Professional coaching is one of the fastest growing services sector behind information technology services. What’s behind this tremendous growth? In the simplest terms it’s about change. The pace of change within the business landscape continues at amazing speed. Individuals and organizations face tremendous pressure for higher performance. Many professionals experience significant career turmoil as a result of business changes, mergers, consolidations and downsizings. Often professionals find themselves unprepared for the frequency of change, and in need of new or updated skills for career advancement or career transition.
Plus, it’s no secret that the contract between employer and employee has radically changed. Many professionals are no longer satisfied or dependent on current employers for little to no mentoring, development or defined career advancement. Coaching helps professionals take charge of their careers and professional advancement. It delivers an empowering service to help clients evaluate personal and professional goals and strategically map actions to achieve desired results. Coaching helps people focus on what matters most to them in business, career and life. And as many individuals are experiencing tangible benefits from taking charge of their personal and professional success, coaching continues to grow rapidly and organically.
If you’re new to the concept of coaching, Founder, Jodie Charlop offers some answers to common questions about the process and benefits.
What is coaching?
There are many different types of coaching services available today, and different definitions exist for each area of coaching. For more information on how we define our various coaching services, visit our services section.
From a general definition, coaching is a “professional” partnership between a qualified coach and an individual or corporate team that supports the achievement of a client’s desired goals. Coaching helps clients focus on the skills and actions needed to successfully produce their desired results in business, career or life.
At Potential Matters, we believe coaching is a strategic tool to help clients cut through the clutter of business, interpersonal dynamics and/or personal barriers and gain the clarity needed to support the most effective actions to achieve personal and professional goals. We believe coaching accelerates individual or team progress by providing greater focus and awareness of challenges and opportunities, which can lead to more effective choice-management and decision-making. Coaching concentrates on where individuals or teams are now, and helps them explore what they are willing to do to get where they want to be in the future.
What are the benefits of coaching?
Potential Matters concurs with the International Coaching Federation that professionals who engage in a coaching relationship can expect to experience fresh perspectives on personal challenges and opportunities, enhanced thinking and decision-making skills, enhanced interpersonal effectiveness, and increased confidence in carrying out their chosen work and life roles. Consistent with a commitment to enhancing their personal effectiveness, they can also expect to see appreciable results in the areas of productivity, personal satisfaction with life and work, and the achievement of personally relevant goals.
How can you determine if coaching is right for you?
To determine if you could benefit from coaching, consider outlining what you would expect to accomplish in coaching. Is there a specific goal that you would like to achieve but have not moved forward on? Do you feel that you could benefit from additional clarity or directional support to achieve your goals? Would you find it valuable to collaborate or bounce your thoughts and ideas against a professional sounding board – one that can provide honest, unbiased feedback and often a fresh viewpoint? Are you ready to do the work — devote the time and energy to go after what you want in your work or life? If any of these questions resonate with you, then perhaps coaching may be a beneficial way for you to grow and develop.
What are some of the reasons that I might chose to work with a coach?
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) outlines just a few of the many reasons that an individual or team might choose to work with a coach:
What’s the difference between counseling or “therapy” and coaching?
Coaching is a collaborative and interactive process that helps you define your desired personal and professional goals and then proactively supports you in making the changes necessary to turn your vision into reality. There are many professional opinions on the differences and similarities of “coaching” versus “counseling.” We believe the most important difference is that coaches do not and should not treat any type of traditional mental health concerns.
Counselors and therapists have very specialized training and professional licensing that enable them to work with clients on traditional mental health issues. However, there are many excellent counselors that deploy coaching techniques as part of their counseling practices. While counselors can move into the coaching arena, and many have done so successfully, coaches cannot and should not practice counseling. In fact, a good coach knows when to refer their clients to additional resources when appropriate. We encourage you to inquire about a coach’s credentials as well as approaches and techniques. The coaching industry is still young and still forming, so credentials and training can vary dramatically.
For my own training, I chose to train in a counseling program, because of my personal philosophy that we don’t leave our lives at the door when we go to work – and vice versa. But I made a personal career choice to focus on coaching and coaching techniques because I believe it offers clients more tangible results and promotes personal accountability to our own goals and life satisfaction.
Will we talk about my personal life during coaching sessions?
Philosophically, I don’t believe we can leave our personal self at home when we go to the office. But coaching sessions are not typically focused on your personal life. However, if there are personal barriers that emerge that are blocking your success, I will help you assess personal impact on professional goals.
Even though I do not treat traditional mental health issues, my study of human behavior and professional counseling has been helpful to my clients as I have the understanding of how many of these complex issues can impact professional success. But if you are dealing with serious emotional distress, it’s challenging and sometimes just near impossible to make good business or life decisions. I have no problem sending a client to do some personal counseling work before we start a serious coaching initiative. Sometimes, clients work in tandem with a coach and a counselor. In addition to working on advancing professionally, several of my clients are also managing depression, anxiety, ADHD or other traditional mental health issues in tandem with a coaching program. While Potential Matters sessions are focused on professional goals, these are real issues that my clients are dealing with and have to factor into their career decisions.
Isn’t it my boss’ job to provide the coaching I need to do perform well and succeed?
If you have ever had a great boss that served as role model and mentor, count your blessings. In today’s fast paced business environments, professionals have barely enough time to meet the basic demands of their own jobs. Even for senior professionals with the greatest of intentions to develop and mentor their teams, mentoring and professional development is a luxury given the pace of change in business today. Professionals at all levels are taking matters into their own hands, which is why coaching is growing at such a rapid pace. Plus, regardless of how wonderful your boss is, he or she always has a dual agenda. A coach works with you and your agenda, and is focused on your individual goals.
