Coach Secrets: How career coaching can help accelerate growth and create more equitable workplaces
Last week, we partnered with Project F to organise a career coaching event for women technologists.
The participants came with many burning questions, and left with insights and ideas to grow their career –and that of those they coach– in 2023 and beyond. The topics participants wanted to discuss were wide-ranged: from questions for early career stages to later career questions; from managing their own energies to positively influencing company culture; and more!
"I am early in my career, I'd like to understand what a good career trajectory looks like."
"I am feeling stuck in my current role, and I'm not sure how to progress?"
"I think I'm a bit burned out. How do I get back to feeling energised again?"
"We have some toxic behaviour in our workplace. How can I navigate these, and help create a more friendly environment?"
We came away feeling incredibly energised by the discussion, and wanting to share our thoughts on career coaching with a broader audience. In this post, we dive into how career coaching can help both at an individual level and at an organisational level.
How can working with a career coach help you grow?
There are many areas in your career where working with a career coach would be beneficial.
For people early in their career, this could be things like helping you prepare for an important job interview; supporting you in building a great personal brand; or improving your cover letters, resume, and LinkedIn profile.
For people later in their career, a coach can help you get ahead by helping you set and achieve your career goals. Think of building up your professional skills; increasing your confidence; managing complex office relationships; or even navigating a career change with a totally new job.
How do career coaches work?
Most coaches offer 1-1 coaching sessions and some offer group coaching services, too. Generally coaches offer a free discovery call to understand your needs, and to assess whether they are in the best position to help you.
A fruitful coaching relationship is built on trust. A discovery call is the first step towards establishing this trust.
Many career coaches look at all aspects of your life as part of the coaching process. This is because they understand that career is only one aspect, and challenges you might be facing in other life areas may impact your career. However, it's more than okay to only stick to career topics if that's what you are most comfortable with!
How do you hire a career coach?
Many career coaches are on LinkedIn! Search for coach or career coach on LinkedIn, read the profiles of people, find a coach who piques your interest, and reach out to them. They will often have their contact information on LinkedIn or on their website.
Most coaches welcome inbound interest. If the coach you chose doesn't have capacity to coach you, they will often refer you to someone else in their network.
Many companies, like Oracle offer internal coaching programs for their staff. If you are at one of those companies, that's awesome! Make use of the program to accelerate your career growth!
What can internal career coaching within organisations or companies achieve?
The benefits of a career coaching really become apparent when we see it applied to a whole company.
Accelerating career progression
Coaching can advance more people internally into leadership roles. By providing them with the support they need through transition periods, their transition becomes smoother and is sped up. The added bonus here is that this improved performance will have a compounding effect through their teams, as well.
Companies can retain more people by helping them discover their next role internally. With more opportunities where they are, they are less likely to search for a job elsewhere. This opportunity for growth also makes the company more attractive as an employer for new candidates.
Creating a more equitable workplace
Under-represented groups often report facing unconscious bias at workplaces. Career coaching can help create a more equitable workplace by tackling this issue from multiple angles. Firstly, by helping people navigate these challenges by providing them with tools to do so. Secondly, by making people more aware of their biases, and helping them take corrective action, thus decreasing their impact over time.
Expectations are changing: with a younger demographic entering workforces, people are looking for additional support in navigating the complexities of modern careers. Not only are careers becoming a collection of roles where you need to wear many different hats, but people are wanting to learn how they can contribute to making the workplace more equitable. Life-long learning has become table stakes.
How does internal career coaching work?
Specialised internal coaching teams
Although certifications are not a requirement to become a coach, many coaches are certified professionals with years of valuable industry experience. It is becoming increasingly common for companies to form internal coaching teams composed of professional coaches.
Internal coaching teams can work side-by-side with existing support structures to coach people at all levels across an organisation. By building an environment of trust, coaches can create the space for staff to self-reflect, get to know their inner selves better, and accelerate their growth.
Formal or informal coaching programs
Many companies offer coaching programs that create space for experienced staff members to take on a coaching role alongside their primary roles.
Such coaching programs create cross-pollination of shared experiences and knowledge across organisational silos, by encouraging people to seek and provide support to their peers.
Managers and leaders as coaches
Some companies have recognised the compounding positive impact that coaching can have at scale, and have incorporated coaching principles into management and leadership. This approach incorporates the personalized, self-reflective and trust-based coaching frameworks and bakes them into management from the ground up.
We see this trend as a key development that is shaping the future of workplaces. With the workforce demographics changing, as more Gen Z advance their careers, we believe that coaching skills are going to become more and more crucial for managers and leaders.
There are lots of ways that a career coach can help you actualise your potential, and we encourage you to try out a coach, no matter what stage you are at in your career.
We would love to hear about your experiences with career coaching: whether you are a coach or a coachee, share your thoughts in the comments!