clearly
worried – many show signs of being distracted, preoccupied, irascible, and potentially provoked
into hopelessness or depression. Studies have shown that this type of workplace ambiance results
in negative emotional, psychological and physical effects throughout the workforce (Sills, 2009).
In September of 2008, one worker, pushed to the edge after working another 15 hour day in a
string of more than 10 days, dressed out in a hazmat suit under dangerous conditions, was told
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 9
that he would be required to work a double shift. When the worker expressed reluctance to do so,
citing that he was suffering from fatigue, he was told to either work the shift or not report to
work the next day. The worker stayed as required and completed the second shift. Then he left
the facility, called his wife of less than a month, drove to a park and hanged himself with his
shoelaces on the window of his truck. He was found dead the next morning, but the management
did nothing to acknowledge this worker’s contribution to the workforce or express sympathy or
condolences to the family.
Absenteeism is extremely high, workplace violence ranging from verbal altercations to
physical violence is pervasive, happening as often as three to four times per week, instances of
workers abusing alcohol and drugs are common, and other signs of hostile work environment are
visible. These and other negative effects are common in this type of work environment (Bishop,
Goldsby, & Neck, 2002).
The worker for whom this coaching plan is being developed reports negative effects
stemming from working in this environment. This worker reports a number of physical ailments
and conditions that appear to be exacerbated by the work environment, including pervasive pain
in knees, back, neck, shoulders and elbows, fatigue, inability to sleep, and lack of restful sleep,
headaches, vision problems, skin problems related to chemical exposure, and bouts of irritable
bowel syndrome (IBS). This worker reports Type II diabetes that may be exacerbated by stress
as well as related rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, both of which may also be aggravated by
This worker was asked to complete a number of tests for emotional conditions, including
the CES-D Questionnaire for depression, the Fordyce Emotions Questionnaire, the Optimism
Test, the Work-Life Questionnaire, and the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. In addition, this
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 10
worker completed the Keirsey Temperament Sorter II. Results of these test, as well as analysis
and conclusions are discussed later in this paper.
On a personal note, this worker is married to a woman with two adult children, a son, 22,
who lives with the couple and a daughter, 19, living elsewhere. His workplace is within five
minutes of his home, eliminating any extensive commute time. He rides a Harley-Davidson
motorcycle, which due to financial difficulties is his only means of transportation. His wife
owns a 15 year old car and uses it to commute to work a distance that requires more than 1 ½
hours each way. All members of the household are full-time students. This worker, realizing the
need to seek employment that is less physically taxing and more secure, began attending
University of Phoenix in 2005. Academically, this worker is experiencing challenges, and has
failed two of his algebra courses, rendering his financial aid for the school in jeopardy. The son
works sporadically, and uses his income to pay for his own needs, and does not support the
household with funds. The wife was recently laid off from her position with the State due to
cutbacks and reduction-in-force (RIF). Currently, this worker is the sole source of income for
the family. Their household also includes a number of pets – two large dogs, two cats, two
cockatiels and an eclectus parrot. The family rents their home, and the sum of their monthly bills
ranges approximately $3500 per month. This worker is also making payments to the Internal
Revenue Service for unpaid taxes from previous years, in the amount of $250 per month.
Establishing the Coaching Relationship
The coaching process is an experiential and individualized development process that
builds a client’s capability to achieve short- and long-term organizational goals. It is conducted
through one-on-one interactions, driven by data from multiple perspectives, and based on mutual
trust and respect. The client and the coach work in partnership to achieve maximum impact.
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 11
The coaching partnership is a win-win approach in which all partners plan the process together,
communicate openly, and work cooperatively toward the ultimate accomplishment of
overarching objectives (Forum, 2008).
Because of the intimate, collaborative nature of the coaching process, trust between the
client and the coach is paramount. One 2004 study sought to answer the question, What
coaching attributes, skills, and practices contribute to the most effective executive coaching
interventions? The aim of the research was differentiate attributes, skills, and approaches that
when present in a coach/client relationship lead to the most positive behavior change and
performance outcomes on the part of the client. The results of this research support the premise
that trust is the highest rated coaching attribute of primary importance to all rater groups
signaling the primacy of the relational aspects of coaching as the first gate to moving forward
with other interventions (Deborah M. Luebbe, 2005).
