Original insights in international business and marketing
The last decade has seen the emergence of a relatively new and growing profession, namely the personal or career coach. The range and quality of services they provide as well as what you take out of the relationship will vary widely from coach to coach. What they all offer, however, is an exceptional opportunity for introspection as a trained guide accompanies you along your journey to becoming more effective at what you do.
For people unfamiliar with this popular professional service industry, there may be the perception that a career coach is only for people who have issues or who need some “help.” Perhaps they see being coached as an admission that something is broken and needs fixing. They couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you have an opportunity to work with a professional career coach (maybe your company will pay most or all of the fees), don’t delay, seize the opportunity. In this day and age of declining management standards and where mentoring is a fast disappearing art within the corporation, the opportunity to regularly engage with a highly qualified outside professional is not to be missed. Coaches provide a valuable and unbiased perspective to you and the situations you are facing. At the most basic level, they provide an outlet for you to air your feelings, concerns and frustrations. Beyond that they can give you the tools and encouragement to tackle some of the personal and professional obstacles in your way. A good coach understands you as a person and your situation. They do not judge and they are always on your side. They can help you bridge the gap between the manager you are today and the person others may see you as. They can help you spot sticky situations and give you the skills to extricate yourself from them. On a plus side, what you learn and the confidence you develop can spill-over into your personal life. Many families have benefitted from career coaching skills being put into practice both inside and outside of work.
No, they are not shrinks, counselors, or psychologists (although many can have a clinical background). Above all, they are advisors, sounding boards or highly experienced business professionals in their own right who enjoy helping others achieve their full potential. I’ve had a chance to work with an outstanding coach (shout out to Nancy Haller in San Diego) who helped me navigate through a particularly challenging period in my career. Her coaching and advice were supported by a full 360 degree assessment I had recently undergone. She was therefore able to more fully understand my personality and behavior traits which made for highly focused, productive and insightful sessions. We keep in touch to this day.
Trust me, it’s time well spent but you need to do your research upfront. Try to pick a coach with a background and experience you can relate to. Maybe you are looking for someone with an international background or someone with entrepreneurial experience. They are out there and you just need to find them. Also, don’t be afraid to interview your coaches before signing up. The most important ingredients in a coach-coachee relationship are trust and rapport. If you find you are not clicking after a few sessions say so and move on to someone else.
Finally there are the cost considerations. Coaching sessions are not cheap (ranging up to several hundred dollars/euros per hour) but they can provide exceptional value. Maybe your employer will pay for these meetings maybe they won’t. Even so, taking as few as 5 sessions may be a small investment out of your own pocket (think of it as a gift to yourself) and may be all that you need to get the personal and professional boost you are looking for. Go ahead, give it a try and let me know how it works for you.
photo credit: Nick Chill Photography at Photopin