Navigating the new normal

  • Lorene Phillips (Photograph supplied)

    Lorene Phillips (Photograph supplied)

  • Lorene Phillips holds a training session for a corporate client (Photograph supplied)

    Lorene Phillips holds a training session for a corporate client (Photograph supplied)


Tips from Lorene

Some tips from Lorene Phillips to prepare for your next virtual meeting:

Start with your normal pre-remote working morning grooming routine

Make sure your hair, face and oral hygiene are all well taken care of.

Select appropriate clothing the night before

Dressing for work gives a sense of normalcy. For women, be mindful of any plunging neckline; accessorise tastefully, not distractingly. Men, ensure that your shirt is clean and well ironed. Everything will be magnified on screen.

Apply an appropriate amount of make-up

Ensure that your make-up is applied with attention and not too heavy. Now that you are home, you can make some extra time to maybe improve your night-time skin care routine to include more moisturising face masks.

Covid-19 threw the world a curveball, sending most of us home to work and making video communication commonplace.

Globally, it is unchartered territory and Lorene Phillips is helping people navigate it. An underwriter for 25 years, she provides executive and personal coaching services through her firm Clarendon Wallace and recently launched online etiquette classes for children and adults to develop “personal, social and cognitive skills”.

Q: Why do videos make people nervous?

A: We are more accentuated. Our behaviours are more picked up, people pay particular attention ... we need to be so much more mindful around how we’re showing up. We have to make sure that we continue to maintain our professionalism and the kind of brand that we’ve worked so hard to harness, and not drop our standards. There is certainly an environment of empathy and understanding — if you hear the dog bark or a door slam, no one is going to penalise you for that — but in terms of how you show up, your preparedness, your time-management skills and your ability to collaborate ... all that is going to be needed now more than ever.

Q: If you don’t have a home office, what’s the best place for a video call?

A: It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s just really positioning your laptop or computer in a space where the background is as plain as possible. Some of my clients face their camera to the window, with the screen closed or with the curtains pulled. Good lighting also helps, so that you’re picked up nicely on the camera instead of having a shadow over you. One of the biggest tips is to make sure you log on at least five minutes before a call. It allows you to see anything that needs fixing — maybe you need to adjust the camera, adjust your clothing. Make sure everything is all together so that when the call begins you are ready to go.

Q: How did you become a coach?

A: I have been an underwriter [in the re\insurance industry] for just over 25 years. I moved to London with my family about 5˝ years ago to develop a book of business in Lloyd’s of London. I’ve always been interested in coaching and developing others and because of my position and my access to individuals, people were always asking me questions.

Q: When did you officially begin coaching?

A: A few years ago I became an executive coach and a personal coach. When I returned home about six months ago, I decided that I was going to jump in with both feet. It was a very, very big step, but I knew this was the right time to do it to help individuals — males and females — to navigate their professional and personal lives. I also did a course at the British School of Etiquette, helping individuals to develop what we call “soft skills” and I am trained in providing etiquette training for everyone, for children aged five through to adults. I have just launched an online etiquette offering to provide support during these challenging times to parents, children and individuals so they now have access to strategically develop their social and emotional intelligence so they can thrive personally and professionally.

Q: What type of person seeks you out as a coach?

A: My clients are generally high performers, in high-stress environments. That’s the environment that I’ve worked in my entire career, so I have a particular bench towards individuals like that. But I do a lot of work as well with high schools. I’ve done some work with Saltus students, BHS students as well, helping them to set goals, helping them to achieve goals, etc.

Q: Why would kids need your help?

A: What I love about coaching, unlike counselling or other kinds of practices, is that it’s very empowering. Instead of you giving them advice, you’re asking them a series of powerful questions. You’re helping them come up with their own solution. And what’s fantastic about that is that there’s buy-in. They are more likely to achieve goals that they have set than if I gave them advice. I helps them to understand how to manage their time and how to create a life of balance and also how to become crystal clear around what their goals are.

Q: What’s your coaching style?

A: I bring myself and my experience into the room. I am not a traditional trainer who just trains anecdotally or theoretically. If I’m offering or delivering my services, they’re things that I have experienced and I really bring that into the room and it adds a lot of credibility and a lot of relevance for individuals. So many times I’ve sat in training sessions and I’m thinking at the back of my mind, ‘This person has no idea what I’m going through. They have no idea what it’s like to juggle.’ I raised my three kids with my husband. We didn’t have a nanny or anything, so we did the whole thing: the dropping off, the picking up, splitting sick days and then showing up to that client meeting and having to execute every single time. That’s not easy.

Q: But with high performers, surely they don’t need assistance?

A: They’re like the swan effect: absolutely graceful at the top and then, at the bottom, their legs are just kicking, kicking, kicking. You’re susceptible to things like burnout, you’re susceptible to managing stress, juggling your work and your life. As a high performer, you’re expected to perform at a high level all the time and that’s not always comfortable. So having a coach is really having someone that can be your ally, that can help you to create a safe space where you can be vulnerable, where you can share those things that you are struggling with and together we work to really help you to address that.

Q: How has the lockdown impacted people like that?

A: A lot of my clients are expected to not just deliver the same quality of work, but also they’re juggling family and sometimes cramped quarters as well and navigating that is easier said than done. So the first few sessions were around helping them create a demarcation between work and home, even though they’re physically together. Some have younger kids so [it was also] helping them to develop some structure. I would say probably the first session was unloading what this Covid-19 environment means for each one of them — and it varies from individual to individual — and really just supporting them. Now we’re three weeks into it, most of my clients have created a new normal.

To learn more about Lorene Phillips’s coaching, visit her website, clarendonwallace.com or look for Clarendon Wallace on Facebook and clarendon_wallace on Instagram

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Published Apr 17, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 17, 2020 at 7:33 am)

Navigating the new normal

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