Methods for establishing trust between client and coach vary from individual to
individual. The principles of Gestalt therapy may lend some support to establishing the
client/coach relationship. Contact, how it occurs and develops, is fundamental to the principles
of Gestalt (Chidiac, 2008), and has been described as the ‘lifeblood of growth’, i.e. changing of
oneself and one’s experience of the world has relevance to the professional coach. The Gestalt
belief that growth and development occur as a result of contact with the environment, and that
contact can be understood as the process by which learning takes place. It stands to reason, then,
that the quality of coach/client relationship determines the effectiveness of the coaching, and
more precisely, whether the client is available to be taught – whether the client is interested and
excited about a partnership for learning. Trust and safety are critical to achieving ultimate
success, because interest, willingness, and receptiveness are a precondition of learning, without
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 12
which, the client is not able to assimilate new information or knowledge (Simon, 2009). While
many may enjoy the process of learning, few will move quickly into a relationship in which one
feels forced to enter, or in which one feels diminished relative to someone else’s expertise. A
client seeking the assistance of a coach is often functioning under a fragile self-esteem, one that
is easily compromised in the presence of another who is hierarchically positioned to teach the
client those things he or she believes he or she should already know (Simon, 2009).
In order for the coaching process to be successful, the client is required to place
significant trust in the coach. He allows himself to be vulnerable and open. To ensure that the
client remains receptive to feedback, new ideas, and learning, the coach must establish and
maintain a psychologically safe and respectful environment (Bachelor, Laverdiere, Gamache, &
Because of the sensitive and private nature of the process, the coach must be clear in
presentation of issues, information, coaching goals, coaching activities, and ground rules of
confidentiality. The American Psychological Association (APA) has set forth in the APA Code
of Ethical Conduct, which articulates clear and precise guidelines for confidentiality as well as
inarguable rules of engagement (Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, 2009).
These guidelines call for psychologists to function at the highest levels of integrity and candor,
and take steps to avoid the negative consequences that may result from the loss of reputation, or
disrespect of the client’s privacy. While coaches, per se, are not required to adhere to these
guidelines, it is recommended that coaches, nonetheless, operate at this level of integrity. The
present, not enough research exists that supports a strictly monitored and licensed field of
coaches, and additional study is recommended.
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 13
Coaching middle-aged men can be challenging. Because of cultural conditioning, they
often believe that they ‘should have all the answers.’ (Fronczak, 2005) Meeting with this client
turned out to be typical in some ways. The worker initially seemed anxious and guarded, while
at the same time, expressing an interest in moving forward with the coaching. He described how
excited he was to have found a coach with whom he could work out his career challenges, and
even launched almost immediately into requesting solutions to what he perceived were his
The temptation for any coach, when working with some new clients is to move directly
into action. As men tend to be more direct, and even controlling, this temptation can be difficult
to resist. However, it is important to remain cognizant that the relationship must be established
first, before any action can be entered. It is important to first build a foundation upon which to
begin the process of learning, to focus on building that connection with the client (Simon, 2009).
The process of establishing the contact with a client is often a subtle and nuanced
process. The coach draws upon his or her full repertoire of abilities to be present, show interest
in the client, and be open to contact. It is incumbent on the coach to maintain control of the
interview and influence the pacing of the interaction. A skilled coach makes countless
adjustments during the course of the interaction with the client, gauging actions and reactions
upon the client’s actions and reactions. At times this may mean adjusting tone, eye-contact, or
facial expression, and at times, adjusting the questions being asked.
Gestalt theory can be applied to contact between coach and client is also reflected in how
a coach works with resistance, as is sometimes the case when working with middle-aged adult
men. While it is not uncommon for a coach to be able to identify defensiveness and resistance in
clients, the Gestalt tenet of supporting resistance offers a clear direction for the coach to follow.
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 14
This means adherence to the paradoxical theory of change, a belief that genuine change occurs
more easily when one fully accepts what one is, rather than simply striving to be different
(Beisser, 1970). This tenet offers support for the premise that the coach can and should make
every effort to gain agreement with the client. Actions to accomplish this include mirroring the
client’s unconscious mannerisms, expressing empathy, sharing a personal experience that shows
that the coach has personal knowledge of the effects of a particular circumstance, and other
means of showing support.
For many reasons, Gestalt theory can be and has been successfully adapted to address
growth and development in individuals, couples, families, groups, and organizations. This
application of Gestalt theory to organizational behavior is logical, reasonable, and graceful
(Simon, 2009). Its contribution to the field of coaching has been shown to be valid and valuable.
The Coaching Process/Methodology: Theoretical framework
A number of psychological theories speak to the driving forces behind man’s motivation
to work. Coaching is most effective when it adheres to the tenets of one or more specific
approaches to coaching. In general, coaching, falls within four main categories – executive
coaching, career coaching, performance coaching and life/personal coaching. Of late, one more
type of coaching is gaining popularity – newly assigned leader coaching.