However, on the corporate coaching front, many professionals are now bringing in coaches for their teams because it can have great business performance benefits. Coaching helps individuals within a team be more productive by navigating typical corporate dysfunction, offering realistic perspectives on jobs and performance and business goals. Coaching can improve employee job satisfaction while helping teams become more efficient, effective and performance driven. When working with a corporate coach, hired by the company, please remember that his or her client is the company – so the underlying goal of the coaching initiative is always corporate driven.
I work with a number of corporate clients and their employees with great results. But, I’m very clear on the goals of individual coaching sessions with employees. To get unbiased, personal coaching, you can opt to hire and work with your own coach – though many employers will fund these activities through professional development and education budgets.
How do I know which coach is right for me?
Coaching, like counseling, has many different approaches, techniques and models. One coach I know that is very effective with executives and teams puts his clients through a rigorous six-month boot camp-type program with stringent weekly assignments. Others I know, take a more client-centered approach, empowering employees to go at their own pace. The good news is there are lots of choices. The challenge is picking the right one for you.
At Potential Matters, we believe each client has unique talents, needs and resources so we take a more client-centric approach. That means we don’t put clients into a standard process or methodology, we collaborate with the client to customize activities and resources mapped to the client’s individual goals.
In my opinion, picking a good coach is like picking a good financial advisor, counselor or even a trusted physician, and it’s a very personal choice based on your short- and long-term goals. However, I would recommend anyone considering coaching to examine three basic factors: 1) training, 2) experience, and 3) chemistry.
Some things to consider:
Another tip! If you’ve tried coaching and found your first experience lacking, don’t give up. Ask around and keep looking for the right coach for you. Working with the right coach, you can truly transform your professional life.
I tried coaching once and it didn’t work for me. Will it be different with another coach?
I always encourage folks that if you’ve tried coaching and found your first experience lacking, don’t give up. Ask around and keep looking for the right coach for you. Working with the right coach, you can truly transform your professional life, but one size coach doesn’t fit all. Coaching, like counseling, has many different approaches, theories and techniques. Do your homework and get as informed as you can about the credentials, services and approaches and find the right fit for you.
I would also encourage you to think about what didn’t work. Was it the coach or were there other issues at play. For example, timing can be an issue. Sometimes, if a client isn’t ready to do the work, I’ll tell them that they might want to reconsider the timing of working with a coach. Also, did the coach tell you something you didn’t want to hear. Avoidance can sometimes be a sign that you just aren’t ready to move forward. A skilled coach should be able to help you assess your readiness for coaching.
How many sessions will I need with a coach to meet my goals?
The number of sessions varies based on each individual’s personal and professional goals. I’ve worked with clients who, in one or two sessions, have used coaching to address a specific business or career issue. Some clients work in what I call situational bursts of activity: I’ll see a client working on a specific issue three or four times in the course of a few weeks until it’s resolved to his or her satisfaction. Some clients I see once a month like clockwork.
For longer-term clients, our sessions are evolutionary, as clients are constantly taking on new goals and challenges in their business, work or life. Like building a great building, one level at a time. In a corporate setting, studies have shown that on average, a professional will show observable results in 8-10 sessions over several months. But, our philosophy is that our clients are bright, motivated individuals and we set the frequency of sessions based on each individual’s personal and professional goals.
To reiterate my own experience, I’ve personally worked with my business coach and mentor for seven plus years. The frequency of my own coaching varies from a few times a month to once a quarter, depending on what I am working on at different phases of my work and life. Like many of my clients, as I achieve goals, I begin setting new ones. My own coach has been my resource and sounding board through multiple job and contract negotiations, managing corporate dynamics, completing an advanced degree and launching my own practice.
Where do you meet with clients?
My primary office is located in Atlanta, Georgia near Emory University. However, more than 50 percent of my client base is located in other cities throughout the US, and I have several clients in Europe as well. Most clients, regardless of location, prefer to conduct sessions by telephone because it’s convenient and sessions can be easily scheduled into a very demanding day, or outside of traditional work time.
While I conduct in-person sessions with local Atlanta clients upon request, I do periodically schedule sessions in other cities dependent on the number of clients in a particular geographic area. For example, I have many clients in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area, so I travel to the Bay area at least once a quarter at the request of clients who enjoy periodically augmenting telephone sessions with face-to-face sessions. I also have a growing client base in New York City, and anticipate doing periodic sessions there as well.
How do I pay for coaching services?
Many companies today will pay for coaching services as part of an individual’s professional development or education program. So I encourage clients to ask employers about their policy on paying for coaching services as part of a professional development program.
Coaching services are billed on an hourly basis or clients may take advantage of pre-paid coaching package arrangements. Payment for services is due in full at time of service by check or credit card. New client forms include credit card authorization for reserving appointment times. Scheduled appointments must be canceled at least 24 hours in advance or the client will be charged in full for the scheduled session. Monday appointments must be cancelled no later than 5:00 pm on the Friday prior to the session.
With advance approval, Potential Matters will make arrangements for corporate billing. Clients can make arrangements for corporate payment net-15 days or Potential Matters will pre-bill clients based on a pre-determined number of sessions for a 3-month period. Clients are responsible for all payments, regardless if corporate billing is established. Late payments by the company on more than one occasion within a six-month billing cycle will result in the client reverting back to a direct pay at the time of service.
Do you offer a first meeting for free?
We understand the importance of selecting the right professional coach for your needs. In fact to ensure the right fit, we highly encourage you to interview several coaches before selecting a practitioner for services. Unfortunately, due to increased demand for our services, we are unable to offer a first meeting free of charge. We will, however, schedule short telephone discussions with interested clients to answer any questions about our services that may not be addressed on our Web site.