After enjoying a string of promotions and pay rises, a manager finds his career has stalled. Now in his late forties, he is overlooked for jobs and young managers snap at his heels. The sad truth is the manager’s career – at least at this organisation – has run as far as it can.
A career re-invention and bold risk-taking are needed. The smart move is leaving the company and perhaps even taking a small backward step so he’s moving in the right direction again. But a mortgage, school fees and several mouths to feed make it harder to take chances. A career re-invention and bold risk-taking are needed.
Two things generally happen at this point. The manager becomes grumpy and resentful at work, always eager to criticise or block ideas, rather than praise and support them. And the problems spill over to his personal life, with this deep resentment ruining relationships.
I bet many reading this blog have seen colleagues suffer a professional “mid-life crisis” that wrecks their professional and personal life. They are intensely unhappy at work and at home, and seemingly unable to do anything about it. The resentment builds and builds, their workplace is poorly equipped to help them, and they are reluctant to talk about the problem.
It’s even harder for small business owners who may have little or no workplace support.
What’s your view?
– Have your suffered a professional mid-life crisis, or are suffering one?
– How did you get over it?
– Have you seen colleagues suffer one?
– Was there sufficient support at work to help them through it?
I wonder how much these professional mid-life crises cost employers, and why companies don’t do more to help affected staff help themselves.
What a terrible waste to see managers who were once highly skilled, productive and motivated, operating in second gear or on cruise control. And companies doing nothing to help a long-serving employee recover and build, and become more productive.
I asked Shannah Kennedy, a leading life coach and author of Simplify, Structure, Succeed, about the incidence of professional mid-life crises. Kennedy has plenty of experience with this topic: she counsels executives and company directors who experience the highs and lows of business.
She says two types of workers are most susceptible to mid-life career crises. “Many of my clients are incredibly successful and travelled the world with their companies. They hit 50 and ask themselves: where are my friends, what have I done all this for? They may have got a little too caught up in it all without a proper plan that included some structure and acknowledgement of having developed a life outside work.
“The second type are those that may have played it too safe and did not want to take risks, and now go into a world of regret. They hit a certain age where they cannot take risks and realise they maybe left their run a little too late, which pulls them into a bit of a crisis.”
Kennedy says there are signs of an emerging mid-life career crisis. “People start to doubt their decisions in their career, marriage and other life choices. And they either lack energy or feel a need to go crazy. They also seem to crave intimacy.”
Depression and divorce are the two main outcomes of a professional crisis, says Kennedy. “(People suffering one) make irrational decisions and think the grass is greener somewhere else. They throw away a lot of things they already have.”
Sadly, most employers do not help staff work through their crisis, says Kennedy. “Men, who are mostly affected by this problem, don’t talk about it enough for companies to help them. To get through it unscathed, you often need some support and assistance, and companies generally don’t have the tools to do this.”
Overcoming a professional and/or personal mid-life crisis is not easy. But some simple steps can help those affected find a path to recovery, says Kennedy. “Start with owning that you are in a crisis, and admitting you are going through a massive change. Then forgive yourself for all the irrational decisions you may have made that hurt others, and ruined much of what you built, as so often happens with affairs, divorces, and job losses.
“Then decide to rebuild and find something you can be passionate about that will give you purpose and direction. We all evolve and change, we all grow and continue to learn new things, so it is time to just acknowledge it, get some support and move forward.”
*Original Article by Tony Featherstone: http://www.theage.com.au/small-business/managing/blogs/the-venture/help-im-having-a-midcareer-crisis-20140226-33hkp.html