For this worker, a number of coaching approaches may be viable, including the cognitive
approach, the goal-focused approach, the adult-learning approach, and Gestalt theory approach.
These will be fundamentally supported by the principles of positive psychology. This worker’s
coaching plan will follow the basic actions required by career coaching, but will also draw from
some of the principles and actions of performance coaching and newly assigned leader coaching.
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 15
Career coaching, which helps individuals identify what they want and need from their
career, then make decisions and take necessary actions to accomplish their career objectives, will
be the main focus of this coaching plan. Career coaching takes into consideration the other areas
of the client’s life that require attention, and works to keep these elements in balance. This
coaching plan will also benefit from some of the elements of performance coaching, including
stress management, competencies analysis, and analysis of past performance gaps. Newly
assigned leader coaching also offers some elements from which this workers could benefit,
including leadership support, assimilation into a new position within a team, and gaining
agreement and loyalty from a group or others. This plan will also gather feedback from the
client, as well as his work environment to determine if particular behaviors require specific
This coach sees Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory as a viable application for this plan,
combined with a humanistic approach. Maslow’s Theory speaks to the priorities by which an
individual seeks to develop a fulfilled life, and ultimately reach a point of self-actualization.
According to this theory, humans are motivated to seek fulfillment of their physiological needs
of air, food, water, sleep, and clothing, and shelter first. Once this is accomplished, the
individual will seek a position of security, including a safe living area, job security, medical
insurance, and financial reserves. These needs are then succeeded by a need to fulfill social
needs, including friendship, acceptance and belonging to a group, and love. Once these needs
are met, the individual will move forward toward fulfilling these needs which support his or her
self-image, self-respect, and personal pride. For most individuals, these needs are often
dependent on others within the individual’s environment, as humans seek tend to seek agreement
and praise as a means of determining their importance within the social structure and the world
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 16
per se. These affirming elements can include external motivators such as recognition, attention
and social status, or may be combined with internal motivators such as accomplishment or self-
respect (Humanistic Psychology, 2010).
Finally, these needs having been met, the individual will work toward self-actualization.
These are the qualities that one seeks when reaching for one’s full potential as a person. Unlike
the lower level needs, the qualities of self-actualization are rarely fully satisfied. These needs are
motivated by such qualities as truth, justice, wisdom, and meaning, and are gained through
higher learning, peak life experiences and moments of profound harmony and happiness .
When this theory is applied for this worker, this coach determines that this worker is
currently functioning between the first and second levels, with the third and fourth levels
severely threatened, with the fifth level nonexistent. This workers safety needs are under the risk
of loss – job security, medical insurance, financial reserves. The loss of medical insurance is of
greatest concern for this worker, threatening his ongoing treatment of his Diabetes and his
overall health and well-being, as well as that of his family. Loss of his current position will
adversely affect his ability to provide for even his basic needs of food, water, and sleep. His
self-esteem is taking a toll while his resulting psychological behaviors of hostility, anger and
depression are threatening his ability to meet his social needs.
Positive psychology will provide a substantial supporting base for the plan. Studies have
found that positive psychology may help men build the necessary resources and resiliency to
buffer against midlife’s challenges. Enhancing positive emotions increases one’s thought-action
repertoire and coping strategies. The integration of positive psychology and coaching may
produce the necessary resources to prevent mid-life transition from developing into midlife crisis
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 17
The main focus of this plan will be to help this worker reach a position of personal and
professional security and ensure his ability to provide for his basic needs and those of his family;
i.e. to ensure secure employment, with reduced or eliminated risk of unemployment. This plan is
intended to maximize personal fulfillment, balance and meaning for this worker.
