Career Coach? Why do I need a career coach?

You should have a career coach, both for your career and for your company

As you progress in your career, you will need to plan and strategize how you can grow with someone you can trust. What are the key learning experiences that you need to realized your dream career? Who are the people who can help you on the way?  What is the importance of being at your peak performance in moving up in  your career?  A trained career coach will help you grow your leadership and your career.  Your career coach will work with you to look at your future career path, work with you on your strengths and areas of development and coach you on your short and long term job moves.

Three reasons why you should have a career coach

Here are some of the many benefits you can get from your career coach.

  • A career coach is masterful in the art of inquiry.  He will listen intently and hold up the mirror to reflect back your challenges, thoughts and ideas. Your coach will listen attentively and objectively. He will ask you deeper questions on matters involving your career that you haven’t considered. Sad but true, people need extra training on how to listen. Coaches have that training. Therapists have that training. Coworkers, spouses and friends…probably do not.
  • A career coach is a confidant.  You get a supportive and trusting professional relationship focused on your career goals. You share your concerns confidentially with your career coach. You work together and create a strong bond. You may explore different options and avenues that you didn’t know existed. A career coach will create a secrecy pact with you. Career coaches are bound to keep your conversations confidential. You can be open and honest with your coach. Your thoughts and feelings will remain private. Can you say the same about secrets you tell your friends, neighbors and coworkers? Is your career advancement worth a conversation with a career coach?
  • A career coach will challenge you to think outside your boundaries or free you of your limiting thoughts. The coach may push you out of your comfort zone to explore areas where you haven’t ventured. You can expand your thinking about where you are taking your career. Friends, neighbors and coworkers will tell you, “You have a nice car, a nice house and nice clothes. You have made it.” A career coach will challenge you to evaluate your career and be clear on your long term vision. You will set higher expectations and enjoy the rewards.
Career Coach Liza Sichon

How can I help your career today?

I have a new client, Daphne. She thought she would remain a middle manager forever. “That’s just how it is with women in the workplace,” she told me. “We have a glass ceiling. Career growth is not as promising as it is for men. Also, I am already 48. I cannot advance.” Her employer knew she had potential and brought in a career coach for her. I am helping her overcome those self-limiting beliefs.

In just a few months, she has reevaluated her career. She sees more senior level opportunities. She is asking what she needs to do before she can become a serious candidate for a VP role. She no longer thinks only men can advance. Daphne believes the sky is the limit.

Why would your company hire a career coach for their high potentials?

Suppose you are CEO for a growing company. You know that your people are your most important asset. A Board member says you need a succession plan and develop your super stars. You need to retain your high potentials.  Your Board wants you to double your size. They feel you already have the talent in-house. What do you do?

You guessed it…bring in a career coach. Your coach will work with you and your high potentials to find out what your true needs are. My niche is working with high potentials on their next moves. Companies also hire me to work with their senior leaders, VP and above.

Using proven assessment methods, I can help identify your brightest stars and make them shine. I can also help your brightest stars fast track their career growth. When this happens, they will feel challenged and motivated to overachieve their goals.

Career coaches are asked to work with companies for a variety of reasons:

  • Future growth – to enable your high potentials to grow their leadership and prepare them for larger responsibilities
  • Enhance current performance – to enable your leaders to perform their current job in the midst of change, expansion or new direction
  • Performance Improvement. Coaches are hired when someone is derailed. Their success formula has not worked and they need a coach to help them develop their new success formula.
  • Transition, in periods of change, downsizing or new agendas.  At times, your employees may  suddenly find themselves in the midst of transition. They have been outplaced, fired or have completely lost interest in their jobs. A career coach can help your employees make the most of your transition and create new opportunities for them.

These are some of the reasons why a company may invest in a career coach.

Bill is the CEO of a start up company. His Board directed him to double sales within three years, with his current leadership team. “My people are great. They are surely proficient at their jobs,” he tells me. “However, I sense they are content. How do I light a fire or move them out of their comfort zone without alienating them? How do I implement the changes I feel are necessary without having my best and brightest quit? I am most afraid I will fix something that is not broken. I am afraid if I do not accomplish what the Board wants, I will be fired.”

Bill went looking for a career coach. He hired me to achieve these goals and develop his leadership team. We used a 360 leadership assessment to understand their strengths individually and as a team. They each received feedback on their own results and together we debriefed the results of the team. As a group, we worked on leadership behaviors that promote a positive working environment. They also identified areas where they can improve. It was not easy at first, there was denial, rationalization and finding someone to blame. These reactions are normal. As soon as we got past these responses and they accepted that they needed to change, we started working on their plans. Over the past year and a half, Bill and his team evolved to be the leaders that they want to be.

Too many good people are quitting. Is this good or bad?

Is the career coach responsible for retaining my employees? Let’s suppose I hire a career coach to develop my senior staff. Within months, 3 of my staff members have resigned. What is the deal?

  • Wouldn’t the coach convince them to stay?
  • Will the coach come back to me and say there’s something wrong with me?
  • Will my coach help me deal with my attrition?

My answer is — it depends . What objectives have you set for the career coach? Sometimes leaders hire a career coach for their employee’s development. In that course of development, the employee then realizes that the current company is not the kind of environment where they can flourish. They make the decision to change employers.

As a career coach, I require that my clients take full responsibility for their decisions and actions. They are also responsible for providing periodic updates on their progress to their boss.

If employees have resigned, maybe the problem is not the people who left, maybe the problem is the boss. My client has a responsibility to be honest with their boss about their career goals and how to best achieve them. I also encourage my clients to be honest with their boss about how things can be improved in the workplace.

My social media manager was a corporate trainer in downtown Chicago. He trained 1600 students how to use their desktop computers. Then one day, he realized it was no longer satisfying. He confronted a big decision. His options were a) stay in corporate training, or b) look for other opportunities. He chose option b), get another job. There was nothing wrong with his employer. He respected his boss. He liked his coworkers. He just felt a big change was necessary.

As a career coach, I help people be true to themselves and encourage them to explore opportunities that are in line with their motivations, strengths and styles.

  • Motivations are what gets you excited to jump out of bed in the morning. When you are working on things that motivate you, you do not track the time, you are lost in your own world. Think of a time when you just really enjoyed what you were doing.
  • Your strengths are what you are naturally good at. There is no effort on your part when you are using your natural talents, you are in the flow.
  • Your style is how others perceive you, this is your personality as you show it to the world.

At times, your motivations, your strengths and your style are not always congruent with each other. If you are not motivated to do a certain kind of work, you may be drained or burn-out easily. If you are motivated but do not have the natural talents, it takes so much effort on your part to get the work done, you are using your acquired skills, not your natural skills. And if your personality or behaviors are not consistent with your strengths, you may not be receiving projects that you want to work on. It is important to know what your natural motivations, strengths and styles are so you are in the flow and completely enjoying the work that you do.

I use valid and reliable assessments to help clients find out what their motivations, natural talents and styles are. My clients tell me that this information has been invaluable to them as they made important decisions in their careers.

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Why Hire a coach?

Top Reasons Coaches are Engaged:

(HBR Jan 2009)

    • Develop high potentials or facilitate transition: 48%
    • Act as a sounding board: 26%
    • Address derailing behavior: 12%