About 10 years ago, my career took a dive. I was gainfully employed, but I had been reorganized into a position that I did not want nor ask for. I was grateful to have a job, but unhappy with the role I filled. I also made that known ... apparently.
One of my peers told me I was not making friends and certainly not helping my career by “advertising” my displeasure with my new role. I thought he was horrible for saying that to me, but as it turns out, he was right. (I hate it when that happens.)
One night while perusing an industry magazine, I came across an article on professional coaching—and not the kind that you see on Monday Night Football. I was curious so I did some online digging. I found a good deal of information on the practice and some suggestions for finding and researching trained professional coaches.
Long story short, I decided to call a few coaches and give the idea a bit more air. I am glad I did. I found a well-trained and certified coach. Michelle and I met once a week, three times a month for six months. She helped me understand what I was doing wrong and helped me to gain traction toward a better career path ... one of my choosing and one that matched both my talents as well as my passions.
I was so impressed with the pace of my results that I decided to enroll in a coaching program. I had no intention of becoming a professional coach or even in seeking a coaching certification. I was amazed with the transformative power of coaching and I wanted the training and skillset so that I could use coaching strategies with my employees.
I have always had a passion for continuous learning and leadership development. Those passions evolved more and more into forming professional development strategies and creating employee development programs throughout my professional career. I created international employee development programs for one of the largest IT companies on the planet. Through data analysis and employee feedback, we found that all of the programs were valuable, but the program that saw the greatest impact was the coaching program.
I started coaching individuals as a manager while still in coaching training. I began coaching professionally a few years back. And, I am still amazed by the transformative outcomes of the coaching process.
What is Coaching?
When I am asked what it is I do, I share that I am an executive career coach. This is usually met with one of those head-tilting glances that is the universal language for ... “huh?”
I then explain that coaching is a way of helping individuals achieve greater performance and satisfaction in their personal and professional lives. Coaches help you attain better results.
Why Would I Want to Work with a Coach?
The next question is generally about why someone would work with a coach.
Coaching is about articulating your goals and mapping out a plan to achieve those goals – no matter how high they may be. I explain that a coach helps clients uncover what they really want and strategize on how to get there. A coach is there for support along the path but also someone to hold you accountable.
Having a coach is much like having a fitness buddy. If you know your buddy is going to be waiting for you at the gym, you are more likely to get your butt out of bed in the morning and get to the gym.
Coaching can help you to:
Learn new skills
Make better decisions
Focus on what you really want and enjoy
Aim higher and achieve more
Take more control
What Can I Expect from a Coach?
The next question is generally about the coaching environment. In a time when confidentiality is a hard thing to find, an environment that is requires trust and support must contain confidentiality.
I explain that clients should expect total confidentiality and a safe, nonjudgmental environment in which they can express themselves completely. Coaching is about the client, so clients should expect their coach to listen more than talk. Coaching is also built on honesty and clients should expect honest and direct responses from their coach, while he or she is also supportive and encouraging.
What Would I Talk About?
As I stated earlier, coaching is about the client. Unlike mentoring which is more about how the mentor achieved something and a mentee can emulate their success; or consulting, which is telling someone how something should be done; coaching is unique in that what the client deems best for himself or herself IS what is best. And, what is best for the client is what is talked about during coaching sessions.
Some of the topics clients may wish to focus on include a:
New position they just landed and the plan they want in place to make a quick impact
Career transition they want or need to make
Performance area they wish to make improvements on
Long-range career goal
Business planning strategy or goal setting
Personal transformation or transition
Plan to get unstuck in their current employment situation
How Do I Find a Coach?
If you are a college or graduate student, your college may have a career center that provides coaching services at little or no cost to you. Likewise, if you are a graduate, your school may provide coaching services as part of alumni outreach.
Additionally, if you are an employee of a larger company, your organization may provide coaching services through an internal coaching network. Your human resource manager or company intranet could you direct you to a contact resource.
If you do not have any of these options or wish to employ the services of an external coach, you can begin by researching your options on a couple of trusted websites including the International Coach Federation and the Global Guild of Certified Coaches.
Coaching is a tremendous personal development opportunity. If you are at all curious about the process or want to discover if it may be a good fit for you, I highly encourage you to spend some time exploring the option.