The Coaching Plan
Utilizing a Humanistic Approach, the coach and this worker will work collaboratively to
develop a plan to mitigate this worker’s weaknesses while augmenting his strengths. Steps will
be suggested by the coach that will present this worker’s skills and character strengths in the best
light, affording the best chance to take advantage of opportunities presented for this worker to
affect a transition (Forum, 2008). Following the Humanistic Approach, this worker will take the
reins in his own advancement, which should help this worker to feel empowered and improve his
The following actions have been determined to be most viable for this coaching plan:
1. Pre-coaching activities:
a. Initial interview with client
i. Establish trust and working relationship
ii. Present types of coaching and get feedback on client’s desires and
iii. Gain commitment to change and coaching process
b. Discuss contract and reach verbal agreement:
i. Fees for services, testing materials, job hunting expenses, etc.;
ii. Expectations on both sides;
iii. Expected outcomes;
iv. Determine milestones and measures of success;
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 18
v. Determine plan for mitigating unexpected outcomes;
vi. Determine timeframe and deadlines;
vii. Incorporate all elements of agreement into written document and
2. Assess client’s needs: The assessment phase of the coaching plan provides both
the coach and the client important information upon which to base a
developmental action plan. The assessment is customized and is made up a wide
variety of assessment instruments. Assessment process will include:
a. In-depth interview, and if possible, observation of the worker’s work
b. SWOT analysis: what is client’s perspective of his strengths, weaknesses,
opportunities and threats;
c. Gather data: Tests, assessments and questionnaires (See Appendices II –
VII for results of these tests):
i. CES-D Questionnaire to determine depression;
ii. Work-Life Questionnaire to assess overall satisfaction;
iii. Optimism test;
iv. Fordyce Emotions Questionnaire;
v. VIA Survey of Character Strengths;
vi. Kiersey Temperament Sorter II;
vii. 360 Feedback to determine worker’s level of accuracy of
perspective of the opinions of himself held by others;
3. Cocreating the Coaching Plan:
a. Goal Setting: these goals focus on achievements and changes that the
client expects. Initial goals will be established when the coaching begins,
and revised or refined as the coaching process progresses. Goals are based
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 19
on valid and reliable data that exemplify how the client should learn new
skills, change his behavior, work on priorities, or achieve specific results
(Grant & Cavanagh, 2007). This portion of the coaching plan
development will address:
i. What does this client hope to accomplish through this action plan?
ii. What are the client’s expectations?
b. Client’s weaknesses:
i. What psychological or emotional challenges is this worker facing
that required attention?
ii. What behavior or personality weaknesses will limit this worker’s
iii. What areas of client’s skill set are weak? This may be the area
where the client requires the deepest consideration. Often a
worker is transferred, laid off or transitioned because his or her job
has become obsolete due to advances in technology. This worker
has expressed a long-dormant desire to study cinema, specifically
film production and direction, and script writing. This is a
departure from the skill set he currently has, and will require return
1. Steps for upgrading client’s skill set or changing to a
different skill set:
a. Attend adult education:
i. Choose school, degree program or specialty;
ii. meet with guidance counselor to discuss
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 20
iii. Obtain transcripts and documents as needed;
iv. Apply for financial aid via FAFSA;
2. Lateral transfer to position that will offer training in other
3. Online schooling or skill training;
c. Client’s strengths:
i. What character strengths can this worker utilize?
ii. What skill strengths can be transferred to another type of work?
iii. Resume: Update:
1. Update and restructure goals and objectives;
2. Include up-to-date work history information;
3. Restructure to highlight current skills and character
4. Add additional training in progress and projected
i. What opportunities exist in this worker’s present organization?
ii. What opportunities exist in other organizations?
iii. Overlooked opportunities that this worker has not considered;
e. Milestones and measures of success: Each coaching plan is unique and
specific to the client. Men, in general tend to exhibit some resistance to
the coaching process, even when they have initiated the coaching process
and engaged the coach (Fronczak, 2005). As such, it may be difficult or
impossible to determine a reasonable timeframe by which this worker
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 21
should work through the coaching process. This worker’s perspective of
success will be the determining factor of milestones and measures.
i. Identify accomplishments that will be used to signify success:
1. Short-term milestones
2. Mid-term milestones
3. Long-term milestones
ii. Determine plan for mitigating effects of unexpected negative
Implementing the Plan
Once the coach and the client have agreed upon a viable plan of action, it becomes
incumbent upon the client to implement the processes, actions and strategies as outline in the
plan. The coach and the client will reconvene at least weekly to discuss those actions that have
been started, those that have been completed, and what the outcomes has resulted from each
action. The coach and client will agree upon not only a schedule for weekly face-to-face
meetings, but additional support via phone as well. This phone support will occur either
according to scheduled times or as needed as determined by the outcomes of the actions. The
coach will take steps during the contracting process to include a number of hours for phone
consultation, and will process these fees accordingly.
