The Second Act

The Second Act

An emerging HR role throws an invaluable lifeline to employees who are about to take a career plunge yet again

Ever thought of being a Second-Act Coach? The designation may sound fancy and made-up, but this is one role that can prove of immense help to people who are trying to rebuild their careers, and perhaps even their lives – especially at a time when the world is rocked by uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Across geographies and throughout organisations, the office is never going to be the same again after the storm passes over. Jobs are already crumbling in some sectors more alarmingly than others, and none can stay immune in a world where we had been stressing on interconnectivity for the last few years. The Domino Effect is sure to catch up sooner or later.

Yes, there will be downsizing, and resources are going to be reshuffled in a big way to suite the new normal. But at the same time companies of standing and repute will try their best to retain and re-accommodate talent within the new framework. Such organisations never think in terms of sacking or petty profiteering. Rather, as and when the need arises, they try their best to support employees in coping up and realigning with disruptions and transformations. For them, career-support is integral to HR functions.

In the new era, as much as in the new normal, persons who had held one-job/one-career/one-role throughout life will become extinct. Younger employees are not interested in linear career progression anyway and are eager to try out options. For them, as well as for the rest of the workforce, fluid career models are the new reality. Roles will change, expectations and targets will shift, skills will have to be unlearned and relearned – because nothing except change is permanent.

This, exactly, is where a Second-Act Coaches come in. Their responsibility solely rests on helping employees transition into new roles. And yes, top companies have already incorporated this niche function into their resource management workflow. Their support goes beyond the immediate requirements of the organisation. Second-Act Coaches will be helping out any people – either junior or senior – who are about to take a career plunge; might be a new start-up, might be a dormant hobby, might be a challenging lateral shift within the same set-up.

Usually, the process that a Second-Act Coach follows while supporting the employee who is going to embark on the “second act” can be broadly segmented into four steps:

  • Introspection – This is where the employee looking for a change approaches the Second-Act Coach. It is the task of the Coach to make the employee soul-search and come up with the right options that can fulfil their latent dreams, visions or aspirations. The Coach is to act as the catalyst throughout the self-introspection process, guiding the employee to stay afloat and on course.
  • Articulation – Once the options had been narrowed down, it is time to articulate or document the exact action points that are required to be undertaken to successfully complete the desired transition. This will involve meticulously documenting whatever upskilling, reskilling, relocating or rebuilding is required. This is a joint exercise where the Coach guides and supports.
  • Prospecting – Now it is time to match the articulated objectives and aspirations against real-life opportunities. The Coach takes personal initiative to explore all possible avenues.
  • Grooming – Once the match has been made and the new path finalised, the Coach trains/prepares/supports the employee in all material way possible to make the actual transition as smooth as possible.

So who can be a Second-Act Coach? Being mostly a counselling-centric HR function, academic degrees in psychology, counselling and organizational behaviour will hold good. Additionally, certification as well as experience in professional coaching are in demand. One also need to possess an inside-out knowledge of the career market and available freelance/contractual opportunities across locations and industries. And yes, one positively needs to be a “people person” – because this role is all about people and their personal aspirations. Without empathy and sincere compassion, no one can be – and should be – a Coach.

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