Need a little help figuring out your next career move?
If you’re putting in the hours and still not seeing the rewards, feeling undervalued or simply striving to be more successful, it may be time to hire a career coach.
When New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson was fired in May, she had begun the process of working with a career consultant to deal with some of the “management style” and “temperament” concerns that are said to have led to her termination after more than 2½ years. Like Abramson, most of us excel in our jobs because of our technical expertise in our fields, but often the “people skills,” such as managing and motivating staff, are what trip us up.
A career coach can help you figure out behavioral changes to help you advance, strategies for a new direction, or an action plan to close the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.
“Think of a career coach as an objective person to talk to who doesn’t have a vested interest in anything but your success and satisfaction,” said Teressa Moore Griffin, an executive coach and founder of Spirit of Purpose.
One Miami executive hired a coach when her nonprofit women’s organization needed new direction.
At the time, G. Nancy Allen, president and CEO of the Women’s Business Development Council of Florida, was facing the high levels of stress common when nonprofit organizations confront board transitions and pressure to raise funds. Allen said that while working with a coach weekly for seven months, she defined steps to bring in new sources of revenue and new programming. Her coach also helped her scrutinize where to focus her time.
“I came out of it with clarity of purpose,” Allen said. “Most executives know what to do, but professional coaching helps them move beyond the minutiae to set a plan of action, stay focused and accomplish defined tasks.” Now, Allen has brought her coach to work with her staff individually to develop their strengths: “I think it will lead to a happier, more productive staff.”
As the job market opens, more people, particularly younger workers, are turning to career coaches. In a survey of 12,000 professional coaches by the International Coach Federation, 60 percent of respondents reported an increase in the number of clients over the previous 12 months, and more than 75 percent said they anticipated increases in clients and revenue over the next 12 months.
Coaching, once perceived as a luxury available only to senior executives, is increasingly appealing to younger people, according to the International Coach Federation’s 2014 Global Consumer Awareness Study. Of the 18,800 workers surveyed, 35 percent of those ages 25 to 34 said they had participated in a coaching relationship.
Employers, spending once again on leadership development, are hiring coaches for managers, vice presidents and high-level executives who have hit an obstacle in their career progressions or face new challenges. Griffin said she encourages corporate leaders to see how a small change in behavior affects performance: “Often, the person thinks the organization is the problem. I have to get them to see that if they want the team or boss or customer to behave differently, change starts with them.”
Hiring a career coach is different from hiring most other professionals, and can be costly. Expect to pay $100 to $350 for a one-hour session, according to the International Coach Federation. Most professionals work with their coaches for six months to a year.
There is no official licensing agency for career coaches, which has led to a wide range of quality among those claiming to be experts. However, the International Coach Federation has built a worldwide network of more than 12,000 professional coaches with a minimum level of training and certification. When selecting, Miami career coach Marlene Green advises asking for recommendations, checking references and asking questions “just as you would when hiring an attorney.”
To be clear, a coach differs from a business consultant. Where a consultant identifies a business problem and offers a solution, a coach asks questions and encourages the client to find answers.
“You have to ask yourself, ‘Do I have financial resources and time resources to get coached and am I in a place where I’m ready to have self-introspection?’ ” said Alexa Sherr Hartley, president of South Florida’s Premier Leadership Coaching. “You’re paying for a coach to help you figure it out, not to figure it out for you.”