Measuring the Plan’s Success
Goal achievement is measured both qualitatively and quantitatively (Forum, 2008). After
a specified time, in accordance with the timeframes set forth in the coaching plan, the client will
be assessed for learning progress. New skills and capabilities will be tested or verified, via
certification or progress reports from instructors as appropriate. The worker will be retested for
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 22
changes in behavior, outlook, perspectives, ideas, attitudes, and overall emotional state and life
satisfaction. Weaknesses or skills areas will be measured against initial assessment data and
those which are showing little or no change will be reevaluated and a adjustments made to
mitigate the current outcomes.
The specific timeframe will be determined by the client. While skills assessments and
progress reports are excellent indicators of increases and improvements in skills, these
instruments speak only to the capabilities portion of this worker’s transition. Retesting for
emotional improvement in areas such as optimism, depression, personal confidence and personal
satisfaction will be evident by increases in scores of the CES-D Questionnaire for Depression,
the Work-Life Questionnaire to assess overall satisfaction, the Optimism test and the Fordyce
Emotions Questionnaire. Increases in these scores is expected.
Ultimately, the most reliable measure of success is two-fold: 1) when the client sees
measurable change and growth, and 2) when the client is no longer dependent upon the coach for
support, assistance or guidance. When the client feels confident that he or she can function
successfully in his or her personal and professional world without the assistance of the coach,
and is willing to sever ties to the coach.
Transitioning from Active Coaching through Long-Term Development and Closure
Upon completion of the coaching plan, the client and coach will then take steps to ensure
that the client will be able to continue his development. For this worker, that continued
development may mean continuing to attend school, pursuing an advanced degree in whatever
area he intends to pursue. As expressed earlier in this paper, this worker has expressed a desire
to work in the film industry. He will be required to return to school to learn this skill set, and
transitioning from dependence on the coach to independence can and should take place long
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 23
before he has achieved the goal of a degree. However, the client should have gained confidence
to move forward without the support or assistance of the coach. As a former client, though, the
coach will be available for refresher coaching sessions as needed, at an agreed-upon rate for
The transition process will include joint preparation of a long-term development plan
identifying future areas of focus and action steps. The coach will also recommend a range of
resources relevant to the client’s long-term development needs.
In most cases, transitioning includes handing off the monitoring of the long-term plan to
the client for self-regulation. The coach will continue to contact the client periodically to review
progress towards objectives and for goal reassessment. Ultimately, a successful coaching
process serves as a catalyst for the client’s long-term development. The client will be asked to
agree to recontact the coach upon completion of any long-term training or education, to discuss
relevance to the job market, changes that may have occurred in his goals or perspectives. Future
discussions will be opportunities to discuss gaps that might have emerged over time. The client
will be asked to agree to be held accountable for adhering to the original action plans and to any
subsequent plans that were developed close to the end of the coaching process. He will also be
asked to provide feedback to the coach on performance, strengths and development needs.
Finally, the client will be asked to keep the coach informed as to is later development in the
workplace, changes in job status, and any other evidence of growth and progress.
The coaching process is a complex one. It is intended to facilitate a client’s movement
from a position of uncertainty to one of confidence, improved performance, and greater
independence. Many professionals are now recognizing the value of engaging a coach to help
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 24
them reach these goals. For individuals such as the man who is the subject of this paper, the
stigma of working with a coach is subsiding, and is approaching being seen as normal, or in
some cases, even high-prestige. Coaching provides timely and target strategies for improving
one’s less-developed sides and using one’s strengths to one’s own advantage. Today the benefits
of coaching are being recognized and organizations as well as individuals are becoming more
accepting and supportive of coaching in recent years (Forum, 2008).
A skilled coach can be of enormous benefit to the worker who is facing the challenge of
weathering the storm of a depressed economy, professional complacency, and the changes that
advances in technology have brought. Although the field is still developing, and as with all
specialized concentrations, continues to evolve in response to changes in society, in business and
in organizational practice. The overarching principles of coaching, in its many forms, are still
being defined and refined. Moreover, the success or failure of a coaching process depends on the
willingness and acceptance of the client, and the skills, capabilities and expertise of the coach.
But certainly, the progress of coaching as a specialty warrants respect and continued
observation of the trends.
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 25
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COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 29
Coaching approaches – An overview
Humanistic perspective: this type of coaching works from a core belief in the basic goodness present and
in and respect for humanity. It is founded upon existential psychology, or the realization and
understanding of one’s existence and social responsibility. Humanistic theory is fostered on the
principles that support Maslow’s Hierarch of Needs Theory, and provides an understandable
mechanism for examining an individual’s need for conflict in order to create peace (Humanistic
Behavior-based coaching: this approach stems from the premise that human behavior flows from a
combination of affective, cognitive, behavioral, and spiritual elements. The focus is on behavior,
but the whole person is addressed,as it assumes that one’s behavior is the evidence of and results
from his or her experiences, perspectives, desires, beliefs and thoughts (Bono, Purvanova,
Towler, & Peterson,2009).
