COUNSELING, defined as cooperation with the client, focusing on the discovery of often ignored aspects of ourselves and our affections, in relation to our professional sphere.
The consulting intervention
Counseling is a form of consulting intervention aimed at personal wellbeing, which leads to an improvement in one’s own and organisation’s performance.
Counseling is a process that offers the client the chance to understand in more depth the work-related facts that cause distress, through a comprehensive personal reflection. The method used is reflexive dialogue, through which the clients can give a new sense to their problems and make the right decisions to solve them. Exploring unknown aspects, or aspects of which people are partly or totally unaware, is a discovery that enables people to understand the material aspects that encourage sustainable and long lasting change. Sustainability is defined as the activation of processes that people, as professionals, are able to use both in terms of ability and authority. In this sense, benefits are intended at all times both for the person and for the organisation. As a matter of fact, the role of the counsellor is to strengthen the coexistence between the person and the organisation. The counselor does not intervene at the place of his client and does not take responsibility for their decisions.
In the dialogues, the counselor acts as a tool to listen to the problems described by his client, in order to help the latter discover unknown things or things of which he/she is unaware. The counselor’s abilities are based on the background of theoretical knowledge necessary to face the various situations of the organisation and of the individual, on the clear analysis of the framework of cause and effect relations, and on his/her communication capacity. To do this satisfactorily, the Counselor relies upon a supervisor who helps him to keep a high self-awareness. To use a musical metaphor, the Counselor can create harmony in people only if he is a tuned instrument.
Inclusive approaches to solve work-family tensions
The family (an aggregate system of affections) and the organization represent two interdependent and interrelated systems with possible conflicting values and behaviours. Two sets of different paradigms can be contemplated: family is driven by emotions, individuals’ need for affiliation and self-fulfilment, whereas business is driven by performance, result and accomplishment. The polarization of the two opposites can create a dilemma in family businesses where the family perspective and the organizational context coexist intrinsically. However, also in other situations leaders and professionals can suffer pressure and tensions as a consequence of the coexistence of two contradictory worlds. The capacity to harmonise two opposite worlds is the subject of the Counseling interventions dealing with such issues as those listed below:
- What do I bring with me from home into my work? To what extent my personal side fits into the organization? Is my self-awareness the same in both cases?
- How can I manage those situations in which people at work are playing family roles (e.g. son, mother, dad) instead of playing their organizational roles?
- How far my work situation affects my family relationships, and vice versa? For example, to what extent intra generation relationships work differently for me at home or at work?
- In our current family business, what are the ways we make strategic and organizational decisions? Is it more family or business driven?
- What kind of leader am I at home and at work? What has my family to do with the way I interact and work with other people?
- What is the influence of my family system on me as a leader?
Work Identity, Professional Perspectives & Career Transition
Transition phases cannot be planned timely at all times, as there might be sudden changes. Thus, people have to manage emotional situations due to uncertainty. People question their identity, the most suitable opportunities, and the ways to rethink their professional development and be successful. Each person can start discovering the full set of possibilities our inner richness provides us with; however, they cannot do without the effort that the process of change requires to rethink one’s professional future. Counseling helps to work through it successfully and appropriately manage difficult questions such as:
- Towards what do I want to change? Towards my ideals, my passions or simply away from what I need to leave?
- How can I make the right choice rather than falling into another wrong choice?
- Who do I really want to become? What I think I want in the future?
- I struggle knowing what is essential to me.
- I feel I cannot move because I do not know exactly where to go.
- After a long period of stability, I feel the need for change, but I cannot switch to another job. What can I do?
- I ask myself whether all that I did in my work really makes sense.
- Am I still in time to enrich my professional life with an important personal success, or is it too late for this?
- I feel the need to dedicate my time and energies to more important things, but I cannot switch to another job.
360° and 720° Feedback
Becoming better leaders is about learning how we are and want to be; only afterwards we can serve as leaders for others, as there are no leaders without followers. Hence, looking into ourselves in search for inner motivation and inspiration allows us to describe ourselves as a person and then as a leader, too. 360° and 720° feedbacks help increasing our emotional intelligence, that is, knowing our emotions, understanding the origin of our feelings, and managing them. This process is also beneficial to recognize the emotions in others, increase our empathy and handle relationships with more respect and fairness to others. Feedback helps opening unknown parts of ourselves. Below are some examples:
- What effect am I having on the others at work?
- What are my blind spots?
- What does my family think about my behaviours or attitudes? How does this affect my work or my professional ambitions?
- What patterns do I keep repeating in my professional life which I am not necessarily aware of or which I underestimate?
- What gives me the greatest sense of joy, inspiration and excitement?
- What makes me sad or angry?
- What disturbs or irritates me in the relationships with other people? What can I change? How?
- How do I feel listening to other person feedback? What will others feel in relation to my feedback on them?
- What kind of people do irritate me and what kind of people, conversely, do excite me? Why, exactly, and what does this involve?
- Do people working for/with me respect me? Do I respect the people working for/with me?
- Do people working for/with me trust me? Do I trust the people working for/with me?
Changes in our professional world affects many people’s capacity to keep the pace in terms of skills and abilities, with the result that people feel that they no longer fit their job. New organisational, managerial, and technological models affect flexibility, extent of responsibilities, interpersonal networks, management of one’s time and space, and one’s abilities as a human being as a whole. The consulting approach helps people facing these problems in an inclusive manner, encompassing values and beliefs, own and managerial responsibilities, organisation of work, company and personal resources. The consulting approach also helps extend the range of managerial competences to cover health and wellbeing aspects, for a sustainable management of human capital. Counseling activities enable people to:
- Withstand adverse events and stressful situations w/o developing physical or emotional symptoms.
- Have the capacity to choose courses of action for dealing with stress.
- Have an optimistic disposition toward new experiences and change in general.
- Feel to be in control mode and stay calm.
- Have a repertoire of suitable responses to difficult situations.
- Recognize and detect the various signals of stress and the degree of their dangerousness.
- Intervene using right responses adequate to the stages of the threatening situation.
- Have the capacity to be calm and composed, taking control of problems one by one.
- Foster resilience to improve the capacity to work under pressure in a flexible, adaptable and strong way.