Career coaching sits within the executive and organisational coaching space, as an effective tool for individuals; leaders and organisations who want to develop careers, build teams or manage inevitable change. Let’s look at some popular FAQs?
What is career coaching?
It could be finding the right career, or the right job to move along your chosen career path; exploring ‘what next?’ when something changes; moving beyond frustrations – to build skillset, grow competencies or find the right training / experience for leadership / promotion; learning about yourself, your values / passions / aspirations in pursuit of best options / next steps or ‘ultimate career’. It can help discover or restore balance across professional/personal lives. Career coaching can deliver confidence, insight, encouragement and inspiration.
For leaders and organisations the case for career coaching is simply that it enables your people to be the best.
How does it work?
It is solution-oriented, so coach and client work in partnership to work towards a vision, strategy or plan of actions to deliver the client’s objectives.
Coaching is anchored in a high-trust, high-rapport relationship where ‘safety to express anything’ and ‘challenge to think or feel differently’ are in play.
And it considers what’s in the way – including feelings/emotions and beliefs/values + exploring habits that might be slowing career aspirations.
What’s the process?
Smart change initiatives include coaching as a tool because it’s proven to enhance the effectiveness of change initiatives, and because it appears so frequently on the ‘menu’ of highly successful organisations and teams.
Explore the joint report Human Capital Institute and ICF here – https://coachfederation.org/resear ch/building-a-coaching-culture
It’s important to know that it is a process! If the client is simply seeking a ‘better cv’ it’s unlikely a professional coach is the right option!
Some coaches will offer referrals to professionals who advise on technical templates.
The process begins with partnering the client in assessing their career ideas and options with curiosity, compassion, and honesty – working to uncover authentic passions, aptitudes and preferences. And to understand the systems which they work within or wish to succeed in. Uncovering their thinking, their vision and then stepping into effective action happens across a series of meetings/conversations. Each person brings their unique needs, experiences and aspirations to the coaching table. Career coaching might be offered across 3 to 12 sessions, for a few weeks or for several months.
Professional coaching will include a contract which makes clear the role of coach and of the client AND clarifies any sponsorship or other organisational accountabilities. In best case scenarios the coachee/client will have choice around which coach to work with.
++ Some coaches also offer assessment tools which support individuals and organisations in better understanding their own aptitudes, preferences and competencies.
Who buys career coaching?
Individuals ready for a change – born of frustration or ambition or curiosity.
People dealing with life changes – such as relocation, family changes; or world changes, shrinking economies, growing economies, technological or political changes; or organisations with talent development programmes; emerging leaders; or organisations, departments or leaders managing change, including expansion or restructuring which includes changing job parameters or redundancies.
When is it useful?
In all the cases above! Plus post-education for career-planning. And for exploring meaning, identity, purpose and balance.
Cases of effective career coaching from my own practice
Case A: In the Beginning / a woman wants to be promoted in the organisation but her boss is considering ‘managing her out’. The coaching partnership enquired into her vision – and populated her understanding of what it would take to succeed – from her perspective and from the perspectives of her colleagues/leaders/customers.
She built a sound, evidence-based understanding of what was working well and what needed to change so she would be seen as effective. She recognised that she had work to do in making a lasting, positive impression on her leader. As her understanding of the impacts of her choices grew; and her knowledge of the ‘cultural’ requirements of the leader were established – her confidence in her competencies and skills also grew. After three months of coaching/ she is up for promotion, and has a ‘personal brand’ of commitment, flexibility and innovation.
Case B: In the beginning / a senior executive with a high-status role in professional-practice is looking at a CE offer from private industry which will move him and his family geographically; creating a very different future.
The coaching partnership explores: his values, his vision, the pros and cons of the two scenarios; his fear in each scenario and his hopes/aspirations for himself/his family.
He also looked at his skillset; considered his ‘comfort-zone’ and how he might choose to change in response to new demands.
He considered his age / status / career / life-stage and explored his original youthful thoughts and ambitions – + things which satisfied/dissatisfied him in the present role.
After three coaching sessions he chose the CE role, with a strong sense of what he is doing it for, and of what his vision for success is both at work and at home.
How to choose a coach?
It’s personal – each of us needs a coach who we’re happy to work with; with whom we can build trust and rapport; who we can give permission to be challenging at times, curious at times, and who has empathy for us as well as awareness which supports them in finding just the right question, or offering just the right amount of silence for reflection, as we need.
A checklist for choosing any professional includes:
✓ Well trained + credentialled as a professional
✓ With satisfied clients who can provide testimonials
✓ Recommended by someone you trust and/or endorsed by an organisation you trust
✓ Someone you get along with – who delivers a sense of respectful partnership in every transaction
Belonging to a trusted organisation such as the International Coach Federation lets customers and clients know that you uphold high ethical and professional practice standards.
ICF delivers on the training, credentialing and trusted source elements – leaving you to make your own case with testimonials and your authentic branding around your career coaching offer.
Mary Britton PCC
Mary trains professional coaches and leaders to excellence all over the world. She holds a PCC credential with ICF; is a professional mentor and a member of EMCC, and a professional coach supervisor and member of ACS. Mary finds her balance through music and community roles – currently Trustee of TLC – a project restoring kiwi habitat in New Zealand – and Te Puna O Te Ao Marama – building te reo Māori capability in Northland. She is Head of the Coaching Excellence Pillar for ICF Australasia.
Mary is currently following up co-design of a medical and health coach training programme in the UK with research into how to make the most difference in health provision in New Zealand and Australia. [email protected]
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