Adult-Development Theory: Often applied in executive coaching, this approach is based on the premise
that individuals develop and mature at different rates,reaching various stages in their lives at
different points and different ages. This approach is often useful with executives as it looks at
one’s tendency to develop into a more complex and multi-faceted being as experiences culminate
Cognitive Coaching: Grounded in cognitive therapy, this approach is based on the principle that one’s
moods are strongly related to and often triggered by one’s cognitions, i.e. perceptions, mental
attitudes, and beliefs. Contrasting with Freudian analysis, cognitive therapy does not focus on
repressed ideas, but rather, assists the client in identifying errors in thinking that may be limiting
success,and helps the client work toward finding and adopting more accurate cognitions that will
result in healthier behavior patterns (Moen, 2009).
Psychoanalytically Informed Coaching: By far the most comprehensive level of coaching, this approach
provides an in-depth insight into human nature, and encourages understanding an executive’s
inherently complex sense of self, as well as that of the coach. This approach requires a coach to
work with a client in a collaborative processes by using one’s self as an instrument of knowing
and requires development of reflective insight that permits locating and interpreting self-
experience generated within the coaching context and in daily life (Blass, 2010).
Goal-Focused Approach: This approach is based on the premise that all human behavior is a continual
process of moving toward or away from mental goal representations through a process of
feedback control. It assumes a process of self-regulation and an ability to direct interpersonal and
intrapersonal resources toward attainment of goals (Bandera,1978). This approach is being used
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 30
increasingly by coaches to help client’s set and reach personaland workplace goals (Grant &
Adult Learning Approach: This approach is based on the principles of andragogy, the art and science of
how adults learn. As adults learn differently than children, this includes such theories as
transformative learning, reflective practice,and experiential learning. Moreover, it considers
learning styles from an adult perspective, and correlates them with such adult-relevant factors as
life-course development and values and motivation (Jarvis, 2006).
Positive Psychology: The intent and focus of positive psychology is to develop sound theories of optimal
functioning and to find empirically supported ways to improve lives of ordinary and
extraordinary people (Seligman, 2002). This approach is based on emerging trends in psychology
study the value of positive emotion, flow, hope therapy, and strengths utilization. This differs
from traditional psychology theory and practice as it shifts attention away from pathology and
pain and refocuses it on clear-eyed concentration on strength, vision, and dreams (Anonymous,
Gestalt Theory: Although historically applied to psychotherapy for individuals, Gestalt theory offers a
theoretical approach to learning. Gestalt principles explore and define the relationship between
the self and environment, and include field theory, ground relativity, paradoxical change,
experiment, cycle of experience, and inter-personal contact. Gestalt theory advocates creative
choice, optimism, and the premise that growth and development result from contact and
awareness (Simon, 2009).
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 31
CES-D Score March 13, 2010
48 0 to 60
98 % 98 % 98 % 98 % 98 % 98 %
Here is your score on the CES-D Questionnaire, which measures symptoms of depression, for comparison
to the various happiness measures.
This test is scored so that higher scores indicate greater symptoms of depression. Before interpreting your
score,you should know that a high score is not the same thing as a diagnosis of depression. Some people
who get high scores are not in fact depressed,and people with low scores can still have a "depressive
disorder." A full-blown diagnosis of depression depends on other things, such as how long your
symptoms have lasted and whether they have some primary source other than depression. A diagnosis can
be made only after a thorough interview with a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist.
If you scored from 0 to 9, you are in the nondepressed range,below the mean of American adults; 10 to
15 puts you in the mildly depressed range; and 16 to 24 puts you in the moderately depressed range. If
you scored over 24, you are in the severely depressed range.
If you scored in the severely depressed range, please seek treatment. If you believe that you would kill
yourself if you had a chance,regardless of the rest of your answers,please see a mental health
professional right away. If you scored in the moderately depressed range (and you do not often think
about killing yourself), take the test again in two weeks. If you still score in that range, we recommend
making an appointment with a mental health professional.
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 32
Here are your scores on the Work-Life Survey. For how to interpret your scores, see thebook Authentic Happiness.
