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How I make a career impact to a mid-senior operations manager after 15 years on the job

Updated: May 24

*Sarah, has worked as a Senior Operations Manager for more than 15 years in a well-known food service company. She plays a key role to manage and motivate a team of ground employees, handle outlet operations, oversee new outlets' set-up and ensure process efficiency for better productivity.

*Let’s call her Sarah. I’ll need to use pseudonyms for the client's confidentiality. Some details are altered as the name of the firm can be easily identified. Majority of the details remain the same. Any name reference from the above is purely coincidental.

She leads and grooms people, bring them together to achieve customer excellence across each outlet.

She knows her people inside-out and care for them.

As such, the front-service folks deliver exceptional service and thereafter hit significant milestones in sales.

For newbies, she is in charge of onboarding and training them. She has also developed a training manual to standardize the delivery.

In short, she has built a great track record.

However, something hit her hard after more than a decade of experience.

She feels that her knowledge is skewed towards a single work environment. She is superbly comfortable in this role. It's the only job she has been in throughout the years.

She wants to develop a broader / wider perspective across various occupational interests in other industries.

In addition, she feels jaded after working in the same job for many years. According to Sarah, there isn't any internal recruitment that fits into her skills and operational expertise.

Looking outwards, she wonders what she can do apart from operations, or perhaps moving purely towards similar profession but in a different industry.

In addition, she is also emotionally connected to her past role.

Henceforth, whatever she said, it’s co-related back to the past. She fondly remembers the happy work-specific moments.

While it’s easy to acknowledge that she has moved on from a verbal standpoint, her past corporate experience continues to flood her memories.

She will always reminisce about the good old days.

Hence, she is seen as being “stuck in the past” and finds it challenging to take small steps forward.

Interestingly, she decides to take a career break (quit her last job) eventually! That's before she has seen me.

Now, she wants to understand if the decision is rash or logical.

She is keen to develop and implement a Career Action Plan that lands her into a new mid-senior role (hopefully in operations, this is what she is good at)

But food service industry is out - too much time spent there. It has to be something new and invigorating for Sarah yet it's relatable.

What's out there in the job market?

The Early Conversation

Ken has identified the various moving parts that affected her thoughts after an initial discovery call:

1) Strong emotional alignment from her past role that made her comfortable in what she does, but self-question what she can do in other jobs

2) Highly proficient and experienced in outlet operations, staffing and cost efficiency

3) Felt burnt-out after many years working in the foodservice industry

It's an outward career transition. It's also a situation that is filled with psychological impact (in a good way) and a lack of self-belief/self-clarity regarding the matching of her expertise to potential jobs in the workforce.

The Logic & Delivery

Ken decides to further investigate the emotional "trigger" points, with an objective to help reframe her thought process in small bite-sized moments across a positive way.

By the way, she is not seen as one who is theoretical or analytical on concepts/models. She is a bubbly, easy-going person after our virtual encounter.

The key is for her to self-realize and get empowered to focus on 1-3 beautiful career moments that are specific and measurable. I'll also zoom into to her skills to discover where her transferable abilities are. From there, we can use the information to plot out potential jobs that may be worth exploring.

On addressing the emotional aspects from her job - this is done by using a 3-step approach:

1) An informal 1:1 chat

The idea is to get her comfortable to open up more, and find out why she gets deeply attached in her job previously. Is it due to her day-to-day tasks, new surprises spring up and she is happy to problem solve, or the people around that makes her happy?

What is it that makes her job satisfied?

I prepare some informal exercises using sheets of paper, bounce off thoughts and commence the ranking of various indicators based on classification like "people", tasks" and any other details she has mentioned during the coaching session.

This helps me to find the root causes, and to learn what's important. To do this, I have to link the pieces up to make inferences/hypothesis.

2) Using tools

"Personality Profiling - 16Personalities (NERIS Type Explorer) + Knowdell Value Card Sorts"

To ensure we have an all-rounded approach and not missing anything out.

Based on her input from taking the complimentary 16Personalities (i.e. she is an Executive (ESTJ) and validating with Knowdell Value Card Sorts, I spot common patterns/keywords -- norms/values that matter to her most.

I then extract them out to develop deeper-dive conversations. To validate, I have also asked her to provide up to 5x testimonials (i.e. it can be from email exchanges) from her senior leadership or folks that benefitted from her.

As such, based on the information fleshed out and from step 1 above, I gather she is a People Person. She is passionate and one who leads by examples.

She believes in work dedication who possesses strong integrity and enjoys creating order - i.e. which explains why the training manual is designed in bite-sized pieces, so that everyone is able to follow it and thereafter produce similar positive, operational output.

She is also known to be a person who cares for her counterparts, reshuffle schedules accordingly and always try different ways to motivate her staff in the outlets despite mundane work.

Folks have commented that she is energetic, on-the-go, welfare-seeking person who cares and ensures the operational process of getting the F&B orders out are efficient (yet not stress the guys out during peak hours - everyone has a station - either flip burgers, deep-fry the fries or fill up cups of lemon tea for the customers)

3) Map out potential jobs from identifying the anchor points using personality & values

This is where it gets interesting. We re-focus back on "people" and "operations" as the Career Anchor Points as per our 1:1 coaching and consultation sessions. Sub-points are included from each of the Career Anchor Points. From there, the insights are expanded wider till we nail down possible occupations (up to 5) that she feels are co-related with it.

These are jobs that she feel comfortable doing and yet something she has never thought of.

Next, I focus on skills. Using a simple Skill Quadrant, and drawing back to her key achievements as seen in her resume, I manage to flesh out her top 3 specific and measurable skills. Due to confidentiality, I can't mention too much but you get the core details.

In general, she has excellent franchise operation management abilities from selecting the site (for the foodservice outlet), liaising with the builders to construct it, employing the right staff, train them and get them up-to-speed. It's just like any Franchisees but a wholly-owned entity since she is a full-time mid-senior staff. She is also astute in people management at the operation level.

Now, it's time to utilize the intelligence to design her simple Career Action Plan.

One of the jobs that interest her is Logistics Manager in 3PL firms - zooming into e-Commerce as an option. The other deliverables in the plan is to transform her portfolio.

This includes her resume and cover letter, LinkedIn optimization and an accolade of awards/testimonials that support her key achievements. She will also need to develop a strong pitch that exemplify her skills, values and underlying beliefs. Networking is not a problem for her, since she can revisit her corporate contacts, suppliers and vendors.

Shaping Sarah's plan to her career options

We also engaged in mock interview practices. Share practical and doable techniques, depending on the requirements of the job lead.

The Outcome

Sarah is delighted to remove her emotional baggage, not dwell on her past (well, that is really sweet memories!), reframes her mind due to awareness on her personality and value-based system. She deliberately chooses to pick up the key memorable moments, quantify it from a skill-based perspective and transform into a compelling elevator pitch. This makes her confident, progressive and forward-thinking.

She connects them to jobs that interest her and match the attributes alongside the job specifications. Then, she pens it down in her resume (with me working closely together), learn about resume customization to finalize the copy. She is ready to apply for jobs.

Happy that she receives a number of interview call-ups! How did I know? She is elated and starts to WhatsApp me! I think this is really rewarding. Glad that I make an impact on her.

Last I know, she secures a mid-senior job in a large 3PL enterprise across the logistics sector.

Are you in the same spot as Sarah? Do you have burning questions in mind?

Schedule a complimentary 45 minutes Discovery Call with Ken, the Career Counsellor.

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