Boost your career

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If you’re lacking structure and support in your chosen career, a professional coach can help you get results fast…

For most people, the image of a coach is someone employed by a sports person to help them reach peak performance, or an expert in life coaching. And, while those are certainly two versions of the role, there’s now a new breed of coaches and mentors emerging in the workplace.

Men and women who’d previously have had to make their own way up the career ladder are turning to professionals who work behind the scenes to guide them. The line between coaching and mentoring is blurred but, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, coaching is ‘developing a person’s skills and knowledge so that their job performance improves. It focuses on specific goals and skills, and usually lasts for a short period.’ Mentoring, meanwhile, is a longer-term passing on of support, guidance and advice.

Strategy development
If you find it hard to focus, a career coach can help you get rid of all the static thoughts in your head and work with you to identify your goals. A coach can see the big picture where you have trouble getting past step one. Together you can create a plan, including a timeline that keeps you moving in the right direction.

Planning is great, but the real value comes from the follow through. This type of growth and stretching is vital with any kind of goal-setting. But it’s so tempting to skip over these less desirable activities and focus only on the good stuff. A coach will hold you accountable for doing the things you say you are going to do – and help you figure out why you are avoiding some actions.

Clarity and confidence
Familiar with those moments of falling back into the I’m-running-but-not-getting-anywhere struggle? This is exactly when a coach can help you take a step back and see what you’re having trouble recognising for yourself. It can be difficult to keep pushing forward without the stark lucidity that a coach finds. With clarity, comes confidence in what you are doing.

It can help you stay on the path to realising your goals, and you’re in control of what you’re doing.

Like most people, you will hit snags when things don’t seem to be progressing how you envisioned. And like most people, you may want to throw in the towel. A good coach is a mentor, sounding board, and cheerleader rolled into one. He or she will motivate and encourage you when it all seems doom and gloom, – and celebrate your wins while recognising when you reach a milestone. The support is invaluable and will help you acknowledge what you’re accomplishing – even when it seems like baby steps.

Coaching can be a very powerful experience if you’re open to growth and self-development.

It’s not just about coaching 

  1. Spend some time with someone who has expertise that you don’t have.
  2. Work on a project that you’d like some experience with – ask for a secondment to a different team. Learn from others in an on-the-job capacity. Even ask for a secondment to an office abroad if your company has one.
  3. Find a mentor – the ‘let me take you under my wing’ approach. Maybe it’s someone more senior than yourself who you admire and who has achieved the sort of things that you aspire to? A mentor should offer guidance about your next career steps.
  4. Depending what stage you are in your career, look at developing someone more junior than you. For leadership or management skills, supporting others, such as a junior graduate, could be very beneficial.
  5. Read a management book by someone you admire. Want to be an entrepreneur? Read about those who are – for example, if you want to learn more about how someone like Richard Branson did it, read his best-selling autobiography.
  6. Deputise for someone more senior than you. If your boss is going on holiday, take on some of his work while he’s away and learn in that way.
  7. Observe people in challenging situations – for example, watch your boss deal with tricky clients.

Pictures: getty images

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