It's a Job March 13, 2010
3 0 to 3
100 % 100 % 100 % 100 % 100 % 100 %
It's a Career March 13, 2010
3 0 to 3
100 % 100 % 100 % 100 % 100 % 100 %
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 33
It's a Calling March 13, 2010
0 0 to 3
34 % 33 % 33 % 57 % 40 % 31 %
Satisfaction with Job March 13, 2010
2 1 to 7
12 % 13 % 12 % 18 % 13 % 7 %
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 34
Here are your scores on the OptimismTest. Thefollowing two sections will explain the two basic dimensions of optimism. There
are two crucial dimensions to your explanatory style:permanence and pervasiveness.
For further information see the book AuthenticHappiness.
People who believe good events have a permanent cause are more optimisticthan thosewho believe they have temporary causes.
If your score is 7 or 8, you are very optimisticabout the likelihood of good events continuing; 6, moderately optimistic;4 or 5,
average; 3, moderately pessimistic;and 0, 1, or 2, very pessimistic.
Permanent - Good Events March 13, 2010
2 0 to 8
10 % 10 % 9 % 12 % 10 % 9 %
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 35
People who give up easily believe thecauses of thebad events that happen to them are permanent, thebad events will persist, are
always going to be there to affect their lives. Peoplewho resist helplessness believe the causes of bad events are temporary .
If your score is 0-1, you are very optimisticon this dimension; 2 or 3, moderately optimistic;4 average, 5 or 6 quite pessimistic;
and if you got a 7 or 8 you are very pessimistic.
Permanent - Bad Events March 13, 2010
3 8 to 0
68 % 65 % 72 % 65 % 65 % 69 %
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 36
The optimist believes good events will enhance everything he does, while the pessimist believes good events are caused by
If your score is 7 or 8, you are very optimistic; 6, moderately optimistic;4 or 5, average; 3, moderately pessimistic;and 0, 1, or 2,
Pervasive - Good Events March 13, 2010
0 0 to 8
1 % 2 % 1 % 1 % 1 % 3 %
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 37
People who make universal (pessimistic) explanations for their failures give up on everything when a failure strikes in one area.
People who make specific (optimistic) explanations may become helpless in that one part of their lives, yet march stalwartly on
If your score is 0-1, you are very optimisticon this dimension; 2 or 3, moderately so; 4 average, 5 or 6 quite pessimistic; and if
you got a 7 or 8 very pessimistic
Pervasive - Bad Events March 13, 2010
4 8 to 0
83 % 85 % 88 % 80 % 79 % 87 %
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 38
Whether or not we have hope depends on the two dimensions of Permanence and Pervasiveness taken together. Finding
permanent and universal causes of good events along with temporary and specific causes for misfortune is the art of hopefinding
permanent and universal causes for misfortune and temporary and specific causes of good events is thepractice of despair.
If your score is 10 to 16, you are extraordinarily hopeful; 6 to 9, moderately hopeful; from 1 to 5, average, from minus 5 to 0,
moderately hopeless; and below minus 5, severely hopeless.
Hopefulness March 13, 2010
-5 -16 to +16
3 % 4 % 2 % 4 % 3 % 4 %
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 39
Fordyce Emotions Questionnaire
The average score (out of 10) is 6.92
Percent of Time Happy
The average score on time is happy, 54.13 percent; unhappy, 20.44; and neutral, 25.43
Fordyce Emotions Questionnaire
Average Happiness March 13, 2010
4 0 to 10
20 % 24 % 20 % 23 % 20 % 15 %
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 40
Fordyce Emotions Questionnaire
Percent of Time Happy
March 13, 2010
0 to 100
10% 13% 11% 12% 9% 9%
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 41
VIA Survey of Character Strengths
Here are your scores on the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. For how to interpret and use your scores, see the book Authentic
Happiness. Theranking of the strengths reflects your overall ratings of yourself on the 24 strengths in the survey, how much of
each strength you possess. Your top five, especially those marked as Signature Strengths, are theones to pay attention to and find
ways to use more often.
Your Top Strength
Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
Thinkingof newways to do things is a crucial part of who youare. Youare never content withdoingsomethingthe conventional way
if a better way is possible.
Your Second Strength
Appreciation ofbeautyand excellence
Younotice andappreciate beauty,excellence, and/or skilledperformancein all domains of life, fromnaturetoart tomathematics to
science to everydayexperience.
Your Third Strength
Humor and playfulness
Youlike to laugh andtease. Bringingsmiles to otherpeopleis important toyou. Youtrytosee the light side of all situations.
