Navigating Career Transitions Together During COVID-19

The Pandemic has been challenging on all levels of business, career, family, couple, and work relationships. I wrote this article before the pandemic hit, and hit our business lives, career trajectory, and pocketbooks. Work from home (WFH) is now highly endorsed by many, yet not possible depending on the industry and family needs.

Business owners, dual-career couples, and couples in business together are spinning with demands. So reading this, your perspective on transitions you had planned before may be enlarged to include not only transitioning out of a company or high-level job down the road—but maybe a shift or major reroute altogether.

Some of you are leaving your company and taking a new position. Or your mate is. Or maybe you need to have further discussions about going into business together. Or one of you wants to go back to school to be retooled. Retirement or slowing down may be pushed down the road.

Either due to economics, recent life experience or just the facts and changes brought about internally or externally, the concept of “transition” may now need to become “revision” or “re-imagine.” And you need to do it together. Because you impact one another. Like a mobile one parts shift and they all shift.

Psychologically we’re called on to change. To be created in our responses. Not immediately in some circumstances, but that’s the ultimate outcome we need to open to. So those that use imagination, who “imagine” and “re-imagine” will come through this birthing canal with the most vigor. I wish you health and vigor. May you thrive.

Best Practice in Business and Career Development Remains

I know you are well aware of the need for all professionals to increase and refine communication skills in the workplace. Proof comes across your desk every day in research and articles. Evidence is seen in the functioning of your business partners or team. These pieces highlight how increased self-awareness, interpersonal and communication tools, and skills are necessary to grow a business and to succeed in your career.

Hopefully, you are in a company, or you are the owner of a company, that provides both training and communication coaching as a regular part of your work-life, and that it’s an expected part of company culture. When this is not happening in your workplace—no matter your seniority—it behooves you to get these skills on your own. Growth mindset, continuous learning incorporating high-level skills with greater empathy are highlighted now.

Whether you’re in a position of authority and responsibility for leading action and change for employees in your company, or you’re an employee facing a transition if your current position or a transition away from one business to another, these two additional reads may be helpful to you.

In an oversimplified nutshell, that’s what is necessary in these challenging times.

So How Do You Dovetail Work Needs and Conversations at Home?

Couples converse about career transitions

Couples converse about career transitions.

What is not discussed, is how you dovetail and coordinate communications about your needs at the office with your needs at home. When this functions skillfully and smoothly, you feel aligned and can be yourself both here and there. When it’s avoided or not integrated, you often feel isolated, pulled in opposing directions, leaving you unable to be fully present or engaged anywhere.

It’s Complicated, But Not Impossible

So we are talking about smoothly interlocking career and personal life, but also smoothly coordinating you and your mate, considering where you are now and what you might want for your next phase. Now that’s complex! It requires awareness and willingness to see what you can create together.

From my decade’s long executive coaching, and business and career transition coaching with owners, career couples, and people at different stages of career transition, it’s clear that in many homes there’s not enough communication happening when it comes to major life desires and decisions. This gets people into trouble.

People frequently assume they have communicated or communicated enough. Especially if they’ve been married or together for a while. People sometimes feel or assume…

  • If they’ve said it once, maybe twice, their mate will know where they stand.
  • They talked about these things years ago, and assume there has been no change.
  • One person is always in the lead, and the other will simply follow.
  • They’ve been together so long, they feel their mate should just know.

From this flawed—but very commonplace—thinking flows a great many assumptions that couples do not always face head-on. And this happens in the best, the most solid relationships.

A Shift in Perspective

A unique choice is to apply the same rigorous standards of communication, sharing, discussion, and decision-making to your personal life, that is applied in “best practice business.” Not only because things will go more smoothly, but because it makes you feel more connected, it’s more interesting, and often it’s more fun.

And in this extremely complex world of business growth, entrepreneurship, and dual careers, juggling family and demanding work, communicating thoroughly about both of your needs, both of your wants, and exploring both of your ideas about the next stage of your life together is crucial—for your satisfaction, and for the longevity of your relationship.

Raising a discussion of both your needs for the next stage of your life may also raise differences or difficulties in the short-term. Many people are conflict-avoidant and want to shove the difficult aspects of transitions quickly under-the-rug. Where chances are, you’ll trip on them later!

To avoid such a stumble—one that can inadvertently detour or derail you, resulting in a future of consequences you may not want—two things are important to do:

  1. Take Ownership for Communicating

It’s important to take ownership for being the person at the center. YOU ARE the intermediary between your business/career and your mate/family/personal life. It may mean you have to take responsibility to start the conversation if it’s not happening. Don’t wimp out. This is your future; this is your mate’s future. You want it to be a great next future together.

This is true whether you are an entrepreneurial couple (co-preneurs,) dual careerists, or you’re the owner of a big business with a mate running the home.

  1. Empower Yourself with Tools and Skills

Just like there’s a need for continuous learning on the work front, communication is a continuous learning at home as well. No matter how young or how mature you are. You don’t have to know it all or be perfect. What’s important is to empower yourself with the tools and skills to have these conversations at home and to learn how to make mutually satisfying decisions together. Or to have guidance from a coach who can walk you through the process.

This is just as true if you are falling in love and contemplating marriage, or planning a first child, or if you are wanting to sell or pass on your business and transition into other endeavors. And every stage in between.

All Your Relationships Will Benefit

Career conversations with family

Career conversations with your family make everything go more smoothly.

The Benefits in Your Home Life

In my experience, when couples approach transitions together, they learn to turn what may appear daunting into experimenting and exploring as they create the next stage in their life. The experimenting and exploring become invigorating, brings couples together, and results in having more fun! This is especially seen in couples anticipating empty nest, business, or career wind-down and somewhat fearful they may have nothing in common anymore.

When you own responsibility and empower yourself to communicate skillfully, to involve your mate equally in the conversation, to experiment and explore, transitions at each life stage become more integrated, thoughtfully planned, and thoughtfully carried out. So the impact is definitely beneficial at home.

And It’s Beneficial to the Business Bottom Line

Plus the financial benefits to companies and the business bottom line in terms of savings are enormous. The outcome is the greater success of everyone in the company and contentment on the home front which supports performance and longevity at work.

While typically unacknowledged as a vital part of company culture and career values, encouraging a holistic approach that helps owners and employees actively support a thorough discussion of growth and next stage transition culminates in huge savings; savings from fewer divorces that wreak havoc not only on families but also on companies, careers, and pocketbooks. Such cultural values support retention of good employees, smoother transitions of businesses and generations, as well as happier more productive employees—including the owner!

Additional Business, Career & Relationship Resources

For more on this topic read my articles:

For more resources and guidance on business, career, and relationship strategies designed to move you and your life further, faster, request your free Discovery Call with Dr. Jan Hoistad today.

Dr. Jan Hoistad