Career Development – Coaching

The dust has settled on the New Year, a time when many of us indulge in a spot of navel gazing and take stock of our careers and life in general. Perhaps you aspire to progressing further in your career?  Perhaps you want to become better in a particular area of work? May be you are looking to readdress your work/life balance.  But although many of us conclude we need to do something differently or make a change, when our daily routines kick back in, it’s often difficult to invest time to bring about the changes we want.

As a way to develop new skills, behaviours and practices, coaching, offers a means of building effective self-development into busy daily routines. It can be done at a time and location convenient to them and as a result its effectiveness rates tend to be very good.  So if you are in search of a helping hand and think coaching could be the answer to your ambitions, where should you begin?

First things first

Consider what exactly you want to achieve through coaching.

The clearer you can be the easier finding the right coach for you will be. Your aim or ambition will point towards a particular type of coaching. If your goals are more personal, for example career or social-related you might need a life or behaviour coach. If you need to improve an area of your work then a form of business coaching is more likely to hold the answers.  It can help you manage change or personal challenges and will enable you to be more successful and effective in your work Business coaching can build your confidence and self-awareness and increase your motivation.

What’s involved?

Coaching approach varies according to coach, coachee (you) and the overall goals for the programme. Generally, it takes place through conversation – face to face, on the phone or even by email. This, however, is different from social conversation. It is dynamic and focuses on what you need to achieve. Sometimes a more directive approach is appropriate with your coach sharing specific expertise or knowledge. In other instances, a more collaborative approach is better with the coach helping you to find answers through reflection and increased self-awareness.

Whatever the format, it should be action-driven with specific objectives, ideally with you completing tasks and trying out particular skills and capabilities along the way. This will help you improve those areas necessary for the achievement of your objectives. Pinpointing specific goals or results you need to achieve (and by when) will help you both focus the time and energy to best use. These outcomes will also help you and your firm review the coaching programme’s overall progress and assess its success.

What to look for in a coach

Your coach should be there to motivate and inspire you. They will need to ask searching questions, challenge and help you achieve your potential. A good business coach is often a problem solver, a teacher or even an expert. They are someone to talk to about work problems and challenges and they are certainly someone who is not going to interrupt you, make judgements or criticise.  When you meet them, consider:

  • How well they listen to you
  • How well they grasp and summarise what you have to say
  • Whether they try and steer the session round to their goals
  • Whether they are able to give greater clarity to what you are trying to achieve
  • Whether they are able to benefit and add value to you
  • Whether they leave you with a positive buzz or a disappointed ache

The best coaches are committed to delivering results and have a genuine interest in their coachee’s goals. They are adaptable in their style and provide the right balance of directive or collaborative input for each situation. They are sensitive to the highly confidential nature of their work and have the credibility to challenge effectively. They should be able to break down what might seem like an overwhelming goal into manageable bite-size chunks and help you achieve results more quickly than other forms of personal development.

How to find one?

It’s not always easy finding the right coach as there are so many on the market.  Recommendations count a lot here and so consult your colleagues, friends and your firm’s HR department as to possible coaches. Consider coaches who are specialists in the QS world or in behaviours and skills you are trying to adopt. Try and meet a number of recommended individuals before making your decision. It is very important to invest time to find the coach you best ‘click’ and are comfortable with.


New Year is a great time to commit to making a change.  Hopefully the festive break has recharged your batteries and you have had a chance to step back and consider different aspects of your life. Don’t let all that positive energy and ideas slip away as the January workload kicks in. Make a commitment to your goals and ambitions but consider a helping hand in getting you to your destination. Consider a coach and resolve to achieving your plans by this time next year. Have a great 2008.