Career Coaching: A View from the Inside
Copyright © 2006 Rosanne Scriffignano, SPHR
Coaching is full of surprises. You never know where your client’s focus will take you. Your conversations can range from career planning and goal setting to time management and work/life balance.
Imagine that you are the coach in the following scenario:
Coach: “What would you like to focus on today?”
Client: “I’d like to spend less time on e-mail and activities that aren’t related to my job. I keep missing deadlines because of constant interruptions.”
Coach: “How much time do you spend on these activities?”
Client: “All day. I can’t seem to get anything done.”
Coach: “In an ideal world, how would you like to spend your day?”
Client: “In an ideal world? Hmmm. I wouldn’t be in this job. [long pause] I think what I really want is a new career.”
Now, imagine that you’re an internal coach. How do you respond to this client? Do you:
- Ignore her last comment because her department is paying for her coaching sessions?
- Re-focus the conversation back to e-mail and interruptions?
- Encourage the exploration of a new career?
Because coaches bring their own unique style and experiences to the coaching conversation, there are many possible approaches to the above scenario. The key question is this. Is your approach colored by the fact that you’re an internal coach? Hopefully, it is not. All coaches, whether internal or external, should stay keenly focused on the client’s truth. Although politics exist in all organizations, it should not dictate your coach approach.
Benefits Of Career Coaching
Career management is a critical part of internal coaching. Often employees experience issues (such as lack of focus or missed deadlines) because, deep down, they know that they’re in the wrong job or perhaps even in the wrong career. Coaching can help them to work through their fears and consider all available career options. An effective coaching relationship can also boost their confidence and enhance their goal-setting skills.
In the above fictional coaching session, the client first reveals symptoms of not meeting deadlines and over-focusing on e-mail. Through the “magic” of effective coaching, she considers her current situation and then shares her yearning to pursue a new career.
In real life, it can take several sessions before your clients will divulge their desires to change careers, seek promotions, or plan for retirement. Once the truth is laid out like the red carpet at a movie premiere, you can’t step around it. Instead, you must stay on that path and help your clients to explore their hopes and dreams.
Albert Einstein understood the power of questioning: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” By asking open-ended and laser questions, you can stimulate a client’s thinking and put focus on new possibilities.
For example, in our fictional scenario, the coach could have asked “Why can’t you get anything done?” This question would have moved the coaching conversation into a totally different direction. By asking the question (“In an ideal world, how would you like to spend your day?”), the coach gave the client permission to see herself wherever she wanted to be. In this case, her ideal work day translated into a completely different career.
The formula for successful career coaching is simple: an honest client who is willing to take risks and a compassionate coach who holds firm the client’s truth. As the coach, your role is to partner with your clients as they find their passion and follow their dreams.
Rosanne Scriffignano has over 20 years of corporate experience in the financial, communications, and employer services industries. As an internal coach at ADP, she partners with executives on a variety of issues, including leadership vision, influence, and strategic planning. Rosanne is a graduate of Corporate Coach U and ADP’s award-winning Internal Coach Certification program. She currently serves on the ADP Internal Coach Advisory Board.
Rosanne has taught graduate courses as an Adjunct Professor at Seton Hall University and currently serves as a volunteer career mentor for graduate students. Her professional affiliations include the International Coach Federation, CoachVille, New Jersey Professional Coaches Association, and Society for Human Resource Management. She has been published in various venues and is the recipient of several international writing awards. She holds an MA in Corporate and Public Communication from Seton Hall University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership.