Career Coaching: having my personality mapped and learning to ‘be more Bolt’

Vivienne 2

A month ago I won a competition to go and have some career coaching with two great companies: Willis Towers Watson Careers, and Planet K2. The prize was made up of two parts: 1) A Saville Wave Test, and coaching session with Willis Towers Watson and 2) a Performance coaching session with Planet K2.

Willis Towers Watson (WTW from now on…we know Virgin loves a good acronym) sent me over a Saville Wave Test to start with. It’s effectively a multiple choice test to map your personality and behaviours- it tends to be used a lot in recruitment to see what come naturally to you, and the things you find more challenging, as well as how you tend to react to certain situations. I did the test online and then headed over to Holborn to go to WTW’s offices, to find out my results.

I have to say, it was a bit weird at first to go into a meeting and have my personality on an A4 page. It shows you your ‘signature strengths’ and ‘challenge areas’ and it gives you advice on how to maximise those things and use them wisely. It calls out things like, understanding people, caring about the quality of your work, being resilient etc.

 It was all scarily accurate, and my family and friends agreed as well. I think we all have an idea of what we are good at and not so good at, but to have it in front of you on a piece of paper is a surreal thing. I found it really helpful though because it means that you can recognise that you aren’t so strong at something before you go into a situation, and try to work on it.  

The second part of the prize was a performance coaching session with Planet K2, I had heard that K2 used sporting analogies to give performance advice, so wasn’t sure what to expect, and wasn’t sure what the Olympics or Usain Bolt would have to do with work… but it can be very useful!

Jim at K2 took me through some really interesting concepts, he was telling me that you should approach performance in the same way you would if you were an elite athlete…I couldn’t be further from being an Olympian but I gave the concept a go. He was telling me that you should think about: 1) how you picture success (do you want to win gold, silver or bronze?)- do you want to really push yourself and exceed all expectations and ‘win a gold’ or would you be happy with a bronze? 2) What are the playing conditions like? (what are the external factors impacting you at work, do you have people to help you, what are the time constraints? and 3) is there anything else you need in order meet that picture of success? (e.g do you need more resources?).

He also taught me that performance is made up a combination of a number of factors: technical (your knowledge and skills), tactical (your ‘tactics’- when you are completing the task, how you decide to go about it etc), physical (your physical wellbeing), mental (your mental wellbeing), emotional (emotional wellbeing and support from others) & contextual (the context you are working in). All of these things make up performance, and some are more important to different people, but you need them all to be able to perform your best. For some people, that means that you need to go for a run to start your day (physical) or have a fat Friday breakfast to set you up for the last day of the week!

All in all, both were really interesting sessions, and taught me new ways to approach work, to build on my strengths, work on my weaknesses and think a little bit more like Bolt.

Here's what Jim had to say about the session with Vivienne

I met Vivienne just as she was finishing her second placement and about to move to her third, which included a change in location for her. We talked for an hour or more about the overall performance challenge she faced and how prepared and ready she felt. We took the challenge in its entirety, thinking about business challenges and practical personal challenges. We talked about all the things she had in place, and needed to do, to give her maximum confidence that she could be successful. Useful this simple, practical approach proved extremely successful in helping her plan how she needed to perform the following week, in the next 6 months and beyond…



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