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Career coaching ... what's in it for me?

Many people have asked me what to expect in career coaching and how the process might help them? I have used career coaching services a lot! My early working life was spent in talent management – where I found career coaching to be an invaluable part of the talent management “toolkit”, supporting our development centres and succession planning decisions. But career coaching also helped me, on a personal level, to re-think my own career options when my role became unfulfilling.

For me, career coaching was invaluable because it was collaborative process and facilitated joint decision making. It helped the organisation’s talent assess their own career situation and whether the career path being mapped out was right for them. More importantly though, career coaching was invaluable for those not seen as top talent; helping to manage their emotions, come to terms with disappointment and their place, or not, in the organisation’s future. Those were the most difficult conversations.

But outside of talent management, career coaching is invaluable for those of us who find we are just “stuck” – unable to move forward - either because our careers are unfulfilling or unmotivating or perhaps needing a transition to a different career path altogether. And this was where I found myself a few years ago – feeling stuck, unmotivated … and unhappy!

Career coaching helped me to re-assess my then job situation and my values in the context of the opportunities open to me for advancement. But there was a huge incongruence with what I needed in my career what I really needed to make me happy. A very common scenario was playing out - I had a young family and no flexibility to work around them! Career coaching helped me to re-assess my ideal role in the context of my values and the importance of flexibility to me to make me happy. Needless to say I didn’t accept any of those career opportunities!

What can I expect?

Put simply career coaching can help you re-assess your current role, the opportunities to advance in your existing role or help to make that career transition to a more fulfilling role based on what you really want, your values, strengths and knowledge. Career coaching is a “helping relationship”, (Killburg, 2015) between you and the career coach, who will use a wide variety of behavioural and psychometric tools and techniques so you can mutually identify your goals and action plan. Career coaching is a journey and the coach will pivot across 5 defined roles, (Knowdell, 2012), helping and responding to your needs.

•      Assessor – identifying your strengths through assessment and providing feedback

•      Informer – helping to identify options and build confidence

•      Referrer – providing expertise but setting clear boundaries

•      Guide – facilitating your decision-making process

•      Tutor – supporting goal setting and action planning

It goes without saying that if your current career is making you unhappy then take a step forward to make a change. When you are stuck it can be difficult to take a step back and assess the situation from a neutral perspective. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

·      What makes you truly happy?

·      What are the issues that could impact your work life?

·      What are the negative thoughts, behaviours, obstacles that are holding you back?

·      What do you want from your job apart from money?

·      What % of the time do you feel positive at work?

·      What do you enjoy the most in your current job?

·      What do you wish you could do in your current job that you don’t do already?

·      What do you do when you aren’t at work?

·      What career did you want when you were young? Is it what you have now?

·      If you were old and are looking back on your life what job would you like to see yourself doing?

If your answers are mostly positive then perhaps you don’t need a career change but maybe a new job or change of company.

If your answers are mostly negative then perhaps a career change is an option. But do so advisedly – make sure it really is work that’s making you unhappy. Changing career is a big decision so really make time to look at all your options, identify what’s holding you back, what’s making you unhappy and start to make small baby steps to change.

Is it for me?

Ultimately the decision is yours. But as Ellen Miller points out career coaching helps people gain hope for the future and people that are hopeful are more motivated and that makes for higher performance.

Can career coaching really support that change? Try it and find out for yourself! You have everything to gain.


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