Your Fourth Strength
Kindness and generosity
Youare kindandgenerous to others,andyouare nevertoobusy to do a favor. Youenjoydoinggooddeeds for others, even if youdo
Your Fifth Strength
Youare a courageous person who does not shrink fromthreat, challenge, difficulty, or pain.Youspeakup for what is right even if
there is opposition. Youact onyour convictions.
Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness
Youare an honest person, not onlyby speakingthe truth but by livingyour life in a genuine andauthentic way. Youare down to earth
andwithout pretense; youare a "real"person.
Curiosity and interest in the world
Youare curious about everything. Youare always askingquestions, andyoufindall subjects andtopics fascinating. Youlike
Judgment,critical thinking, and open-mindedness
Thinkingthings through andexaminingthem fromall sides are important aspects ofwho youare.Youdo not jump to conclusions,
andyourely only onsolidevidencetomake your decisions.Youare able to change your mind.
Love of learning
Youlove learningnewthings, whether in a class or on your own. Youhavealways lovedschool,reading, andmuseums-anywhere and
everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.
Youare aware of the goodthings that happentoyou, andyounever takethemforgranted. Your friends andfamilymembers know
that youare a grateful person because youalways take thetime toexpress your thanks.
Although youmaynot thinkof yourselfas wise, your friends holdthis viewof you. They value your perspective onmatters andturn
to youfor advice.Youhave a way of lookingat the worldthat makes sense to others andto yourself.
Citizenship,teamwork, and loyalty
Youexcel as a member of a group. Youare a loyal anddedicatedteammate, youalways do your share,andyouwork hardforthe
success of your group.
Youexcel at the tasks of leadership: encouraginga group toget things done andpreservingharmonywithinthe group by making
everyone feel included. Youdo a goodjoborganizingactivities andseeingthat theyhappen.
Youare aware of the motives andfeelings of other people.Youknowwhat todo to fit in to different social situations, and youknow
what to do to put others at ease.
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 42
Fairness,equity, and justice
Treatingall people fairlyis one of your abidingprinciples. Youdo not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other
people. Yougive everyone a chance.
Zest, enthusiasm, and energy
Regardless of what youdo, youapproachit withexcitement andenergy. Younever do anythinghalfway orhalfheartedly. For you, life
is an adventure.
Capacitytolove and be loved
Youvalue close relations with others, in particular those in which sharingandcaringare reciprocated. The peopletowhom youfeel
most close are the samepeoplewho feel most close toyou.
Forgiveness and mercy
Youforgive those who have doneyouwrong. Youalways give people a secondchance. Your guidingprincipleis mercyandnot
Industry,diligence, and perseverance
Youwork hardto finish what youstart.No matter the project, you"get it out the door" in timelyfashion.Youdo not get distracted
when youwork, andyoutakesatisfaction incompletingtasks.
Youare a careful person, andyour choices are consistentlyprudent ones. Youdo not say ordo things that youmight later regret.
Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness
Youexpect the best in the future, andyouwork toachieve it. Youbelieve that the future is somethingthat youcan control.
Youdo not seek thespotlight, preferringtolet your accomplishments speak for themselves. Youdo not regardyourself as special,and
others recognize andvalue your modesty
Self-control and self-regulation
Youself-consciouslyregulatewhat youfeel andwhat youdo. Youare a disciplinedperson. Youare in control of your appetites and
your emotions, not vice versa.
Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith
Youhave strongandcoherent beliefs about the higherpurpose andmeaningof theuniverse. Youknowwhere youfit in the larger
scheme. Your beliefs shapeyour actions andare a source of comfort toyou.
COACHING PLAN FOR THE MATURE WORKER 43
Kiersey Temperament Sorter II
My personality type: Idealist.
Idealists as a temperament, are passionately concerned with personal
growth and development. Idealists strive to discoverwho they are and
how they can become their best possible self--always this quest for self-
knowledge and self-improvement drives their imagination. And they want
to help others make the journey. Idealists are naturally drawn to working
with people, and whether in education or counseling,in social services or
personnelwork, in journalism or the ministry, they are gifted at helping
others find their way in life, often inspiring them to grow as individuals
and to fulfill their potentials.
Idealists are enthusiastic, they trust their intuition, yearn for
romance, seek their true self, prize meaningful relationships,
and dream of attaining wisdom.
Idealists pride themselves on being loving, kindhearted, and
Idealists tend to be giving, trusting, spiritual, and they are
focused on personal journeys and human potentials.
Idealists make intense mates, nurturing parents, and
Idealists are relatively rare, making up no more than 15 to 20 percent of
the population.But their ability to inspire people with their enthusiasm
and their idealism has given them influence far beyond their numbers.