Here are some interesting glimpses into client work. Career coaching, at its best, switches on the light of awareness, inspires motivation, and ignites learning and growth. Ultimately, the client moves forward to new levels of performance and impact. Career advancement is far more than an increase in the paycheck (though that is always welcome!) but it’s the great feeling that comes from increased efficacy and impact in one’s professional life—using and building on what’s really inside and being recognized and rewarded for it. Here are some notable glimpses:
- Reprocess any negative work experiences. Holding on to bad memories is never a good way to build a positive future, and it can be especially damaging in the career arena. A client came to see me ready and excited to return to full-time corporate work after part-time consulting when her children were young. But as we probed into her past, we noticed that many of her memories were of negative experiences; bad bosses, terrible work environments, and poor company decisions. Yes, the stories were true but unflattering to her, her managers, and the companies. She was not interview-ready! So the key is to delve into extracting positive takeaways and examine, process, and learn from one’s negative experiences. Employers are attracted to wise and mature individuals. And often, too, especially in Silicon Valley, many of us have been involved with start-up companies, brand new ventures with fantastically entrepreneurial, smart folks, but often immature company cultures and poor practices. That said, this client did the hard work of processing and reframing her work experiences more positively. She developed insightful ways to position and communicate her capabilities and qualifications. And it paid off. She ended up with a solid offer from a very mature and successful organization and is now happily employed, full-time, and going full throttle!
- The harder I work, the luckier I get. Although told that it would take a minimum of six months to earn a promotion at his new job, this client was promoted in just seven weeks! Remaining committed to his ambitious career goal, he followed through on all the coaching recommendations given to him for his new sales position. I suggested he quickly build relationships with the top-performing salespeople to discern and copy best practices…check. I coached him on how to plan, review and practice his sales pitch, anticipate and develop a thorough understanding of handling objections, research to find real competitive advantages for his product/company, and build relationships with the executive team with thoughtful questions and observations, check, check, check. As his sales numbers grew and his visibility grew, coupled with a management change, an opportunity was created. Bravo to this hard-won and well-deserved professional. As he says, ‘Joan, it’s amazing, there really are proven ways to create success, coupled with a little bit of luck… When my manager left, I was already doing a great job and had more visibility with upper management.”
- If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. This client called me super excited that he’d had the best interview of his career. In fact, he was offered the position on the spot (without even having any references checked) and promised a large start-on bonus in an exciting and well-funded technology start-up company. Things started sounding too good to be true, and when I told him to have patience and see what the written offer looked like, he was a bit disappointed that I’d throw cold water on his newfound terrific opportunity. I cautioned him to see if the written offer matched the verbal one. The company was pressuring him for a verbal yes and a start date of that Monday. When the offer arrived, it did not match up. All kinds of excuses were given, but ultimately the client found out that the company did not have the funding it claimed and was just anxious to get people in there to pump up its employee number. Major problem avoided!
- Whatever it takes to keep your confidence up! Everyone has insecurities, even successful executives. And this executive client was becoming aware of how and when his insecurities were damaging his career opportunities. During his career transition, he realized that even though he chose to leave his last company, he was losing confidence during interview meetings. He noticed that fear and worry entered his thinking, he became distracted by them, and his communication skills weakened. We probed to see what was behind his fears, and it was a sense of scarcity; if he didn’t get this opportunity, there wouldn’t be another one. So we tackled his fears by keeping his sales funnel full and his time engaged in positive meetings. We had him reach out to former colleagues who he knew thought well of him. He had many positive meetings, unearthed new opportunities, and equally important, these meetings reinforced his sense of mastery, reminded him of his track record of achievement, and opened up his sense of the vastness of opportunity. This built up his confidence and resulted, over time, in not one but two significant job offers and a lovely problem to have in deciding which offer to accept.
- 1-2-3 structure for keeping your focus. Not everyone has an easy time remaining focused during an interview; the pressure is on! This job-seeking client was troubled and knew he was losing his edge as he went off on tangents in response to interview questions. So we came up with a way to keep him succinct and articulate. I call it the 1-2-3 strategy. When asked a question that seemed complex or anxiety-provoking, I had him first notice when the anxiety was starting. Then he knew to take action: He was advised to pause, take a deep breath, relax, and thoughtfully say, “There are three things that come to mind,” and I suggested he hold up three fingers to reinforce the structure for his answer. To illustrate, in answering a question about his key strengths relevant to the position he was applying for, he’d hold up the first of the three fingers and say, “First, I successfully managed several projects of this exact nature in my last company. Second, (adding his second finger to the gesture) colleagues often mentioned that I was thorough and known for comprehensive planning, and third, (holding up all three fingers now) I was noted for managing excellent team communications throughout the project.” This 1-2-3 structure helped allay his anxiety, focus his answers, and he projected a more thoughtful, confident style. He did end up getting a new job offer!
I hope these ideas inspire you. And remember, it all begins with self-awareness. We are often not conscious of the things that are holding us back and can benefit from objective feedback and advice from a seasoned coach. And everyone, from recent college graduates to mid-career transitioners to top executives, benefits from the structure and accountability of the coaching process, knowing they have an expert partner in the process. In Great in 8 Coaching, you get a coach with a track record of success in both the coaching arena and a 20+ year corporate leadership career. We integrate the latest coaching research from the sports and entertainment fields where ongoing performance improvement is not a luxury but a requirement for sustained peak performance.
Let’s explore how coaching can benefit you!.
Onward in your career success!